Phillip Tan in Human Resources Professionals Coaching and Development Specialist • Ingeus SIngapore Oct 19, 2019 · 2 min read · 11.0K

Reinventing HR #3

Reinventing HR #3

Netflix’s Reinvention of HR


Founded 22 years ago, Netflix is a company that rides through the changes of technology and demands in the market. From a company that relies on DVD sales and rental by mail, Netflix expanded its business in 2010 with the introduction of streaming media and continues to dominate the online entertainment sector. Their continued growth since 2012, as an active role as producer and distributor for both film and television series would not have been successful if they lack of one important ingredient. People.

Finding the employee with a Netflix DNA in Talent Acquisition

When Netflix set out to look for a talent in the market; they look for certain characteristics in within before they set out the acquire.

It drills down to how well you know your own workforce.

Does your HR know about the X factor that your current successful employee has?

Talent acquisition and employer branding for Netflix was not about the cool recreation room stacked with snacks, nice beanie bags and free lunches.

Netflix finds that acquiring a new class “A” hire to match up with your current class “A” employee makes them happy. Not only it boosts morale, you grow your human capital when both of them gets together creatively. Tenacious and resourceful people environment thrives for the company and for go-getting employees.

There is such a saying in mandarin -  不怕神一样的对手,就怕猪一样的队友 (…be not afraid of god-like opponents, but worried more about pig-like team mates)

Creating a culture of excellence

Instead of spending time and money writing about formal HR policies; Netflix relies on logic and common sense to hire people and reward them well for those who have the dire for performance and would put the company’s interest first.  The managers and leaders own the job of creating great teams and culture and it’s a waste of time to articulate about values and culture if you don’t model and reward behaviour that aligns with the organizational goal.

Infantile workplace is counter productive

Ever heard of the term “management by walking around”. It has its limitations, if you have guys spread across geographically or if you have managers who were just walking around to check if the staff is late for work and monitoring their work, then you have a problem. Walking with the dinosaurs would be more apt, the only thing that should be walking about in today’s VUCA working world, should be your office’s robot vacuum.

Netflix treat their employees like adults, fully formed working adults. Empowering them and trusting them. Employees were told to take vacation days and time-of in whatever time they felt appropriate, they just have to worked it out with their bosses. Moreover, Netflix departed from a formal travel and expense policy, allowing their staff to book their own business trips with one instruction only. “Act in Netflix’s best interests.”

This has not only reduced costs; it shifted the responsibilities to the managers where it belongs. In fact, if you create a clear expectation of responsible behaviour, most employees are willing to comply.

Throwing out the formal performance review & PIP

Netflix finds that the traditional performance reviews does not work as it never accomplish what exactly the name “Performance Improvement Plan” implies. Having this elaborate ritualistic measuring performance usually doesn’t improve it.

Instead of annual reviews, Netflix started a 360-degree reviews using a software where constructive feedbacks can be given anonymously and gradually moved to 360s face-to-face. It’s about sharing together on how to tackled the task ahead and how to make it work, then to start a paper trail of documentation for fear of litigation.

Be business minded in Talent Management

Some companies would go all out to claim awards or get onto the list as “the Best Employer to work for” or “Employees Choice Awards”; but when you look at their Glassdoor reviews, it says likewise?

Some would go the distance to even create a cringe-worthy role of “Chief Happiness Officer”.

Really? How do you measure happiness in within your workforce?

Does your Happiness Officer measure them by attrition or there is an electronic panel for your employees to vote about how they feel today each time they walk pass the HR department? (just like those rating panel you would find inside the toilets of Changi airport)

HR is innovative in Netflix, instead of cheer leading and processing paper trails.

The HR in Netflix plays the important role in communicating to every employee on the following:

·        What’s good for the company now and future?

·        How do they want to communicate to employees effectively?

·        How can they help every employee to understand about high performance?

·        Does the employee know what he/she must do to increase his/her performance bonus?


Lastly, Netflix reinvented HR through a very simple deck.

Clear instructions about who they want, what is expected to be successful

127 Slides, no hot looking music videos, cringe-worthy quotes and stock images of happy-looking employees.


Yet Influential.