Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) wants to make its employees happy. One way to do this is to “radically” simplify the reviews of its staff. The online retail giant wants to reform its controversial program as it continues to post record growth. Will this pacify the workers who are upset over the way the tech juggernaut treats its employees? Only time will tell.
Amazon.com, Inc. Will be ‘Radical’ Over Staff Reviews
As part of the website’s annual staff performance, Amazon is looking to either alter or toss out how it assesses its workers. By doing this, Amazon may very well get rid of a controversial standard that has driven its hiring and promotion program. The website has argued time and again that this system has produced high quality and immense productivity.
The details are unknown at this time. But the new system is scheduled to begin next year.
Right now, Amazon maintains an employee ratings system. This ratings system is the basis for a stack-rank or, as critics like to call it, rank-and-yank. The technique is used by businesses in order to let go the worst-performing employees and promote those who are the best-performing employees.
Amazon issued a statement to GeekWire confirming the move:
“We’re launching a new annual review process next year that is radically simplified and focuses on our employees’ strengths, not the absence of weaknesses. We will continue to iterate and build on the program based on what we learn from our employees.”
One of the world’s richest firms has more than 300,000 workers. Its workforce goes up every year, which is aided by the increase in its warehouse and distribution network.
Despite the number of workers it employs, it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops at Amazon.
Amazon.com, Inc.’s Relationship with Staff
For years, Amazon staff members have aired their grievances about working at the firm. Their experiences were on display for the entire public after the New York Times posted an in-depth piece in Aug. 2015.
Entitled “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” CEO Jeff Bezos has reportedly fostered a culture of workers tearing apart each other’s ideas, answering emails after midnight – you may receive several text messages later asking why the emails were not answered – and holding to standards the firm even concedes are “unreasonably high.”
Soon after the article was published, Jay Carney, Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Affairs at Amazon and former White House Press Secretary, responded with an op-ed entitled “What The New York Times Didn’t Tell You.” Here is an excerpt of the piece:
When the story came out, we knew it misrepresented Amazon. Once we could look into the most sensational anecdotes, we realized why. We presented the Times with our findings several weeks ago, hoping they might take action to correct the record. They haven’t, which is why we decided to write about it ourselves.
The Times got attention for their story, but in the process they did a disservice to readers, who deserve better. The next time you see a sensationalistic quote in the Times like “nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk”, you might wonder whether there’s a crucial piece of context or backstory missing — like admission of fraud — and whether the Times somehow decided it just wasn’t important to check.
It is accepted that if applicants are hired one day then they may not be there a week, month or year later.
“This is a company that strives to do really big, innovative, groundbreaking things, and those things aren’t easy,” said Susan Harker, Amazon’s top recruiter. “When you’re shooting for the moon, the nature of the work is really challenging. For some people it doesn’t work.”
Earlier this year, a website called the Former And Current Employees (FACE) of Amazon was launched. It received 100s of complaints from past and present workers.
Here is what one post said:
“They suck the life out of employees then give them the boot when they are all used up. The very WORST people are always given promotions and then they get to decide your fate.”
It also included an open letter to Bezos, threatening that employees may launch a workplace union.
Since then, Amazon has attempted to rectify the situation. It has experimented with part-time 30-hour work weeks for three of its teams. Amazon has said that it will keep the 40-hour work week intact for much of the workforce because it works.
With the revision to its performance reviews, the workplace culture may change. Don’t tell that to the pessimistic longtime employees, though. They’ll just laugh.