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Netflix Has Revolutionized HR....Forever

HR: Successes Secret Weapon

Netflix has revolutionized the TV industry since 1997. Most business analyst attribute Netflix’s success to their strategic development and their unquenchable desire for innovation. However, the surprising secret to Netflix’s success can be found in the HR department and how they value their employees. Over the past 19 years, not only has Netflix revolutionized the TV industry, Netflix has revolutionized HR…... forever. Could the secret weapon to organizational success be lying in the palm of the HR’s hand?

No Adolescents Allowed

Netflix only hires, rewards, and tolerates fully formed adults who understand and support their high-performance workplace – no adolescents allowed. Netflix’s embedded definition of fully formed adult behavior can be found in employees whose integrity is unwavering, can give and receive honest feedback and who can talk openly with superiors. Honestly, robots are not this predictable or corporative, yet they are still valuable and worth the cost of maintenance. The attributes of a fully formed adult are easy to desire, but difficult to cultivate. Fortunately, there are people in the world who can exhibit this type of adult behavior in a high performance workplace. On the other hand, adult behavior does just occur, it is developed on the mistakes, successes and experiences of the adolescent. The question is: How should an HR department proceed to weed out the adolescents and retain and recruit the adults (and ultimately join the revolution)? Netflix’s interpretation of HR may hold the answer.

Act in Your Netflix’s Best Interest

Netflix rewards their employees by breaking the rules of the standard HR policy. Salaried employees do not have to concern themselves with how many sick days they have left, they can simply take time off as they feel needed. Of course, employees with adolescent behavior qualities would not be able to handle this amount of freedom. This is why Netflix only hires employees that appreciate the company enough to not abuse this freedom. Through the lens of an HR professional, this seem preposterous. Questions concerning fairness and consistency would be among the first few phrases uttered in a debate against this policy. Nevertheless, Netflix’s has a five-word expense policy that sums up every doubt an outsider may have and it also soothes the confusion of a new employee: Act in Netflix’s best interest. In theory, adolescents only act in their best interests while adults understand the vision is bigger than them. Businesses should take note that generous rewards systems are not a liability – they are an asset.

Dollars and Sense

There is always a place for formal policies, but Netflix has shed light on how expensive formal policies can be for organizations of any size. Why pay to retain employees that organization cannot trust? For example, consider how many businesses pay travel agents thousands of dollars per year to book trips for employees to ensure that they operate in financial integrity. In actuality, organizations are paying third party companies to perform a service for an employee that they do not trust. Netflix has eliminated a formal travel expense policy which allows their employees to book their own flights. In result, it reduces overhead expenses and reassures the employee of the shared trust established within organization. In summary, Netflix proves that the establishment of shared trust in an organization literally costs less dollars and makes more sense.

Leadership Through Partnership

In the 21st century, adult employees are shifting from the desire to be led into the desire to be a partner. Employees need to feel as if they made an investment into the vision of the organization. Hence, making partnership more than a sub-category of referent power. In the midst of this conceptual shift, partnership seems to have found its resting place in the reoccurring theme of shared trust. Furthermore, until HR departments are given permission to hire partners and not employees, adolescents will fill adult positions. Netflix has taken HR from being the office on the third floor into a system that can be readily identified in all aspects of the organization. In short, HR has to become like residue of glue stick that one cannot easily rub off. HR’s influence must “sticks” and hold everything together by hiring and training partners that will be an asset to senior leadership.

The Conclusion: Netflix Says So

While Netflix may have an extensive collection of science fiction movies, it is a scientific fact that Netflix has changed the role of HR – and businesses need to take note. Netflix has proven that rules, formal policies and regulations may ensure workplace productivity, but at a cost – literally. The success of businesses in the 21st century seem to rely on the innovative strategies within HR department. In other words, buying the HR department a new color-coded file cabinet may not be as effective as it was 20 years ago. The best thing an organization can give to HR is the freedom to be just as innovative as the marketing or public relations department. How do we know this to be true? Netflix’s success says so.

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