As HR professionals we love HR. We love it so much that we often watch a movie or a show just to pick out the HR themes and see how the world of fiction deals with them. Whether you like drama or comedy, there’s an HR show for you, our team has watched and analyzed dozens of movies and TV shows and we came up with our Top 10 movies and shows that deal with the topic of HR head-on.
1. Office Space (1999) – Corporate drone Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) hates his soul-killing job at software company Initech. While undergoing hypnotherapy, Peter is left in a blissful state when his therapist dies in the middle of their session. He refuses to work overtime, plays games at his desk and unintentionally charms two consultants into putting him on the management fast-track. When Peter’s friends learn they’re about to be downsized, they hatch a revenge plot against the company inspired by “Superman III.”
2. The Office (2005 – 2013) – Based on the award-winning British comedy of the same name, this acclaimed sitcom is told through the lenses of a documentary film crew and filled with gossip, pranks, romance and general foolishness at Dunder-Mifflin Paper Co.
3. Horrible Bosses (2011) – Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) are workers who would like nothing better than to grind their oppressive employers into the dirt. Quitting their jobs is not an option, so — fueled by alcohol and dubious advice from a criminal (Jamie Foxx) — the men devise a complex and seemingly foolproof plan to permanently rid themselves of their terrible bosses. The problem is, any plan is only as clever as the brains behind it.
4. Up In The Air (2009) – An idea from a young, new co-worker (Anna Kendrick) would put an end to the constant travel of corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), so he takes her on a tour to demonstrate the importance of face-to-face meetings with those they must fire. While mentoring his colleague, he arranges hookups with another frequent-flier (Vera Farmiga), and his developing feelings for the woman prompt him to see others in a new light.
5. Mad Men (2007 – 2015) – What happens at the workplace without HR? This drama provides a look at the high-powered world of advertising in 1960s New York City, from the boardroom to the bedroom.
6. 9 To 5 (1980) – Office satire about three female secretaries who decide to get revenge on their tyrannical, sexist boss by abducting him and running the business themselves. The trio, one of whom has been passed over for promotion because she is a woman, spend a night together having drug-induced fantasies of killing the slave-driving chauvinist. One of them panics the following day when she suspects she really has poisoned the tyrant.
7. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) – Andy (Anne Hathaway) is a recent college graduate with big dreams. Upon landing a job at prestigious Runway magazine, she finds herself the assistant to diabolical editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Andy questions her ability to survive her grim tour as Miranda’s whipping girl without getting scorched.
8. The Intern (2015) – Starting a new job can be a difficult challenge, especially if you’re already retired. Looking to get back into the game, 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) seizes the opportunity to become a senior intern at an online fashion site. Ben soon becomes popular with his younger co-workers, including Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), the boss and founder of the company. Whittaker’s charm, wisdom and sense of humor help him develop a special bond and growing friendship with Jules.
9. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013 – 2022) – A sitcom following the lives of a group of detectives in a New York precinct, including one slacker who is forced to shape up when he gets a new boss.
10. Purl (2019) – This Pixar short features an earnest ball of yarn named Purl who gets a job in a fast-paced, high energy, bro-tastic start-up. Yarny hijinks ensue as she tries to fit in, but how far is she willing to go to get the acceptance she yearns for, and in the end, is it worth it?
We’re sure there are many more that we didn’t include in this list and we’d love to hear from you about which movies or shows you think should make this list.
Your Engaged HR assignment: Do you have too much drama and not enough comedy in your workplace? Reach out, we’d love to help you re-write your workplace script.
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