Amazon’s workplace culture: Anachronistic, or coolly efficient?

A veteran HR exec was stunned to read the New York Times piece about life inside the behemoth online retailer, a depiction that founder Jeff Bezos denied. But does the model appeal to some?

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

“Nearly every person I worked with I saw cry at their desk,” said former Amazon employee Bo Olson, who worked in book marketing, “or they very wisely chose to leave Amazon.”

Over coffee the other morning, I glanced at my Google alerts and came across a New York Times article titled Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace. Twenty minutes later, I sat back and gazed out the window in astonishment. The quote above and those below were just a few of the statements from employees past and present.

Explanations such as, “We’re not totally sure,” or, “I’ll get back to you,” are not acceptable, many employees said. Some managers dismissed such responses as “stupid” or told workers to “just stop it.”

Ideas are critiqued so harshly in meetings at times that some workers fear speaking up.

“You learn how to diplomatically throw people under the bus,” said a marketer who spent six years in Amazon’s retail division. “It’s a horrible feeling.”

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.