Amazon boss hits back at claims of “bruising” corporate culture
Over the weekend (15th August), the New York Times published an article concerning the various workplace practices of Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer. For example, one former Amazon HR director commented that the annual culling of staff led to “purposeful Darwinism” while another reported that “nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.” The article described the culture as follows; “At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.”
In response to this, Amazon’s boss Jeff Bezos has written a memo to staff that the “article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know”. He encouraged employees to read the article and email him directly if it recognised any of the “shockingly callous management practices.” He went on to add; “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… The people we hire here are the best of the best. You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.”
Many of the claims made were also refuted by Nick Ciubotariu, a current employee, on LinkedIn; “No one tells me to work nights. No one makes me answer emails at night. No one texts me to ask me why emails aren’t answered.” This is not the first time that the retailer has hit the headlights over purported working conditions. At Christmas 2013, Amazon UK came under fire for increasing risk of mental illness. The article does serve as a strong warning however, that in times of social media, workplace conditions of even the biggest employers can and will come under scrutiny.