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Netflix’s Great People Culture: Here’s How They Do It

At first glance, Netflix might seem like another streaming service, a digital haven for movie buffs and series aficionados alike. However, a closer look reveals that its real magic lies not in the content it streams, but in the internal culture it cultivates as a company. 

Netflix People Culture and how they make it great.

Netflix’s journey from a humble DVD rental service to an entertainment enterprise is underpinned by its innovative human resources strategy, famously encapsulated in the Netflix Culture Deck and further described in the Culture section of their website. 

By looking at these two public resources, right away Netflix sets the stage for prospects and new hires to know what they’re walking into. Plus, prospective employees become more attracted to working for them because it shows a high level of intentionality around their culture and how they treat their staff.

Here’s How Netflix Does It

First, Netflix’s groundbreaking approach is characterized by “seeking excellence,” as stated in the opening headline of their website culture page. What seeking excellence means to them is summarized in these five points:

  1. Encourage decision-making by employees

  2. Share information openly, broadly and deliberately

  3. Communicate candidly and directly

  4. Keep only our highly effective people

  5. Avoid rules

Essentially, what these five principles boils down to is that Netflix cares about people over process, a phrase they use about themselves. Imagine if your company started saying this and promoting this? How would that change your own people culture?

In the case of Netflix, this philosophy is part of their secret sauce, and they’re proud to share it externally and internally as something that differentiates them.

Second, are the “valued behaviors” that Netflix promotes. These behaviors have to do with how Netflix fires, promotes, manages and lets go of staff.

Netflix has a profound belief in freedom and responsibility. This philosophy trusts employees to act in the best interests of the company, freeing them from the constraints of traditional corporate policies. It has been revolutionary in its strategies behind managing and empowering its workforce. 

What Great People Culture Involves

Cultivating a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

Netflix’s cultural revolution in the workplace is built on treating employees as responsible adults, capable of making decisions that align with company goals. This ethos has led to the dismantling of conventional HR policies, such as stringent vacation tracking and rigid expense approvals, in favor of a more trust-based approach. Instead, employees take time off as needed and are trusted to take responsibility over their own work. 

By empowering employees with the autonomy to make their own choices, Netflix has fostered an environment ready for innovation and creativity. 

Strategic Talent Management

Netflix prioritizes adaptability, focusing on candidates with, as Josh Bersin describes, “T-shaped” skill sets. These are candidates who have deep expertise in one area, but are also able to collaborate across disciplines. This approach ensures that the workforce remains versatile and prepared for the ever-shifting challenges of a new kind of organization. 

Leadership That Empowers

Netflix’s leadership model is distinctly modern, focusing on mentorship and coaching over micromanagement. Leaders at Netflix are expected to guide their teams through inspiration and support, rather than direct oversight. 

This creates a nurturing environment where employees are encouraged to develop their skills, take on new challenges, and contribute to the company’s vision in meaningful ways.

Reinventing HR for a Dynamic Workforce

Netflix’s HR practices reflect its commitment to a dynamic, people-first approach. Moving away from specialized roles, the company’s HR team operates more like a think tank focused on solving complex organizational challenges. 

Rather than being siloed into specialties, the team is built around problems that need to be solved for the individual business. This strategy ensures that policies and practices are continually adapted to meet the evolving needs of the workforce and the business. 

Fostering Innovation through Strategic Hiring

At its core, Netflix understands that a motivated and aligned workforce is the key to sustained innovation and growth. Its hiring practices are designed to attract individuals who are passionate about what they do and where they work.

Netflix offers competitive compensation, and encourages employees to seek other opportunities elsewhere if they feel the need. They motivate employees to explore internal mobility as well, ensuring they feel valued and invested in the company’s success.

How You Can Create A Great People Culture 

Notice how Netflix is bringing top down and bottom up strategy into their people culture. The company set guidelines and clear values, and then allows each employee to define it on their own terms.

Netflix’s dynamic organization structure and people culture offer some valuable lessons for any organization. It proves that when companies invest in their people, treat them with trust, and empower them to take ownership of their work, remarkable success follows. Embracing this culture of freedom and responsibility can lead to a more engaged, innovative, and resilient workforce.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on integrating a strong people culture in your own organization. If you are looking for ways to revamp your HR strategy and people operations to propel your organization to the next level, reach out here. 


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