An Employer Brand Built on Freedom and Responsibility

When it comes to company culture, Netflix is a force to be reckoned with. Its famous “Freedom & Responsibility Culture” presentation has made waves and introduced ideas that are now commonplace, like unlimited paid time off and a radical approach to employee empowerment.

But what’s really behind Netflix’s unique approach to company culture? And how do they attract and recruit top talent in both tech and entertainment?

We sat down with Sergio Ezama, Chief Human Resources Officer at Netflix, to find out.

Simplicity is Key

At Netflix, everything is based on five simple principles:

  • Encourage decision-making by employees
  • Share information openly, broadly, and deliberately
  • Communicate candidly and directly
  • Keep only your highly effective people
  • Avoid rules

These guidelines inform all sorts of management policies at Netflix, from their unlimited vacation policy to their five-word expense policy: “Act in Netflix’s best interest.”

This management structure, which Netflix sums up as “highly aligned and loosely coupled,” enables them to grow while still retaining the ability to make big pivots quickly. In short, it’s how they were able to transition from mailing DVDs directly to customers into becoming a video streaming platform, and then make the jump into producing their own high-quality content.

Working with the Best

Ezama quickly points out that the Netflix culture memo is an external document, not an internal one. They want it to be the first thing a candidate reads about the company and the first document you receive if you’re applying for a job.

“We want to strike a balance between being a bit different, being credible, and being aspirational,” Ezama says. That means putting what they stand for front and center and being OK with the fact that it’s not going to appeal to everyone. The work is challenging, and excellence is expected because that’s what it takes to be the best at what you do.

For Ezama and the candidates he’s looking for, the chance to be on a dream team that comes together to solve very challenging problems makes working at Netflix so rewarding. It’s the central Employer Value Proposition that drives all of their employer branding work.

“Industries will change over time, and cultures will change over time,” he says, “but working with the best people is something that will remain constant.”

Measuring Success

As the CHRO of a large organization, Ezama is passionate about measuring the success of employer branding efforts. When someone comes to him with an idea, the first thing he’s looking for is conviction. Are you passionate about this? Are you really, truly behind this? And secondly, what is the evidence? What output can we measure?

At Netflix, they rely on the Employer Brand Index to give them the data they need to measure their employer branding efforts. “The work that we do with Link Humans helps us understand if we’re being competitive or not, not only with Netflix but also relative to those we compete against,” Ezama says.

So, what’s the takeaway?

Netflix is a company that is committed to simplicity, excellence, and working with the best people. If you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding work environment where you can be part of a dream team that solves big problems, then Netflix might be the place for you.

But be warned: Netflix is not for everyone. The work is challenging and excellence is expected. If a candidate is not up for the challenge, then it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

But if they are ready to join a team of the best and brightest minds in the world, then Netflix is the place to be.

To follow Sergio Ezama’s work, connect with him on LinkedIn. For help gathering data and insights you can act on to improve your own company, get in touch.

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