by Josh Kimball
If there’s one important thing Brad Pitt has given our culture, it’s a more nuanced understanding of human resources departments.
In Moneyball, Pitt brings the scintillating tale of a Major League Baseball team’s talent management philosophy to the silver screen, explaining how organizations (and even entire institutions) can undervalue certain skills and overvalue others. That America’s top movie for grownups (Moneyball is sandwiched between The Lion King 3D and Dolphin Tale on this week’s box office chart) is essentially a celebration of hiring decisions shouldn’t come as a surprise. Employment — and, all too often, its conspicuous absence — weighs upon our collective consciousness. It’s something that could use a bit of Hollywood hope about now.
In the US, President Obama is pitching a jobs bill to stimulate growth. But the nation’s unemployment numbers are an ugly combination of anemic and lethargic (they’re stuck around 9.1%). Europe has its own job jitters. Spain’s unemployment rate has been north of 20% for all of 2011. And with a sovereign debt crisis headlining papers daily and a default by Greece imminent, a skittish eurozone won’t be flush with new hires any time soon.
Meanwhile, for those workers lucky enough to have jobs, expectations don’t let up. In the corporate sector, diminished workforces are expected to do more with fewer hands — so though head count is relatively low, productivity continues to rise.
Earlier this year, Iconoculture introduced a macrotrend called Mindful Matters. It describes how people, or at least some groups of them, are being more careful about what they spend their money and time on. That’s certainly the case for employers making hiring choices right now. But workers themselves are also reexamining their priorities. When the culture of work becomes one of more, more, more or nothing at all, what workers value and what enterprises value can become less and less in tune. The Mindful Matters phenomenon has consumers (and workers, and those making hires) challenging long-held assumptions. Hey, it worked for Brad Pitt?