World’s Most Innovative HR Departments

Great companies start with great human resources departments. HR teams lay the foundation of talent that allows companies to innovate and grow, while also developing healthy workplace cultures and strong employer brands.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the human resources strategies of four of the top companies in the world.


FedEx has sustained success by focusing on its people. In 1973, the company introduced its People-Service-Profit philosophy. The belief is that by taking care of its employees and creating a healthy work environment, FedEx employees will provide better service to customers, which in turn allows the company to grow. That philosophy still guides the company today.

Many of management’s decisions are guided by the feedback they receive in the annual Survey Feedback Action program, a virtual state of the union survey provided by the 335,000 FedEx employees. FedEx also works to create growth opportunities for its employees by promoting from within and providing tuition assistance for continuing education.


The car company has always been an innovator, since Henry Ford’s assembly line transformed manufacturing in 1913. Today, Ford’s mission is guided by the One Ford plan. Ford uses analytics to gather insights about its workforce and guide decision-making.

Structured training and consistent processes guided by data create a disciplined culture. By relying on data-driven processes rather than emotions, Ford strives to streamline communication and unite its employees all over the globe around common big-picture goals. HR helps to foster this one-team attitude from the time a new employee walks in the door.


The company that became a verb, Google has redefined corporate culture for the 21st century. Google’s HR department is called People Operations, and that’s what their mission is all about—finding the absolute best people and treating them like people, not cogs in a machine.

In evaluating over 2 million job applications a year, Google looks for four key attributes to determine whether a person fits the company: General cognitive ability, leadership ability, role-related knowledge, and “Googleyness.”

SEE ALSO: How Google Manages Goal-Setting and Performance Management

That last attribute is the X-factor, Google wants to find people that are unique and bring something different to the table than what the company already has. Filling the company with unique perspectives and ideas has allowed Google to constantly innovate and revolutionize not just the internet but our entire world.


Another company that has radically changed our society and how we interact with content, Netflix is also legendary in the HR world.

The company’s 127-slide PowerPoint deck—which covers Netflix’s principles for building company culture—has gone viral, with over 17.5 million views. Netflix was one of the first major companies to institute an unlimited PTO policy and eliminate formal performance reviews, instead asking managers to engage regularly in 360-degree performance conversations with their employees.

Netflix doesn’t just throw out clichés about corporate values, they actually live by them. They favor great, A-level performance over B-level hard work and they’re honest when an employee isn’t performing at that A-level; they want to find stars for every role. A key belief that shapes Netflix’s culture is that responsible people—self-motivated and self-disciplined—thrive on freedom, and providing employees freedom is the best way to attract and retain innovative talent.