What Internal Communications can Learn from Netflix: 5 things to consider to engage employees in 2021

By Guest Blogger Rebecca Korsen

With the promise of in person work still a distant glimmer of hope, employers should challenge themselves to continue to engage employees in 2021 in ways that connect and inspire them. There may be a lesson, or two companies can glean from streaming giant Netflix:


1. Everyone loves a story  Take for example, these hit series: New Girl”, “Stranger Things”, and or even an oldy, “Friends”. What do they have in common? A terrific story line that the audience connects with personally.  By the end of the first few episodes, the characters feel like family. Consider pushing story and friendships back into your organization. Give employees a story that they can bond over and share for seasons to come.

But where can you start? You don’t have to look far: your employees and stakeholders are the source for strong stories.  Putting employees work stories and successes center stage can unite and spark engagement. Employees are the backbone to any organization, why not let their work stories shape the company narrative? And don’t forget about customers.  Who do employees work for and to what end? Highlighting customer needs and solutions is another great story arc.  To capture this content, some companies dedicate a forum or webpage to make sure their stories and feedback are being shared to motivate and inspire collaboration.


2. On demand is in demand  Compelling stories readily available? Count us (and your employees) in!Netflix has excelled because it allows people to watch what they want, when they want. Consider how accessible your company’s content is. Just be mindful, working remote might put a wrench into individual user accessibility. With many organizations, working 100% remote, technology issues are bound to show up. So how can make the connection better? Measure accessibility to improve outreach. Possibilities include gauging employee activity through online surveys, clicks/likes per minute, or even by using email outreach to directly advertise available content!


3. Snackable content Grab a comfy seat, your popcorn, soda and candy; we are about to binge watch! Bingeable content is always in high demand because it is often short and sweet! Same goes for organizational trainings, announcements, and newsfeed content. All content should be straight forward and to the point yet entertaining and engaging. The window is small to capture your audience. Planning a series of bingeable content that is quick and easy to digest will maximize an employee’s workday.

Think about your own binging habits—if the content grabs you, it’s easy to tell yourself, “OK, I’ll watch one more episode; it’s only 23 minutes.” (We have lots of research that proves this.)  Now ask yourself: how bingeable is your organization content? Do you leave them craving one more story? One more “episode”?

4. Trending now – Users always have their preferences on what they like to watch. In an organization, same thing applies. How can we track user preferences to see what is trending? Data analytics can be extremely helpful to determinemost likes or most views narrowing down on personal preferences when it comes to most watched content. With this data, employers can highlight which organizational content is the most important and even consider which content should be the main focus. A simple 5-star rating of an article tells you employees accessed it, read it, and liked it! Even live events can provide important information about accessibility.  There are many response meters and ways to measure connectivity that will help create a clear connection that brings employees coming back for more. By measuring most views and most liked content, employers can provide personalized recommendations or even personalized watch lists to every employee. Everyone gets what they want and more!


5. What’s your “genre”? Netflix is ahead of the competition because it offers genres that attractevery user. If you had to pick what type of show your company is most aligned to, what would it be? While a company certainly is more than a Netflix series, considering an organization’s genre can spark some ideas on your storyline or “red thread” through communications. Take a look at some fun examples:


Mystery/Suspense:  Startup companies are an easy fit into this genre.  As companies work towards launching a big product, each day is filled with challenges (mysteries to solve) for smart, resourceful employees. Will the start-up make it? Will it succeed? The outcome is unknown, and it makes for some exciting, adrenalin pumping stories. Think Designated Survivor, Homeland, or Criminal Minds.

Heart-warming shows: Does your company focus on important social issues? Are you trying to make the world a better place? Non-profits are akin to the engaging, heart-warming series we love to watch.   Feel-good shows are watchable because they pull at our heartstrings and evoke an emotion that makes us want to join the cause and celebrate what’s good in the world. Somefavorites include Atypical, Babies, and Down to Earth with Zach Efron.

Rom-Coms: Romantic comedies make us laugh and feel good at the same time. This popular genre, often in movie format, is typically about bringing people together to find happiness and love–really to find a better existence. That’s an easy bridge to consumer good companies.  Consumer goods companies are focused on delivering products and services that make for a better existence for customers. So many favorites to choose from here, including When Harry Met Sally, The Notebook, or The Holiday.


Epic series: What type of company most aligns to the storylines we see in epic series? Large corporations are a best bet.  Epics are long sweeping tales that depict a rich history of characters, events, and themes. Established organizations with long histories and perhaps multiple divisions reflect the kind of grandeur and sagas often played out in epics.  The stories and the characters are complex and have lasting impact. There are so many examples to choose from, including Orange Is The New Black, The Crown, or The Last Czars.



It may seem like a stretch to mirror what employees are streaming during their off hours at home.  But as the lines between home and work continue to blend throughout quarantines and work-at-home mandates, you might find some of these watching trends useful as you tackle your 2021 communication plans. Looking for relevant content with impact, give us a call! We’ll help you create a great story!