6 reasons Amazon employees burn out so fast
A new profile of CEO Jeff Bezos sheds some light on the tense work environment at the online retail giant.
Anyone who has read the Walter Isaacson biography of Apple (AAPL) founder Steve Jobs knows that as inspiring as he was to millions, even to those outside of the business community (do people leave candles and flowers in front of any other store when the boss dies?), he was certainly not always fun to work for.
According to the article, which is excerpted from Brad Stone's new book "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," the company has very poor employee retention for a huge tech company. Its median employee tenure is just one year. Even Wal-Mart (WMT), which is a notoriously bad place to work, has a median 3.3-year tenure. IBM (IBM), which Amazon now competes with in enterprise cloud computing, has a 6.4-year tenure.
Got a complaint for Amazon? Email the CEO. It's email@example.com. Bezos will forward it to the right person, adding just a question mark. The recipient has to drop everything and explain him or herself, and that response must percolate up through management right back to the CEO.
If you get a job with Amazon, don't expect the sorts of freebies that Google (GOOG) doles out, like a phone and a free cafeteria.
New hires get an industry-average base pay, and a signing bonus spread out over two years. They also receive restricted shares of a sky-high stock that vests over four years, with a bigger payout toward the end of the period.
How would you like your boss to ask, "Why are you wasting my life?" at the end of your presentation? Apparently Bezos is capable of some mortifying insults when he is disappointed. The employees Stone interviewed believe that Bezos lacks empathy, which allows him to ignore the human element of management and make the most rational decisions possible for the company.
One former associate of Amazon says that Bezos's laugh sometimes instills fear. He laughs when nothing is funny. He laughs to "punish" people for falling short of his high standards.
Can't comment on the higher ups at Amazon but I reluctantly took a temp job at their warehouse over the holidays last year. 11 hour shifts with only one day off a week. Many people take the bus and it can be a two hour ride (one way) so we literally would work, sleep, then wake up to go straight back to work. Like most temp jobs they call it "temp to hire" and dangle the carrot of a permanent job in front of these poor people who are desperate for steady work. But in order to get that "permanent" job you have to make no mistakes and have good quotas. Sad that this is an industry standard to make the temp workers live in fear of being fired every day.
Amazon seemed a bit worse because in addition to people who watch you and ding you for not working safely enough (i.e. standing on tiptoe is not allowed nor is putting a heavy item on the lowest shelf), they have people who go around every day monitoring your speed and accuracy. They play the mind game saying you're going too slow one day then the next day when you're moving faster they decide to judge you by neatness. So then you slow down to make your shelves neater and you're dinged for going too slow again. Vicious circle and it is stated quite clearly that if you don't improve you will be let go. Every day someone you know doesn't come back. Those of us who did not want to make it our career and were just doing this for extra money were actually happy to get laid off and not offered that "permanent" job. But I feel so bad for my coworkers who worked so hard hoping to get hired on full time. Of all the people I started with who made it all the way thru without being let go, I only knew ONE person who was not laid off the first week of January. Cruel to string people along that way.
"Even the vending machines cost money"????? Well, yes, they are "vending" machines. And Amazon picks up all but $40 of the $220 per month parking tab? Evil, I tell you, evil!!!
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