The New York Times released a piece that gave very specific accounts about what happens in the Amazon workplace. The information was culled from interviews conducted on more than 100 current and former Amazon employees.
Based on their description and experiences, it would seem that the Amazon workplace is not for the faint of heart, for those with children, or for those who, heaven forbid, want to prioritize their families. This was a workplace where seeing rank and file employees crying at their desks was an ordinary occurrence, where people work 85 hours or more a week, and where people were treated like robots without feelings.
According to the NY Times, one female employee came out and shared that she was informed having a baby would be detrimental to her success. Another said she was literally forced to go on a business trip one day after she’d had surgery following a miscarriage. Most of those who asked for time out to deal with personal problems like a sick child, a dying parent or even those suffering from cancer were informed they might be placed on probation or let go.
— NYT Business (@nytimesbusiness) August 18, 2015
However, not every story about the Amazon workplace painted a portrait of a heartless and cutthroat environment. Some have described Amazon as a place with a “huge potential for advancement” where people can work with really smart colleagues and state of the art technology.
The report portrayed the Amazon workplace in such differing lights that some sites have questioned whether the New York Times article was fair or on target. But what is undeniable is that the article started a discussion on not just Amazon’s workplace but that of other metrics-driven companies.
It also shocked Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos enough that he sent a memo to staff members regarding the article. The memo, which was leaked, indicated that the 51-year-old magnate couldn’t believe that Amazon was the “soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard” described in the article. He further enjoined people “who know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR.” Or to email him “directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.” One woman has actually taken him up at his offer.
Despite what people say for or against Amazon and the New York Times article, it actually did a great service in showing the employment practices of a high-performing company as well as shed light on how workers today view their jobs.
[Image by Mario Tama, Getty Images]