Questioning the efficiency of Jeff Bezos’ approach towards his employees
The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its…www.nytimes.com
Despite this article is now three years old, it is still resounding: after those revelations were made, business professors from all over the world have been encouraging their students to analyze Amazon’s approach towards its employees. The nature of the present piece of work, however, is not moral-oriented (as every previous one about it), instead I would like to demostrate how the Amazon’s C.E.O is making a profound business error following this method.
Bezos’s work environment mostly looks as a Big Brother-like dictatorship, if you can stand to keep on reading its ex employees statements. I personally comprehend and respect the C.E.O’s view and ambitions about its company, but there are many approaches that can lead you to make your business become the most profitable and important, turning your employees into almost slaves being not the most preferable. Also, I totally relate with a rigorous and strict working philosophy, but there are needed limits to everything: “marathon conference calls on Easter Sunday and Thanksgiving” or “criticism from bosses for spotty internet access on vacation” are something really far from the convenient balance one company’s policy requires. Though, the aspect that have shocked me the most is the workers’ possibility to snitch among each other to their bosses (“you learn how to diplomatically throw people under the bus”), as I believe it creates a paranoid feeling that is constantly sweeping between every colleague, and a really depressing environment in general.
But, what I really think as a big flaw in Jeff Bezos’ method is the continuous and massive employee turnover, especially regarding some of its consequences; it has in fact been said that only 15% of the workers at Amazon’s are there from more than four years.
First things first, the most common reason why people there get fired so often is an employee’s unexpected lack of availability (mentally or phisically) which, Amazon fears, will lead to a minor productivity. Sounds reasonable, right? The problem is that Bezos’ philosophy actively neglects the needs of people in certain, delicate situations, such as the ones with a newborn child or the ones in family mourning. Now follow my stream of thoughts. The C.E.O repetitevely shouts about wanting to find the best, most brilliant workers out there; doesn’t he expect, then, that the most intelligent people seek for building something in their life other than their career? Doesn’t he expect that those kind of people would have many needs, other than money and success inside of a company? As we read in the article, people in their 40’s fear being replaced by the ones in their 30’s, while the latter are scared by the 20-years-olds, and not because of the possible outperformance, but rather because of the extra time that the youngsters might have. That mechanism makes me think that in order to select those which could possibly be the most exploitable in terms of working time would be much preferred to those that already have, for example, a family with kids, even if they could become the next Bill Gates. This to me sounds exactly like choosing quantity over quality. By firing one employee who could not give is best in the last period of his permance in the company due to a cancer (example) and hiring a twentysomething who has applied, Amazon as a company loses the trust of its every other employee, gains really bad notoriety and takes the risk of firing a genius for hiring a no-one. This trait leads Amazon to look like a sweatshop, instead of the creative-enhancement-innovative environment the ads talk about. A business needs to be supported by the ones that every once in a while need support by the business itself, otherwise we’re not talking about employing, but using.