Amazon (AMZN) boss Jeff Bezos, seemingly reeling from a brutal New York Times article that described the online retail colossus as an unrelentingly cruel, abusive place to work, cautioned staffers that the harsh behavior described in the piece will not be tolerated.
The NY Times article relied on interviews with some 100 current and former Amazon employees, many of whom painted an unflattering picture of the working environment as an over-the top, hard-charging place where managers regularly humiliated employees and pushed them to the point of exhaustion, all in the name of finding the new normal of productivity and efficiency.
Gee, it kind of sounds like your basic day in any one of a number of Silicon Valley companies, doesn’t it? Maybe the only difference is Amazon isn't headquartered in IT's ground zero.
In an email to employees, Bezos said the article described an Amazon unrecognizable to him, and urged employees witnessing such boorish behavior to report it to the company’s human resources department or directly to him.
He said if he worked for a company like the one described in the article he would leave, adding that he hoped Amazon staffers are having fun while “helping to invent the future.”
GeekWire obtained the email and posted it in its entirety:
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to give this (very long) New York Times article a careful read:
I also encourage you to read this very different take by a current Amazonian:
Here’s why I’m writing you. The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at [email protected] Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.
The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. 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. 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.
I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company.
But hopefully, you don’t recognize the company described. Hopefully, you’re having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way.