During this pandemic, while we all sat home I’m sure we did a lot of pondering about things. We sat down thought not just about ourselves but also about our environment, society, people, animals, and whatnot. When all our lives hustle and bustle came to a pause we decided to do things we had stopped doing or start new things and try to make ourselves satisfied and happy with ourselves. We even realized that we are not machines and we all deserve a break and that’s when entertainment came into the picture. We saw the humongous rise of OTT platforms and became a part of every household. We see people of all ages, races, ethnicities, country watching all different kinds of shows. One of the biggest and leading OTT sites is Netflix. I’m sure you all have heard of this phrase by now “Netflix and chill”
Netflix is an American content platform and production company that started 23 years back in the year 1997 on August 29th. The company’s primary business is a subscription-based streaming service offering movies, TV shows, and produce in-house. Due to the pandemic and everybody staying at home in April 2021 this OTT platform saw a spike with 208 million subscribers. The online streaming platform was founded by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. This app operates in 190 countries throughout the world and offers a variety of content through its online library.
Now before I start with the topic of Netflix culture let us first understand the ideal meaning of culture and how it works. The simple definition of culture can be said that as the arts and other manifestations of human beings’ intellectuals are regarded collectively as a whole. Culture is the characteristics and the knowledge of languages, religions, art, music, cuisine, etc of a particular group of people living in an environment. For example American culture, Indian culture, European culture, and so on. Culture can define a single person or an entire group of hundreds of people. Culture can also be said as a way of life each different from one another. Customs, laws, dressing style, architectural style, religious beliefs, traditions, and other things act as the components or elements of culture. Apart from different values that we learn from the culture it also plays a key role in economical and social benefits. Culture helps us to have a better life not just as individuals but also as a part of a community. It is high time people understand that culture should not be a means to discourage, demeanor have any kind of negative impact on any individual rather culture is supposed to be transparent, motivating, nurturing, connecting, flexible, progressive, and many more happy and positive adjectives that people can think of. What differentiates cultures from one another is their abstractness, patterns or learned behavior, attitudes, values, knowledge, symbols, languages, morals, principles, etc. Whether one is part of that culture or not, they need to respect and treat people of other cultures equally so that there is unity and healthy and good relationships among people. As Robert Allan says and I quote “Cultural differences should not separate us from each other rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity”
Comprehending Netflix Culture by Netflix
What better way is there to understand the culture rather than from the source itself. The Netflix culture that we are trying to understand is more about the employee culture that this company offers. Netflix like all other great companies strives to hire the best and value integrity, excellence, respect, inclusion, and collaboration. Netflix believes that their encouragement to independent decision making, sharing information openly, broadly, and deliberately by their employees is what makes them special. The company manifests in the idea that entertainment is like a friendship which is a human’s fundamental need and this idea helps understand different changes and have a common ground. Their idea is mainly based on entertaining the world and when they do so they have succeeded by bringing in more joy, empathy, and laughter. Netflix culture believes in being extraordinarily candid with each other, keeping only highly effective people, and avoiding rules. Their philosophy is people over process. Their approach is more on being fun, flexible, stimulating, creative, collaborative, and a successful organization. This kind of approach often makes it a dream company and team for many aspiring employees. The values of this firm are about getting rewarded or let go. Let us understand the kind of values that Netflix culture brings out:
- Judgment: The Company expects its employees to have good decision-making skills even they are in ambiguity and can find the roots of the problems and be one step forward and ahead of treating the symptoms. The employees must be strategic and should be well aware of what they are trying and not trying to do. They should be good at using data for their intuitions and have information regarding it. The employees’ decisions should be long-term and not short-term.
- Communication: Communication is the key to success in any company. Netflix expects its employees to be concise and articulate in their speech and writing. They expect them to be calm and patient and be able to listen understand and then react. They expect their employees to have the ability to work under high pressure. They expect adaptation in communication style by their employees so that people can work united though they don’t share a common native language. They want their people to be able to provide candid, helpful, timely feedback to their colleagues.
- Curiosity: This Company wants eager candidates who can learn and work rapidly. They should be able to deliver and contribute effectively outside their specialty. They should be able to make connections that often others miss. One should be able to understand their world and the process that goes behind entertaining them. They should be ready with an alternative perspective whenever required.
- Courage: Employees should be able to speak their minds in the best interest of the company even if they find it uncomfortable. They should be able to make decisions without any kind of agony. They should be open to failure and have the ability to make smart and efficient risks. They should also not be afraid to ask any questions related to inconsistency with the company’s values. They should keep in mind that when they are searching for the truth they are vulnerable.
- Passion: They should be able to inspire others with their excellence. They should be able to put others and the company’s success first. They should be tenacious and optimistic. An employee should be confident but not overconfident and always be humble.
- Selflessness: The employee should always think about Netflix first and then about their group and finally about themselves. One should always be open-minded about things and always have the urge to look for new ideas. Spending time to help one’s colleagues plays an integral role in Netflix.
- Innovation: It is really important to keep innovation ahead especially when it’s an OTT platform that has millions of users. One has to prove that they are useful by always being ready with new ideas. They should have the ability to re-conceptualize issues to find solutions to hard problems. They should be able to challenge assumptions and find better approaches. They should be able to simplify complicated things and thrive for new changes.
- Inclusion: It is really important to be able to effectively work with people of different backgrounds and cultures. They should be able to understand different perspectives and be willing to hear them out. It’s very natural that as human beings we all have our biases but we must grow past them and we become better individuals. Netflix expects this from all its employees and candidates. Acknowledging that different cultures and backgrounds are important rather than denying it completely and this one of the things that this company is striving for. It also important that if someone is being marginalized then it should be brought to light and some action should be taken against it.
- Integrity: Being part of an OTT platform that streams so many things are not easy and therefore it very crucial that as employees and candidates we need to be very non – political. Netflix strives for transparency, candor, and authenticity. My personal favorite is that employees are supposed to say things that they feel without any kind of gossip or backstabbing so that things are clear and very much in the present. One thing that’s often forgotten is that we are all human beings and we all make mistakes. Netflix culture makes it a point to accept their mistakes openly and freely. It is important to maintain respect among people regardless of status or kind of disagreement. Any kind of information gathered by employees should be put out even if it is worrisome.
- Impact: when all of the values of Netflix culture are met they believe that employees will be able to do a tremendous amount of work. All are expected to perform consistently and strongly so that they can rely upon each other. It is also a given responsibility that we make not just ourselves better but also our colleagues better. All are supposed to focus on the results over the process so that they are motivated and active all the time.
I admire all of these values that are promoted and have been expected to be followed by everyone. Though it might look ridiculous and funny or might look difficult and inappropriate it such things that make Netflix stand out. It is with these values that Netflix aspires to make things better not just for the organization but also for the people working in the organization. Netflix believes that feedback plays a very crucial role in their organization. Their culture depends on the way feedback works and has been given a lot of importance. This is a really good gesture as this helps them to maintain a good work-life among employees, maintain unity in diversity, empathy, and understanding among people who work there. I think there needs to be an implementation of this idea in all public and private sectors as it holds great benefit not just financially but also mentally and emotionally.
Netflix culture is even trying to cover the aspects of the following which needs to be noted as they are quite essential in a working environment. They are as following:
- Dream Team
- Freedom and Responsibility
- Informed Captains
- Disagree Openly
- Context Not Control
- Highly Aligned and Loosely Coupled
- Seeking Excellence
An explanation about the following is available in the official Netflix job and is worth a read. The billion-dollar company tries to explain why all of the above is necessary for a healthy and peaceful work environment that is open to all. Their culture happens to be their major asset and has proven to be strong and have a positive effect on the company.
Flacks Faced by Netflix culture
While Netflix culture is being praised and famed in a lot of places, because of its strong cultural ideas it also is facing a lot of flack. It can’t be completely agreed that Netflix culture is good or the other way around. There are several things about its values that can be appreciated but there are a lot of things in the presented values that are questionable. One of them would be expecting their employees to be good and constantly being active. Though he values do mention that the employees are supposed to help and support their colleagues sometimes it is just not possible or that person genuinely needs to take things slow for many reasons. Yes, it is agreeable that a company that is constantly streaming may find it difficult to take things a little slow but if it is for the sake of the people working for them then it must be looked into closely. Netflix aims and believes in transparency and honesty at all times and costs and there have been many reports that employees face a lot of problems regarding this. Such things can often make things dysfunctional which can harm the company itself. One thing that needs to be highlighted is that Netflix does not follow the idea of hypocrisy. It expects its employees to be open transparent and honest and the company follows it by making its culture a document that is easily available to the public from the year 2009. Netflix value and culture is not for everybody and hence it is advised that people read articles, the original Netflix job page, and sees a few videos about the workplace before they make their final decisions.
To conclude I would like to say that company culture matters a lot. The methods that are chosen by the company to treat their employees have an impact on everything and it can be good or bad.