Top 8 Inspiring Movies that Every HR Should Watch

Top 8 Inspiring Movies that Every HR Should Watch

Movies are a lot more than just entertainment – they can also serve as a captivating learning tool. Thanks to the world of cinema, there are so many life and business lessons one can learn in an enjoyable way. Even premier B-schools and global conglomerates take examples from movies to impart management theories, leadership, group dynamics, and other valuable lessons on team handling among the students.

Must-Watch Movies for HR Professionals

It’s no wonder that the world of HR can also benefit from a gamut of awe-inspiring movies. Besides, you don’t want to be clueless at a meeting when someone cracks a joke or quotes a line from these milestone flicks.

So, without further ado, here is a list of the top movies every HR professional should watch to get inspired:

1. The Pursuit of Happyness – “The world is your oyster, it’s up to you to find the pearls.”

Will Smith (left) and Jaden Christopher Syre Smith star in Columbia Pictures drama – The Pursuit of Happyness.
Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal

This movie is an inspiration for people from all walks of life to learn how to stay patient and survive even the harshest challenges of life. All you need is to get your act together and keep going without succumbing to pessimism or negativity.

A true story based on the life of Chris Gardener, this movie is a must-watch for HR professionals. It shows how a positive attitude and passion are the key traits that any individual, be it an employee or a manager, must possess to succeed in their respective fields.

2. Up in the Air – People leave people, not organisations

Source: IMDB

This movie is about a corporate downsizer who goes on a downsizing marathon to fire employees and let go of people tactfully. As a specialised HR professional, the protagonist loves his job as he travels around the world, conducting layoffs on behalf of the employers. Enter his fresher counterpart who promotes cutting costs by conducting layoffs via videoconferencing and showing a new way of letting people go.

Eventually, things go haywire in their lives with piling personal issues and also as an employee commits suicide. This movie teaches an important lesson on how to handle layoffs with proper communication and empathy. It also highlights the importance of people to an organisation and the fact that people leave people and not an organisation as they are either unhappy with their managers or coworkers.

3. Invictus – Epitomise strong leadership skills – ‘One Country, One Team.’ 

MORGAN FREEMAN as Nelson Mandela and MATT DAMON as Francois Pienaar in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Spyglass Entertainment’s drama ‘Invictus,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Drawn from the biography of Nelson Mandela, it is a poignant tale that elucidates leadership and motivation. Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, unites a nation torn apart by nearly 50 years of racial tensions with the game of Rugby.

The famous lines from this movie “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” serve as an important touching point for all. The message for HR in this movie is how you can overcome the hardest challenges with strong leadership and keeping disengagement at bay. The key takeaway is that the behaviour of the leader is critical to managing teams successfully.

4. Moneyball – Making strategic, data-driven decisions

Source: IMDB

It is a movie based on baseball that isn’t too much about the sport but more about how to build a high-performing team using data and analysis. Instead of primarily relying on human instincts, the movie’s protagonist, Billy Beane challenged tradition and used computers and the power of data to put together a major league baseball team with a 20-game winning streak.

It can serve as a lesson for HR professionals and highlight the constant tension between intuition and statistics. Ultimately, it helps one make strategic decisions with data as the core, which is what strategic HR is all about.

5. Remember the Titans – Power of coming together as a team of diverse personalities

Source: IMDB

The movie documents the journey of a high school football team as members from two different cultures come together to reach a common goal. Initially, the team has a hard time accepting and trusting each other. However, with impactful coaching and rigorous training, the team achieves harmony and becomes a united team. They travel through the season undefeated and gain support from the community.

Ultimately, this movie is about positive leadership, dedication, sacrifice, and how to tide over team dynamics so that everyone works towards the common goal rather than just fulfilling their self-interest.

6. The Social Network – How to Tackle Negativity

Source: YouTube

Most of us are aware of the story of the social media giant Facebook and its creator Mark Zuckerberg. However, it’s worth watching the movie as it unfolds the events of the founder’s time in college and the inception of what is now a multi-billion dollar company.

A key takeaway from this movie is that it’s impossible to please everyone. But the fact remains that to be successful you need to thwart negativity that you will most likely encounter as you rise in your domain. It’s vital to get used to negative feedback and constructive criticism that will help you grow in the long run.

7. The Intern – Real Skills Have No Age Limit

Source: IMDB

The protagonist is played by Ben (Robert de Niro), a 70-year old widower who is bored with his retirement and applies as a senior intern at a budding eCommerce fashion Startup. The CEO and founder of the startup, Jules (Anne Hathaway) is the kind of heroine who many of us are familiar with – struggling to align career success with motherhood, immaculate personal grooming and a healthy work/life balance. Initially sceptical of Ben’s relevance within the business, Jules is eventually won over by Ben’s talent and fresh perspective to boost their business growth.

This movie tackles the issue of ageism at the workplace in a light-hearted way. It teaches several lessons of how teams with gender, age, and geographical diversity can make better decisions. Besides, the protagonist also imparts the value of loyalty to the company and goes beyond his age and experience to pick up tasks without any ego.

8. Apollo 13 – “Houston, we have a problem.”

Source: Amazon

This classic movie follows the journey of the Apollo 13 spaceflight. It holds great relevance to the present world scenario of virtual teams working together and how they can fight any crisis with teamwork, rational leadership, and ingenuity. Instead of blaming the team members for each other’s problems, it’s vital to make appropriate course corrections as a team and take calculated risks to turn around problems.

We live in times where movies often help us get a fresh perspective on real-life situations. When you plan a movie night, consider these movies to gain a special insight and, of course, have fun! If you have come across any other similar inspiring movies, share what you learned with us.


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