Do you Work At (an) Amazon?

By Jeff Kilroy | Aug 20, 2015 | Uncategorized |

Do you Work At (an) Amazon?

Would you describe your work environment as an "experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers, redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable?" That's how a recent article in the New York Times described Amazon, a behemoth of an idea-machine that demands long hours, encourages peer-criticism and is unrelentingly demanding on employees.


Perhaps it's unfair to rest our focus too long on one company. But the number one online retailer in the world; the most valuable retailer in the country (eclipsing Walmart last month); a company worth over $250 billion, with a CEO coming in at the fifth-wealthiest person on the planet, ought to expect to come under the microscope. How else do we learn how start-ups evolve into billion-dollar money-making machines?


Well that fifth-wealthiest man is trying to implement a little damage control after the NYT article quoted former employees describing a workplace where people would regularly cry at their desks, where there's a system that encourages employees to comment to managers, behind the backs of their peers, about concerns and complaints. Jeff Bezos is asking employees to take a close look at the article and speak up if they, in fact, have experienced situations like the ones reported.


And if they do? That wasn't addressed.


The Flock to Amazon


A Business Insider article from 2012 touted Amazon as THE place to work in Seattle. Why? It had recently moved out of an aged VA hospital to a new, modern campus. The new location's in a "way cooler" part of town--closer to downtown Seattle in the South Lake Union neighborhood which was then just an up-and-coming area. Other reasons the article name Amazon the "it" company:


  • Amazon's sophisticated technology was "sexy."
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  • Their company motto is "work hard, play hard, make history," making employees feel a part of something big and fun, provided they're willing to work for it.
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  • The Kindle was just released, Amazon's contribution to the "post-PC" marketplace, boosting hopes for success.
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  • It's a known forward-thinking, continuously developing machine with new product lines like video streaming, an online music store and publishing house.


Bezos has been called a "first-class genius," and who wouldn't want to work for that? And he minces no words, telling new recruits, "It's not easy to work here."


Why Do It?


Opportunity to break out as an innovator; a leader; as the developer of the next big thing are all within arm's reach (and long day's work, and iron-strong backbones). The question begs to be asked: If you're willing to do all that for Amazon, can you do it for yourself? The NYT article points to those interviewed saying what they learned during their brief time at Amazon helped their careers take off.


Amazon is growing, expecting to be able to house 50,000 employees in the next three years. Do you desire to be one of them? What do you think of their philosophies?



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