Still Like Netflix Knowing Their Employees Work in Constant Fear?

Who wants to work at a place where the culture can be ruthless and demoralizing? How about brutal honesty, ritual humiliation, insider lingo, and constant fear? Sure you always dream about how cool it would be to work at Netflix for example, but the reality of working in Big Tech and many other corporations these days is very different.

You don't care you say, you want the salary, the prestige, the experience. Well apparently ruthless and demoralizing and working in constant fear is the Netflix way. What gives? According to The Wall Street Journal at Netflix, they count "radical candor and transparency" among their highest corporate values. OK... So that means when almost every employee can access sensitive information such as viewer numbers for Netflix’s shows, and when 500+ executives can see the salaries of every staffer, they want to demand the same transparency to evaluating performance? The problem with that is you don't treat humans the way you treat data.

Netflix actually encourages team dinners where everyone goes around and gives feedback and criticism about others at the table, and managers are encouraged to apply a "keeper test" to their staff... asking themselves whether they would fight to keep a given employee and firing those for whom the answer is no. In fact, Netflix infamous CEO Reed Hastings uses the keeper test himself, and last year fired one of the company’s first employees, a close friend for decades. One former Netflixer says she saw a fired colleague crying as she packed her boxes while other employees looked away, fearing that helping her would put a target on their back.

It's kill or be killed according to This is the kind of the place where the Chief Human Resources Officer created a 120-slide PowerPoint deck back in 2004 explaining Netflix’s culture of “freedom and responsibility.” She pushed them to keep only highly effective people and devised the keeper test. You can guess how the story ends: Hastings used the keeper test on her in 2011 and fired her. Don't worry, there's a NetLingo word for what she'll do next: ladder bypass.

For those of us who have endured this kind of corporate hell, it's disheartening to see that Big Tech and other corporations still don't care about bullying people to get rid of dead weight. What's even more challenging is that many employees join companies like this with their eyes open and they don't care either! Otherwise Netflix wouldn't have an 87 percent approval rating on Glassdoor. Netflix also took the No. 1 spot on a survey in which knowledge workers were asked which company they most wanted to join.

C'mon gang, we'll never get rid of this corporate culture of fear until people stop accepting it. The answer lies with you, with us... not with Reed Hastings and his cronies who are clearly acting out of fear themselves. Don't "want to work" there just because you spend so much of your valuable free time consuming their product. Better yet, boycott the product... they may not care in their hearts but they will when they feel it in their wallets. Our workplace environment should at least maintain common decency empower professionals to be their best possible versions.

- Erin Jansen, Internet Specialist, Social Psychologist, Founder of
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