12 TED Talks to Inspire Better Workplace Culture

Ted Talks to build better workplace culture

Want a better workplace culture? Get inspired first by pioneers like software titan Stephanie Shirley, pictured here. (Photo via Steve Jurvetson, Flickr)

Want to build a better workplace culture? Join the club. The way we work is changing, and companies are scrambling to catch up.

“The necessity of workplace culture is a recent phenomenon,” according to a column in The Commentator. “It’s clear that in order to attract, retain and engage the modern workforce, companies must intensify their focus on improving company culture.”

That’s because employees in all industries now are expecting work that is meaningful and engaging — and to be appreciated for it, beyond a paycheck.

Employees are also “pushing employers to forego traditional structures,” according to Gallup research.

But change isn’t happening fast enough for most workers. Two-thirds of U.S. workers still aren’t engaged at work, a figure that hasn’t budged much in years.

Don’t be discouraged! Watch these TED Talks for fresh ideas and new perspectives on building a better workplace culture through better leadership, motivation, appreciation, mindfulness, creativity and more. You’ll feel re-engaged and inspired to share and cultivate improvements to your workplace. Rediscover how easy it is to make a difference.

12 TED Talks to Inspire a Better Workplace Culture

1. Dame Stephanie Shirley: Why Do Ambitious Women Have Flat Heads?

Called “the most successful tech entrepreneur you never heard of,” 83-year-old Stephanie Shirley is a pioneer of flexible work and allowing employees to work from home. She started an all-woman software company in the U.K. in the 1960s that went on to be valued at $3 billion and made millionaires of 70 of her team members.

2. Carl Honoré: In Praise of Slowness

If your team is feeling burned out and overwhelmed, watch this talk about the value of a slowed-down mindset. “We’re so marinated in the culture of speed that we almost fail to notice the toll it takes,” journalist Carl Honoré says. Fast-forward to 9:20 for his take on applying slowness in the workplace specifically.

3. Apollo Robbins: The Art of Misdirection

In this nine-minute TED Talk, sleight-of-hand artist Apollo Robbins demonstrates his pickpocket techniques. But really, he’s demonstrating the power of attention. He asks, “If you could control somebody’s attention, what would you do with it?” In the workplace, leaders have the power to direct employees’ attention. What are your employees’ paying attention to?

4. Dan Ariely: What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work?

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely explores what really motivates people to work (spoiler: it isn’t money!). His talk is #1 on management expert Dan Pink’s list of favorite TED Talks about work.

5. David Steindl-Rast: Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful

Monk and interfaith scholar David Steindl-Rast says we all have one longing in common: to be happy. He challenges us to think of each moment as an opportunity to “stop, look, go” — and be grateful. The assumption that gratitude leads from happiness is misguided, he says. In fact, gratitude is the seed for happiness on an individual, organizational and communal level.

6. David Blaine: How I Held My Breath for 17 Minutes

What makes employees want to do their best, and what do they need to do it? Magician and endurance artist David Blaine is an extreme case. In this video, he explains how he managed to beat the world record and hold his breath for 17 minutes on live television. But even if most work isn’t this extreme, there’s a lesson here for managers in how creativity and high performance flourish — Blaine has a clear goal, the freedom to be curious and experiment, and the resources to train himself to be better. And that, he says, is magic.

7. Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Why are some leaders and companies so much more innovative, inspirational and successful? The secret is in what leadership expert Simon Sinek calls “the golden circle.” And it’s the key to better employee experience and better workplace culture.

8. Martin Seligman: The New Era of Positive Psychology

Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. As a field of study, positive psychology began in the 1990s. Research includes the effects of positive psychology in the workplace. In this TED Talk, positive psychology founder Martin Seligman explains its history and the science behind it.

9. Roselinde Torres: What It Takes to Be a Great Leader

Roselinde Torres has spent decades observing what makes great leaders, by working inside Fortune 500 companies and coaching more than 200 CEOs. One interesting takeaway from this talk: traditional assessments like annual performance reviews may give you false-positives and stunt your company’s growth. The better investment of your time is in people and building a strong, diverse network.

10. Barry Schwartz: The Way We Think About Work Is Broken

Psychologist Barry Schwartz describes “idea technology” and how it relates to attitudes about work and leadership. False ideas about employee motivation are holding companies back, he says. At the end, he challenges viewers: “Just what kind of human nature do you want to help design?”

11. Shonda Rhimes: My Year of Saying Yes to Everything

“Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy” writer and producer Shonda Rhimes loves the “hum” of working, but one day she lost it. In this engaging talk, she describes her journey getting it back.

12. Brian Doyle: 365 Days of Thank You

A near-death experience led Brian Doyle to ask himself, “Where do I stand with the relationships in my life?” What would happen, he wondered, if gratitude became a daily practice and not just something we celebrate on Thanksgiving? Eventually he set out on a quest to thank someone every day for a year, with no repeats. It’s an inspiration for employee appreciation! As Doyle points out, “In reality, we all appreciate. … But how often do we actually say it?”

Free Resource: Your Day-to-Day Employee Engagement Calendar

We all need inspiration to make employee appreciation a daily habit. gThankYou’s 2017 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Be inspired; download yours today, absolutely free.

“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author

Here’s to a happier workplace in 2017!

Click to download your FREE 2017 Guide to Building an Everyday Culture of Appreciation!

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