By Heather A.
**The opinions expressed here and other places around the internet are mine and do not reflect those of my employer, family, friends, inanimate objects that may become sentient, or plants.**
Tqwana and I don’t hide our disdain for Amazon. We have vocalized our opinions about their bad business practices for a while. Since we work in publishing, we see first hand how dominant Amazon is in business decisions, and how those decisions affect authors and publishers. The whole deal with Hachette last year where Amazon refused to sell their books until a new deal was reached comes to mind. You can read some of my feelings about it here.
And now, with this New York Times article spelling out anecdotal evidence that Amazon might be a horrible place to work, this gives a new perspective into the cut throat business Amazon has been running. The ins and outs of Amazon have been largely kept secret and that’s usually pretty standard in competitive industries, but seeing behind closed doors gives a whole new perspective.
The one employee who said that their co-workers would routinely cry at their desks stood out for me. That is my number one warning sign that the job is mentally taking its toll to the point where the employee can’t separate their happiness from their work life. And what’s worse, no one did a damn thing about it.
Another anecdote about working through weekends, past midnight, having no work/life balance is more than just a pushy employer, it’s also signs of violating labor laws. Nancy Pelosi visited Amazon to speak about the Equality Act and said the government will look into any law violations, specifically those in which they discriminate against pregnant women.
According to one employee, however, things could not be better. Nick Ciubotariu had a viral post on LinkedIn defending the company. I’m skeptical of one employee vehemently defending Amazon when we have all this evidence from the Times article that contradicts everything. Possible ignorance? Privilege of his managerial position? In a Medium post, former Amazon book editor Julia Cheiffetz tells a different tale, one where the workplace is more favorable for employees who do not have children or families (or sympathy for that matter). Cheifttetz describes how when she returned from maternity leave (and cancer treatment) her employees had moved to a new manager and she was eventually phased out of her position.
We can look at other employee reviews on the site Glassdoor.com from former employees of the company. In an article for Forbes, we see a mixed reaction: “[Forbes writer Susan Adams] I confess I only read through 50 or 60 reviews for this post, but I found a cloudy picture, where some employees love their jobs and others echo many of the points made in the Times piece. “Work/life balance can be a struggle,” wrote a visual designer in Seattle on August 13. “Metrics-obsessed culture.” But under “Pros” he also wrote: “Really smart people, strong ownership of career path, huge potential for advancement.””
Jeff Bezos also addressed the public about the article, asking employees to report violations directly to him or through HR. He goes on to state that he doesn’t recognize the Amazon that is portrayed in the New York Times article: “More broadly, I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market. 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.”
He’s created this company culture, he’s enforcing it with it’s highly competitive nature. We can get mixed reactions all the time from any company, what matters in the end is the bottom line for all business, make money. And if that’s not happening, bad business practices start to develop. The screams of the many distraught former employees and the publishing perspective of withholding author income for negotiations, outweigh the seemingly good of cheap prices and fast delivery. At what cost do we get these conveniences?