As Netflix has grown into a media giant, helping to revolutionize how we consume television, it has developed a tough corporate culture with high standards.
A Wall Street Journal report on Thursday shed light on the streaming service’s radical ways based on anecdotes from over 70 former and current employees. According to the Journal, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is “unencumbered by emotion,” and routinely uses a “keeper test” to evaluate employees.
He even used it to fire Netflix’s chief product officer and his close friend, Neil Hunt, last year. Hunt had been with Netflix for 18 years.
What is a keeper test? Here’s how Netflix has described it: “If one of the members of the team was thinking of leaving for another firm, would the manager try hard to keep them from leaving.” If an employee doesn’t pass the keeper test, they’re “promptly and respectfully given a generous severance package so we can find someone for that position that makes us an even better dream team,” Netflix said.
Some managers told the Journal they felt pressured into firing people or “risk looking soft.”
In regards to Hunt, Hastings felt the company had grown past its need for him, and told Hunt that former international development officer Greg Peters would be taking his place as product chief.
“I would not have chosen to move on at that particular moment, but you have to separate the emotion from the logic,” Hunt told the Journal.
Hastings’ commitment to the keeper test has left some executives uneasy. According to the Journal, at a meeting of Netflix public-relations executives in the spring, many expressed that they feared they would lose their jobs every day they came to work.
Here’s how Netflix responded to the Journal piece:
“We believe strongly in maintaining a high performance culture and giving people the freedom to do their best work. Fewer controls and greater accountability enable our employees to thrive, making smarter, more creative decisions, which means even better entertainment for our members. While we believe parts of this piece do not reflect how most employees experience Netflix, we’re constantly working to learn and improve.”