Employer Branding

How Netflix Leads the Way in HR

Netflix and its culture have made movements in the HR world – the company has been at the forefront of people’s minds for all the right reasons.

Part of the reason I love the HR and culture at Netflix is from learning about it through their culture code deck. I found the presentation surprisingly honest and genuine, something which Netflix points out themselves is not very common in large corporations. The deck concentrates on 7 key aspects of the culture at Netflix, including their opinions on values, responsibilities, and employee development. All of it is very interesting, but I think the way the entire presentation is worded speaks volumes about the way the company work.

They only hire “fully formed adults”

Netflix itself has explained how they only hire “fully formed adults” to join their workforce. Netflix uses this term internally to explain their ideal type of employee. “fully formed adults” are the type of people who make decisions based on a variety of different points of interest – such as personal ones, company ideals, their colleagues, and their customers. They aren’t blindly loyal, like children, they take into account all the different factors that lead to a decision.

They’re no bullsh*t

Netflix makes no secret of the fact that they are willing to let go of people if they no longer serve a strong purpose within the Netflix team. In an article for Harvard Business Review, McCord, a previous chief talent manager for Netflix, explained that “no matter how valuable their contributions had once been”, they will discharge employees if necessary. He did explain also that “out of fairness to such people—and, frankly, to help us overcome our discomfort with discharging them—we learned to offer rich severance packages,”. Complete honesty between employers and employees means there are no discrepancies, and problems and issues are sorted out immediately. For employees, it also means you know where you are in terms of employment and work.

They trust employees to “act in Netflix’s best interest”

Netflix’s expense policy is 5 words long. It is simply “act in Netflix’s best interest.” This explicitly shows Netflix only hires people who they trust, meaning employees feel like they’re truly involved in the brand and company. Trust is so important in the workplace, and it’s often easily gained by the brand trusting their employees first and foremost. Giving trust first means that it will be reciprocated (by a suitable employee), meaning your workforce will be a genuine one.

They’re straightforward and extreme

One of my favorite things and something that I like about Netflix is that they’re extreme when it comes to their managerial styles. In an example from their Culture slide deck, is the ‘Keeper test’ they ask managers to stick by. They ask managers “If one of your employees told you he or she was leaving for a job at a peer company, would you fight hard to keep that employee at Netflix?”. If the answer is no, then this employee does not fit the Netflix standard. Although it may seem extreme, Netflix always still remain respectful of its employees.

They don’t pit employees against one another

Another thing that struck me about Netflix and their HR, is that they don’t pit employees in competition against each other. I’ve noticed that so many brands and businesses use this as a way of motivating employees to work harder, but I find that it’s a rather outdated method or boosting motivation in a team. A good team should all work co-operatively, collaborate effectively, and work for the best interest of the brand, rather than purely for themselves. Netflix says that they avoid terminology such as ‘top 30%’ or ‘bottom 10%’ rankings, but would prefer if all their team members were in the top 10% relative to the pool of global candidates.

Overall, I think Netflix’s approach to HR is refreshingly honest and contemporary. They mold their approach to changes in HR and do not keep pushing old-fashioned and outdated styles. Do you know any other companies that are approaching HR in an interesting way? Let us know in the comments below!

By Ruby Lowe

Account Executive at Link Humans, download our 12 Essentials of Employer Branding eBook now.