Would you answer a work email after midnight? At Amazon, employees are apparently expected to reply to an email whatever the time, and if they don’t, a text message will be sent through to their phone asking why they didn’t answer.
In a scathing and somewhat scary report written by The New York Times, some Amazon employees have revealed what it’s really like to work for the etailer, and it isn’t pretty. According to the article, one employee revealed that he has seen almost all of his colleagues in tears in the office, while others revealed that there are regular staff culls to help keep workers alert and on their toes.
Bo Olson, former marketing executive at Amazon, said: “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face.
“Nearly every person I worked with I saw cry at their desk.”
The report has revealed a damaging insight into the world of a working employee at Amazon, who are told if they cannot keep up with the fast pace at the company, to ‘climb the wall’.
Those who work for Amazon are also encouraged to report on their fellow colleagues’ progress by using a special feedback tool, which lets them secretly criticise or applaud their colleagues’ efforts.
Some went on to reveal that workers who suffered traumatic experiences in their social life, such as miscarriages or fatal illnesses, were told to work as usual and were not given time to recover. For example, one employee was told she was ‘a problem’ after her father was diagnosed with cancer and had to cut back on her hours at work.
But, some employees thrive on the fast-paced environment at the etailer, and the best workers at Amazon are known as Amabots, who are ‘at one with the system and act almost like robots’.
Since the report was published, Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, has responded saying ‘the article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day’.
According to Business Insider, Bezos sent an internal memo to his ‘Amazonians’, which said: “Here’s why I’m writing to you. The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems.
"The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR.
"The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Again, I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either.
"I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company.
“But hopefully, you don’t recognise the company described. Hopefully, you’re having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way.”
Bezos’ reply is somewhat discomforting though, as he implies the story does not apply to the employees he directly works with, and he doesn’t flat out deny all the accusations in the report.
Amazon hasn’t always been seen in a favourable light, with the company previously being accused of tax avoidance. However, the firm is now set to pay more tax in European countries, including the UK.