- Amazon has fostered the reputation of having high employee burnout.
- But the company recently answered some of its critics by announcing on Tuesday that it will raise its US minimum wage to $US15 an hour.
- Employees on Glassdoor praised the learning opportunities the company afforded, but also reflected upon what they described as a cutthroat environment.
In the past several years, various articles have surfaced in the media describing the company’s approach to inspiring performance from staff.
For instance, in 2015, the New York Times published an article in which employees referred to Amazon’s work culture as “bruising.” Bob Olson, a former Amazon Books Marketing employee, said then that “nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”
More recently, the company has also come under fire from politicians like Bernie Sanders for what he characterised as inadequate benefits and pay.
In response to that type of criticism, Amazon just boosted its minimum wage in the US to $US15 an hour. Business Insider’s Isobel Asher Hamilton reported that the change will affect 250,000 full- and part-time employees, as well as 100,000 seasonal workers.
To get a better sense of what it’s really like to work at Amazon beyond the headlines, Business Insider sifted through hundreds of reviews submitted to job site Glassdoor within the last year. Here’s what employees have to say about the company these days.
Amazon fares well on Glassdoor, overall
While the average company rating on Glassdoor from current and former employees is a 3.4 out of a possible 5, Amazon receives an above average rating of 3.8 as of October 2, 2018. This is up from its score of 3.4 in 2015.
Of the 25,009 current and former employees who have submitted Amazon reviews on Glassdoor, 74% said that they would recommend the company to a friend.
Amazon also rates favourably on Glassdoor in other categories including CEO approval, culture and values, work-life balance, benefits, and career opportunities.
Employees say they are surrounded by extremely intelligent people
As of February 1st, 2018, there were approximately 978 Amazon reviews from employees that feel they are surrounded by intelligent people who are genuinely proud of what they do.
“Really smart people, a lot of opportunity for growth, always encouraged to be innovative, think big, and create something new,” said a current web development engineer in Seattle.
A current senior manager said that “exceptionally smart people are the norm. The overall approach to creatively inventing ways around obstacles is refreshing.”
“My coworkers aren’t routinely defeated by operational challenges,” he said.
Some employees continue to report a cutthroat work environment
Although the company says that it has made efforts to alter its “Hunger Games” review process, employees have said otherwise.
“Ultimately, you are going to fill your warehouses not with the best employees, but with the most cunning,” said a sortation associate in Philadelphia.
A former designer in Seattle posted that “many people there are very driven and will do whatever it takes to get ahead, including stomping on others.”
But this has not been the case for everyone.
One employee reported that Amazon has the “best work culture environment, friendly management, space to grow.”
It appears the employee experience differs based on the surrounding team members and relevant managerial staff.
Employees say there is ample opportunity for them to build upon their skill sets
“Amazon is full of opportunity. It can be an exciting, dynamic place to work where you learn a lot every day,” said an anonymous employee on Glassdoor.
“Many teams at Amazon are flexible and provide supportive work environments with ample opportunities for career development and growth,” the employee said.
If you are able to find your niche within the company, there is definitely going to be room to further your career.
Though Amazon received an overall favourable work-life balance rating, some employees say it can be rough
Over 440 reviews on Glassdoor specifically mentioned a lack of work-life balance in their Amazon careers.
A former senior software engineer in Seattle said that employees are doing “exciting work, but say goodbye to your life.”
“Extreme hours and horrible work-life balance. Be prepared to work a minimum of 12 hours everyday and up to 15-16 hours for months on end,” said a current area manager in Haslet, Texas, “Upper management doesn’t respect your work life balance and mandatory overtime is a constant thing.”
A current marketing manager within the company has said that staff can even be “expected to work on vacation.”
However, this does not seem to be the case for everyone. “People’s mileage may vary based on their team, but I personally have a very good work-life balance and enjoy coming in every day,” said a designer in the Seattle area said on Glassdoor.
A senior sales consultant in Charleston, South Carolina, even said, “Of all the organisations and previous roles I’ve experienced so far in my career, Amazon has set the bar for work-life balance. “
Employees can work from home
More than 280 reviews expressed content with the company’s policy that allows certain employees to work from home whenever they want.
“How can you beat a job that lets you choose your own hours?” said an employee based in Arizona. “You can work in your pjs and there’s no commute.”
Although not every position within the company allows its employees to work remotely, management can sure be open to the possibility.
Employees say the management can be hit or miss
Although Amazon’s management staff scored a 3.4 out of 5 on Glassdoor’s reviews, there seems to be no shortage of complaints regarding the company’s upper-level employees.
“In 1863 Lincoln freed the slaves and in 1995 Jeff Bezos found a loophole,” said an account executive in Seattle.
“I have worked for some of the most notorious sadists in New York City, and none of them hold a candle to the managers that I have encountered during my year at Amazon,” they said.
Another employee said that “Management isn’t always on the same page. They also make frequent changes to things that can confuse people, especially when communication site-wide is missing.”
On the other hand, certain employees have also revered the management style.
“Great for independent employees. You get a fair amount of autonomy with large scope,” said a current senior product manager. “The company balances speed and scale in an impressive way.”
Employees receive competitive benefits and compensation
Many employees within the company say that their pay is extremely fair. Glassdoor reports a score of 3.8 out of 5 on the topic of employee satisfaction with compensation and benefits.
“The pay is above average, probably 1.5 times elsewhere,” said a current finance manager of the company. “Of course, with high pay comes higher expectations. But the expected results are 150% of elsewhere too,” he said.
With respect to benefits, a current senior business development manager said that “health insurance, time off, and 401K are all equal to or better than what I have seen in similarly sized companies.”
There are also great perks for many of Amazon’s employees to enjoy, including a breakfast and juice bar on Mondays and happy hour on Fridays.
Employees say the company can reward performance without merit
Some employees have stated that the company is willing to condone malicious behaviour for the sake of achieving results.
“Bullies thrive and are rewarded, while promotions are given to people taking credit for lower level employees’ work,” said an anonymous employee. “HR is never on your side and can provoke retaliation.”
An employee in Seattle said that “People are never penalised for being outright jerks, as no leadership principle pertains to that.”
Dominic Umbro wrote a previous version of this article.
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