What You Can Learn From Hollywood on Hiring and Managing Employees

From having a great reputation as a director, eliminating the wage gap and avoiding divas -- the movie industry is ripe with case studies.

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By Andre Lavoie

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The holidays are a time for family, festivities and award-seeking films. On Friday nights, some of us try to escape the stress of the office by losing ourselves in the best Hollywood has to offer. It's easy to forget that outside of the dark theaters, the movie industry faces a lot of the same work issues the rest of the workforce does.

Studios spend millions trying to recruit the best cast, and salary negotiations can go on for months. Gossip magazines are full of stories about starlets spending most of their time arguing with co-workers. Does that sound familiar?

Related: 6 Ways to Prevent Your Talented New Hire From Getting Poached

The main difference between Hollywood's hiring practices and the real world is all the former's decisions are under the spotlight. Here are three common workplace hiring problems and the lessons we can learn from the movie industry on how to deal with them:

1. The pull of a great director and employer brand

There are certain directors any professional in Hollywood would give their left hand to work for. A director's experience, vision and the creative challenge he or she brings to a set excites and attracts the best talent. Not every great director offers the same opportunity, but presentation and having a clearly defined way of working ensures that people who believe in his or her vision will want to work for him or her.

Now think of the employer brand as a company's metaphorical director. It might take time and effort to build an employer brand that stands on its own, but each company has something special to offer potential employees. By recognizing and developing a clear personality and reputation for a company, employers and recruiters will have an easier time attracting and keeping top talent.

2. The wage gap and salary negotiations

After Sony studios was hacked, actress Jennifer Lawrence discovered that she made significantly less than her male co-stars for the movie American Hustle. Granted, the actors she worked with -- Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner -- know how to bring in box-office sales. But with the success of her blockbuster series, The Hunger Games, and her Oscar win for Silver-lining Playbook -- which also starred Cooper -- Lawrence has also proven herself able to drive revenue.

The bigger issue isn't that a wealthy actress missed out on a couple million dollars -- it's a societal double standard. Lawrence has openly admitted that she didn't push her salary negotiations as far as her male counterparts. As a woman, she was worried that being more aggressive would make her seem "difficult" or "spoiled," whereas the men were viewed as being strong and confident.

Unfortunately, she wasn't necessarily wrong. Research from Harvard and Carnegie Mellon found that women are penalized more severely than men when they try to negotiate for more money.

Although the sudden salary transparency was an accident, Lawrence and other actresses now have a clearer idea of what target pay they have grounds to negotiate for.

Related: How Leaders Should Look at Culture

This problem isn't contained within Hollywood. A 2015 survey from the Harvard Business School of 71,000 employees found that at all pay levels employees don't know if they're paid fairly. Of the people that received average market pay, only 30 percent knew their salary was average.

With more transparency about what a company pays its employees, wage discrepancies will begin to disappear. Employers will have a higher level of accountability in respect to the salaries they offer to each employee, and employees will be confident that they are being compensated fairly.

3. Diva employees and cultural fit

The movie industry is full of actors and actresses that are notoriously difficult to work with, and these difficult hires can have detrimental effects on whatever set they're working on.

It doesn't matter how talented a problem actor is -- he or she can be toxic to the work environment. Production delays, stressful environments and high turnover of other employees are common.

The same thing happens in offices around the world. In a 2015 SHRM survey of 600 employees, 72 percent of respondents said respectful treatment of all employees was important to job satisfaction. However, only 33 percent were pleased with the level of respect at their offices, indicating problems with how employees treat each other are common.

One way to avoid these tensions is to pay more attention to cultural fit during the hiring process. Everyone has had to work with the team member who was supposed to be a magnificent addition to the team because of his or her skills and experience. But in reality, that person was a nightmare to work with because he or she wasn't a good cultural fit.

To keep from hiring diva employees, companies need to clearly define its culture and values. Then it's necessary to communicate those characteristics to potential employees. This will get everybody on the same page about how co-workers interact and work together, as well as which behaviors and attitudes contribute to overall success.

What other lessons about the workplace can we learn from Hollywood? Let us know in the comments section below.

Related: Startup CEOs Reveal the 1 Question They Ask Every Job Candidate

Andre Lavoie

Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the talent-management solution that helps companies identify, hire and retain more A players. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter.


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