Is Amazon a Hellish Workplace?

business_ethics_highlights_2Amazon is an innovative tech giant. Working there must be incredibly exciting. But according to some reports, it’s also pretty brutal. The New York Times recently published an exposé, to which Amazon’s CEO responded. A key question has to do with the extent to which employees opt in to Amazon’s unique workplace culture. If some people love it, is that good enough? Or does the fact that some people hate it mean that the company must change? >>>

LINK: Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace (by Jodi Kantor & David Streitfeld in NY Times)

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)

[According to one former employee] “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he said. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk….”

Then, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos responded:

LINK: Jeff Bezos says Amazon won’t tolerate ‘callous’ management practices (by Jodi Kantor & David Streitfeld in Globe & Mail)

…Jeff Bezos, the retail giant’s founder and chief executive, said he did not recognize the workplace portrayed in the article and urged any employees who knew of “stories like those reported” to contact him directly.
“Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero,” Bezos said in an email circulated to all the retailer’s employees….

What do you think?

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  1. Kaitlyn O`Neill

    I think that regardless of an organization`s culture, there will always be people who love it, and people who hate it. I don’t think that Amazon should change its workplace culture because some people are not in favor of it. I think what is important is that Amazon is forward and honest regarding their workplace culture. It`s one thing if the company tells potential employees that the workplace culture is relaxed and warm, when it`s not. If Amazon makes potential employees aware of how difficult it can be to work there, and makes them aware of the principles that their organization rests upon, then employees have no reason to complain, as they are willingly choosing to enter such an environment. Some people thrive under stress and pressure, and look to work in an environment that is going to challenge them as much as possible; others don’t do well when placed in this kind of a position. I think the company should enforce the culture that works for them, and that has allowed them to obtain the tremendous success that they have. I think what the company needs to focus on is ensuring that they are attracting the right people, who can handle the company`s tough environment; doing so will likely improve their employee retainment rates as well.

  2. Pingback: Mr. Robot and the Banality of (Corporate) Evil |

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