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Problem Scenario: Amazon’s employees report about multiple cases of workplace disregard, the lack of benefits and praise as well as unfair ranking system that creates the need to analyze the corporate culture of the organization in an attempt to reveal core strengths and weaknesses and establish an appropriate working environment, thus enhancing employees’ satisfaction.
The approach selected by Amazon’s management seems to be rather insensitive and harsh in relation to employees. It is especially observable regarding those who have to encounter serious health or life hardships, such as cancer, accidents, or divorce (Rosin). In response to multiple reports, the company’s spokesman – Craig Berman – claims that this attitude is not their policy or practice, thus rejecting the mentioned issue. Moreover, Amazon is insensitive to its employees while they need support and understanding to perform their work effectively.
As a rule, a large and stable business is insensitive to the loss of not only employees but also managers as the structure and organization of business processes of large companies are built in such a way as to minimize risks. In particular, in Amazon, each manager is required to have several successors – the potential candidates who can replace him or her, if required (Kim). Such candidates can become both employees of the company and people from the outside.
The manager oversees their career growth, helps them develop, and tries to develop a commendable successor. This, however, does not mean that the role of each individual employee is so small that it is impossible or unworthy to fight for it. People are the key source in a company of any size, and the success of a business depends on their professionalism, motivation, and well-coordinated work.
In offices, Amazon uses a self-reinforcing management system and psychological tools to encourage tens of thousands of office workers to new achievements. The company applies a continuous algorithm to boost up the efficiency of its employees. However, the measures are rather controversial. For instance, psychological pressure is used while asking employees to report about problems occurring with their work. The most difficult questions are asked about the failure in work, when, for example, customers did not receive their orders on time (McCray et al. 48). Such conversations severely hamper the rest of the work as employees should take all these metrics as part of the overall workflow and make their minds work with plenty of details under stressful conditions. As a result, workers feel that their work is never finished or not done well enough to meet the company’s requirements.
Lack of Benefits
The mission of Amazon is to be the most client-oriented company in the world and continuously enhance service standards. Putting a customer at the forefront, the company can be merciless to its competitors and, most importantly, to employees (Kim). This means that offering low prices and fast shipping, Amazon offers almost no benefits to staff members. On the contrary to Google and Microsoft that focuses on employees’ wellness, nutrition, and special benefits, Amazon does not promote personal value in employees (Rosin). While successful managers receive competitive wages, the rest of the employees are expected to be fragile, as stated in rule number nine declared by the company. This implies that workers should independently pay for their leisure, phones, and travel expenses.
Moreover, according to the first rule of Amazon’s corporate culture, employees should prioritize customer service over their own obsession (Kim). It should also be emphasized that the company requires workers to partially pay for their relocation expenses in case they quit within two years. The mentioned aspects illustrate that Amazon’s employees experience the lack of benefits that inevitably leads to stress and burnout. The company’s leadership considers employees to be a large system of elements, which can easily be replaced by similar ones.
Disregarding Employees’ Need for Work-Life Balance
The work-life boundaries are also not followed in the company. “One time I didn’t sleep for four days straight”, as noted by Dina Vakkari, the manager of gift cards to other companies (Rosin). Once she paid to the Indian freelancer so that he could enter more data into the database for her. She and other employees did not lack a career choice, but they said they absorbed the priorities of Amazon. Another example is the fiancé of one of the former employees, whose partner worked till 10 PM and did not agree to go home. The mentioned examples clearly show that employees do not have enough time to rest.
Both former and current Amazon employees dissatisfied with working conditions have created the Former and Current Employees (FACE) website, presenting anonymous feedback on the company’s corporate culture. The key problem, as stated by the website authors, is that Amazon uses excessive power of managers while such abuse leads to the emotional burnout of employees and worsens the atmosphere inside the company (Kim).
The creators of FACE believe that the feedbacks and reviews provided on the website would prompt the company to solve issues in management and HR. In case there would be no changes, the members of the organization assure to seek to adopt the legislative measures. FACE already published more than 100 negative reviews about the company’s internal culture along with the open letter addressed to Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, claiming to improve the current situation. Taking into account that Amazon employs more than 230,000 employees, the audience of this website is extremely small, yet it may rapidly grow in case of the lack of adequate measures (Kim). The representatives of Amazon declined to comment on this case.
Lack of Praise
The new employees should receive an introductory lecture, according to which they are ordered to forget bad habits acquired at previous jobs. To become the best Amazons, they need to follow the 14 principles of leadership that are put on comfortable laminated cards and specify the corporate culture of the organization.
In Amazon, employees are encouraged to criticize other people’s ideas at meetings, lateness, and other related issues. The core idea is that employees should motivate themselves based on their own efforts, thus integrating into the system and becoming a single whole. The culture of the company encourages the entrepreneurial abilities of employees as well as the ability to take responsibility and bring results (O’Reilly et al. 602).
However, disputes and conflicts are not uncommon here as the company considers that everyone should be able to defend and argue his or her point of view. In this regard, the internal environment seems to be overly aggressive. The lack of praise demotivates employees to develop and achieve the stated goals, instead of focusing on self-motivation and the ability to cope with daily routine.
Unfair Systems of Ranking
Criticism in the company goes through the special Anytime Feedback Tool, through which employees can complain or praise either colleagues or management. While the managers can identify the authors of the messages, they are usually not known to the one about whom these messages were written. Thus, every employee has a rating, and employees with the worse rating are to be fired at the end of the year. Utilizing the above tool, Amazon pursues competitiveness and productivity within the company, yet it causes the fact that everyone tries to surpass the others (Flamholtz and Randle 83). Even though according to managers, most of the reports are positive, employees call them “a river of intrigues and machinations” (Kim).
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This system of ranking seems to be quite unfair as the authenticity of the information regarding one or the other employee cannot be guaranteed by the author of the complaint. In effect, the system creates plenty of false messages and deteriorates the working atmosphere by disrupting trust and respect between staff members as well as between the latter and management. In addition, the so-called Organization Level Reviews conducted on an annual basis serve as a basis to discuss the lower-level employees in the presence of the higher-level works (Rosin). Such meetings can be regarded as unethical as they may diminish one’s role in the organization and insult his or her feelings.
The preparation for this event is reminiscent of the preparation for judicial protection: in order to avoid the loss of valuable team members, they should prepare strong evidence to protect the unjustly accused and blame members of other teams.
Flamholtz, Eric G., and Yvonne Randle. “Corporate Culture, Business Models, Competitive Advantage, Strategic Assets and the Bottom Line.” Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, vol. 16, no. 2, 2012, pp. 76–94.
Kim. Eugene. “There’s a Website Just for Upset Amazon Employees to Post Reviews, and its Organizers Want a Union.” Business Insider. 2017. Web.
McCray, J. P., et al. “Transformational Crisis Management in Organizational Development: A Focus on the Case of Barnes & Noble vs. Amazon.” Organization Development Journal, vol. 30, no. 1, 2012, pp. 39–52.
O’Reilly, C. A., et al. “The Promise and Problems of Organizational Culture: CEO Personality, Culture, and Firm Performance.” Group & Organization Management, vol. 39, no. 6, 2014, pp. 595–625.
Rosin, Tamara. “9 Key Issues with Amazon’s Corporate culture.” Becker’s Hospital Review. 2015. Web.