by Matthew Stollak on Monday, May 2, 2011

As mentioned, Laurie Ruettimann and I presented on "Pop Culture, Politics, and HR" this past weekend at HREvolution.   I imagine that the presentation would have been vastly different if the Obama news came out Friday night instead of Sunday night (in fact, Laurie's blog this morning would have most likely been a centerpoint of the discussion).  In any case, given that there were so many good sessions competing with our own, here are the questions we were prepared to ask the audience in our session (of which, many were brought up):

  1. What do you want your workplace to be like?
  2. What do I want from work and the workplace besides money?  
  3. Is it simply a paycheck?
  4. What do I want/need from my supervisors/employers/colleagues?
  5. Is there a social component?
  6. Why do we worry about survivors during a layoff, if work is not social?  
  7. Why does morale go down during a layoff?  
  8. Ulrich indicates in "The Why of Work," that we seek a sense of purpose, meaning, value, and contribution.  What contributes to that sense of purpose?
  9. Does pop culture help contribute to that sense of meaning or purpose?
  10. What relationships do or should exist between the workplace and the rest of my life/family/religion/community/nation?
  11. Is it a personal and/or social "good" to be a "workaholic?"
  12. How would I know if I was a workaholic?
  13. How do examples from and familiarity with popular culture illuminate and contribute to answering the above questions?
  14. What is the vocation of HR?
  15. What is HR's calling?
  16. What do we want our role to be in human resources?
  17. Is HR corporate lackeys merely enforcing the organization's restrictive and punitive rules?
  18. Is HR creating a workplace where workers can share ideas and feel welcoming?  
  19. Does making workers feel welcoming matter?
  20. What is pop culture?
  21. Is it a failure of American society that many of us default to pop culture because we have no other basis to form a community upon?
  22. Are politics considered pop culture?
  23. Are sports considered pop culture?
  24. What about Obama's youth movement and Shepard Fairey posters? 
  25. Is it art?
  26. Should those posters be allowed in the office?
  27. What is the relationship between pop culture, HR, and the workplace?
  28. Do we believe that the outside world of life/entertainment/art has a place at work?
  29. Do we need external topics to talk about at work because our actual jobs are so suffocating?
  30. Who is participating in the discussion of pop culture items?
  31. Is it the engaged?
  32. The disengaged?
  33. Those that are outright sabotaging the workplace (and is pop culture the manifestation of it)?
  34. What role does pop culture play in the socialization process?
  35. Does pop culture bind us together or separate us?
  36. Does pop culture serve to exclude some as well?
  37. Do employees feel left out if they didn't watch the latest episode of "Desperate Housewives" or "American Idol?"
  38. What are the expectations, if any, of employees with regard to pop culture understanding?
  39. Do I feel compelled to read a particular book (i.e., Bridges of Madison County) or watch a TV show to fit in?
  40. Does pop culture begin to feel like homework?
  41. Is there peer pressure to participate (like learning the electric slide for a company function)?
  42. What if I don't care about the Royal Wedding?
  43. Is pop culture ephemeral?
  44. Can we even create a common bond with one another with friends, at work, or at home?
  45. What is the impact of community at work?
  46. Does work no longer fulfill that need for purpose, meaning, value, and contribution if I am able to find my niche or subculture online?
  47. Do I need to come to work to discuss the latest twists and turns on "The Killing" or "Fringe" when I can go to online message boards to get an immediate reaction?
  48. Is there a stigma associated with popular culture?
  49. How does one react when you hear someone went to ComicCon? Positive? Negative?
  50. Is being a fan of the Grateful Dead or Phish something to be embraced, or are you viewed as a directionless, drug-addled nomad with no link to reality?
  51. Do you read comic books?
  52. Do you listen to country music?
  53. Do you read People?
  54. Do you read US Weekly?
  55. Do you read comic books? 
  56. Do you read Romance novels?
  57. What is the divided line between those cult classics and guilty pleasures, and those items to truly be avoided?
  58. Can you dress up as Dr. Frank N Furter for the midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show on weekends and still become CEO?
  59. Is pop culture just high class gossip?
  60. How many check out TMZ.com?
  61. How many check out Perez Hilton?
  62. How many check out Egotastic?
  63. How many spent at least some time in the past month talking about Charlie Sheen?
  64. Do we view the gossiper in the organization positively or negatively?
  65. Do we view the gossiper as having power in the organization, given the info he/she possesses?
  66. Do we view gossip as small or petty?
  67. Does pop culture carry the same weight in the organization as gossip?
  68. Do we view the pop culture "expert" with respect or disdain?
  69. Are we impressed when he or she can rattle off inane facts, or obscure quotes from movies?
  70. Does it signal the person as "unserious" and unworthy of being promoted within the organization?


I'm still laughing about the "what was on at 7pm CT on saturday night in 1978?" question.

Dang. You are old! :)

by Unknown on May 3, 2011 at 10:04 PM. #

I bring the noise, Ruettimann!! You come at the King, you best not miss!

The double power hour of Love Boat and Fantasy Island was tough to miss. Loni Anderson needed work. http://www.poobala.com/fantasyandlove.html

by Matthew Stollak on May 3, 2011 at 10:08 PM. #

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