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Amazon's Workplace Atmosphere and The NYT's Expose' Article

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posted on Aug, 27 2015 @ 05:24 PM
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In talking with my nephew today, the main subject revolved around his workplace(Amazon) and a recent NYT article featuring ex-employees and their tales of harrowing policies, the cost of success and advancement, and the rebuttal to the allegations from founder Jeff Bezos. He admitted to me that much of the content was factual, and he personally thrived in the dog-eat-dog, cut-throat atmosphere that permeates the workplace at Amazon:

Of all of his management notions, perhaps the most distinctive is his belief that harmony is often overvalued in the workplace — that it can stifle honest critique and encourage polite praise for flawed ideas. Instead, Amazonians are instructed to “disagree and commit” (No. 13) — to rip into colleagues’ ideas, with feedback that can be blunt to the point of painful, before lining up behind a decision.


In my nephews words, many of those tagged for input in the article are ex-employees who weren't capable of handling the stress and commitments required, in effect, "sour grapes". He expressed the notion that while he felt sympathy for some of the ordeals the ex-employees suffered through, but they knew what was required for job performance, and were told up front what was entailed to ensure expectations in job performance:

Company veterans often say the genius of Amazon is the way it drives them to drive themselves. “If you’re a good Amazonian, you become an Amabot,” said one employee, using a term that means you have become at one with the system.



The process begins when Amazon’s legions of recruiters identify thousands of job prospects each year, who face extra screening by “bar raisers,” star employees and part-time interviewers charged with ensuring that only the best are hired. As the newcomers acclimate, they often feel dazzled, flattered and intimidated by how much responsibility the company puts on their shoulders and how directly Amazon links their performance to the success of their assigned projects, whether selling wine or testing the delivery of packages straight to shoppers’ car trunks.


The article is an unflattering take on Amazon, and vilifies the workplace atmosphere it embraces. To work there, as my nephew puts it,"you've gotta be at peak performance at all times", but to thrive and advance you must "live it, breath it, be it. Your homelife comes second". For a young man in his late 20's, getting hired and rising within the ranks at Amazon speaks volumes for his drive, but I'm not fully aware of it's effects on his wife and 2 boys.

Please read the article, and post what you think:
www.nytimes.com...

Here is Bezo's defense of his company and workplace pratices:
www.theguardian.com...

I'd be very interested on any input from past and present employees of Amazon. Enjoy!




posted on Aug, 27 2015 @ 05:31 PM
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Sounds like just about every company I've ever worked with or* for, and, as a consultant, that's been quite a lot. I used to think there was a difference between publically held and privately held companies, and there sort of is, but each has their own brand and flavor of cut throat, it's still there. If I had to sum it up briefly, I'd say the old adage of form over substance applies pretty well. The snake oil salesman gets more glory that the harder working grunts.

*or for
edit on 8/27/2015 by ~Lucidity because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 27 2015 @ 05:37 PM
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Some people may be up in arms, decrying the conditions of Amazon...

Later that night, they'll be checking the "lightning deals" and booting up a movie from Prime....



posted on Aug, 27 2015 @ 05:40 PM
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originally posted by: ~Lucidity
Sounds like just about every company I've ever worked with of for, and, as a consultant, that's been quite a lot. I used to think there was a difference between publically held and privately held companies, and there sort of is, but each has their own brand and flavor of cut throat, it's still there. If I had to sum it up briefly, I'd say the old adage of form over substance applies pretty well. The snake oil salesman gets more glory that the harder working grunts.


While the pressure-cooker atmosphere at Amazon may be shared with companies you have worked with/for, I'm doubtful they are as detailed in intra-company competition as those listed in the NYT's piece. From what my nephew outlined, it's not for the meek or complacent employee. I imagine quite a few ex-employees might suffer PTSD after leaving.



posted on Aug, 27 2015 @ 05:45 PM
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a reply to: Boscowashisnamo

Oh, maybe. But it's pretty bad out here. Just this week the company I'm consulting for had 15 people out of a team of about 90 just walk out. Gone, Quit. Same company had two threats of blowing managers away in the past two years, and one incident of a hostage situation ending in death at the home of an employee who couldn't stand the pressure. Saddest thing is, there's no need for it. It just seems to be the new "way."



posted on Aug, 27 2015 @ 06:37 PM
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a reply to: Boscowashisnamo

Thanks for posting this, I am curious to read others' thoughts about it.

My 2 cents... I would find it harder to believe there are companies that don't conduct themselves like that. Especially if they are loaded up on debt and have bond-holders to please.

Jeff Bezos is just the 21st-century version of Jack Welch.



posted on Aug, 27 2015 @ 11:20 PM
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Ah, yes, good old esprit de corps. A concept invented to make soldiers love death and violence, and slaves to kiss their whips and chains.

Your nephew is a great, great fool. But then, so are most of us.


edit on 27/8/15 by Astyanax because: of us.



posted on Aug, 27 2015 @ 11:25 PM
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I don't see a problem with it.

I value blunt honesty in my professional career. I get far, far, far too little of it, as the majority of people allow social graces to make them spineless and ineffective at their work.

Im not into "painfully honest". I understand you get more flies with sugar than vinegar. But realistic and honest communication is the hallmark of the kind of business that will thrive, and that will drive your own potential.



posted on Aug, 27 2015 @ 11:48 PM
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originally posted by: Astyanax
Ah, yes, good old esprit de corps. A concept invented to make soldiers love death and violence, and slaves to kiss their whips and chains.

Your nephew is a great, great fool. But then, so are most of us.



Ah, to be young and foolish is a place where many of us have dwelt. I can't fault him for working there for the pay and benis. He's the one that has to operate in the workplace described, and he and his family will endure how that atmosphere effects him personally. Unintended consequences weren't thought of when signing a contract with signing bonus.



posted on Aug, 28 2015 @ 11:12 AM
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Oh, it's lovely to be young and energetic! But what happens to the employees after their burn out (which WILL come to them)? Down the road with what you've got? What happens to them when they are physically used up? Who will employ them then?
It's called used and abused. I know because I have been through that mill. Now my retirement is ruined because I don't have the health or vitality to live a decent retired life.
Ah, when they're young they think they can take on the world and win, but later comes the payback time. I think Mr Bezos's retirement will be quite different from the now Amabots.



posted on Aug, 28 2015 @ 11:38 AM
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a reply to: crayzeed

i just fail to see how a highly driven envrionment where the participants not only volunteer but almost beg to participate can be somehow "bad".

when i work for a company, culture matters to me. I won't work in poisoned cultures where I am not allowed to spread my wings.



posted on Aug, 28 2015 @ 11:58 AM
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Jeff Bezos is the modern-day Adam Smith. Take for example, the former Common Lands that used to be populated by English peasants. Land, which those peasants used to grow food and make their own clothes and tools. In the time of Adam Smith, the 18th century, peasants could labor to make their own shoes out of leather in about one day, BUT people like Adam Smith proposed that these peasants could be coerced into taking factory jobs that would require 3 days of labor to buy commercially produced shoes.

So if you are an "Owner of Capital", how do you get people whom don't need to buy shoes, to start buying shoes?

Its simple, you change the laws, so they can no longer get what they need to make shoes from the land, coercing them to take factory jobs, so as to pay for manufactured shoes.


originally posted by: crayzeed
Oh, it's lovely to be young and energetic! But what happens to the employees after their burn out (which WILL come to them)? Down the road with what you've got? What happens to them when they are physically used up? Who will employ them then?
It's called used and abused. I know because I have been through that mill. Now my retirement is ruined because I don't have the health or vitality to live a decent retired life.
Ah, when they're young they think they can take on the world and win, but later comes the payback time. I think Mr Bezos's retirement will be quite different from the now Amabots.


Both Neo-Fuedalism and Fascism thrives and has found a permanent home in the United States. Unlike other countries, the American education system is so poor that these "highly educated" people cannot recognize that they are indeed Fascists sympathizers. Why? Because the education these persons received, over their lifetime, taught them virtually nothing about what Fascism, Feudalism and the Mercantilist economy really are and therefore these people are HIGHLY susceptible to messages promoting Fascist policies.

The United States is a former “slave owning nation” that fought “tooth and nail” to maintain the legal right to own slaves. Even worse, U.S. business owners turned indentured servants, whom by contract, were set to be released in 7 years, into indefinite slaves through legal loopholes and it was all done with the state, local and federal governments turning a blind-eye to the practice. Yet after all that, the USA still has a form of indentured servitude via H-1B visa program we see today.

So, I ask, AGAIN, can we REALLY expect responsible business leadership and INFORMED opinions about labor relations from a nation that was formed on these values?

No, we cannot and its a COMPLETELY lost cause.

Too many Americans have FULLY bought into an illusion that says “one day, you too, can be a slave owner”. Due to this false belief, sadly, most folks in USA are too far gone and there is no going back for them. This nation is filled with people whom are nothing more than mouthpieces and apologists for Robber Barron’s, who’s contemporary beliefs and actions are similar to the Italian Fascist of 1922-1943. But due to poor education and little experience with international travel, Americans can not see the historical similarities between the USA with the rise and fall of Fascism during the period of 1922-1945. On top of that, Americans have little ability to learn objectively and even less ability to take in new cultural information or understanding alternative perspectives proposed by foreigners. The USA, is not currently, a place of true “life-time learning”, because in the USA that’s just the name of a "tax credit".


originally posted by: Astyanax
Ah, yes, good old esprit de corps. A concept invented to make soldiers love death and violence, and slaves to kiss their whips and chains.

Your nephew is a great, great fool. But then, so are most of us.


I'd argue that people whom both work for and run companies Silicon Valley are likely the most susceptible professional group in America to sympathize with Fascism. Look at the many similarities in how Silicon Valley Companies are run when compared to the German Government of 1933-1945 and in contrast how very little they have in common with American companies run during the period of 1950-1980. Make NO MISTAKE, these young folks in Silicon Valley, whom falsely believe they are "master of the universe" and "in charge of their destiny" are most certainly a “Neo-Brown Shirts” or at the very least prone to becoming one, IF, the RIGHT opportunity arises.

Socialism is only “dead” in America, while on the other hand, Germany, which has a GDP that is 5 times SMALLER than the USA, exports nearly the same amount as the USA, $1.46 trillion versus 1.56 trillion? Yet, somehow that “socialist” country, with unions and work-councils, manages to make just as much money from exports as the USA, despite having to rebuild from scratch, after first owing $33 billion in reparation debt after WWI and then beeing bombed into oblivion again during WWII.

So ask me, who’s economic system is not working?

In the United States there is this crazy paradox that exists, where Fascists roam everywhere, but none “think” they are Fascist.

The sad reality is that people speaking out against Unionization and/or improved labor protections, MUST be RECOGNIZED NOW and IDENTIFIED IMMEDIATELY, as a modern day "Squadristi" (Italian Fascist squads that would participate in strikebreaking, organizing tax strikes in socialist controlled towns and intimidating voters at election time). Make no mistake, these modern-day "Squadrismo" are the enemy to ALL people whom oppose the tenants Fascism, Mercantilism and Feudalism. These people CAN NOT be saved or reasoned with and to do any less than AGGRESSIVELY FIGHTING THEM, puts those whom oppose their kind in grave danger. These kinds of people cannot and should not be given the benefit of the doubt, at this stage, because they are VERY MUCH like those Dutch, whom “traded slaves”, but claimed they also “did not own slaves”.

Large portions of the USA populace cannot and are unwilling to be swayed at this juncture because they prefer “having the legal option to form dynasties” based on inherited wealth and the legally ability to incrementally claim economic power over others, even though NONE of them will EVER acquire enough wealth to take advantage of such legal situations. So, lets stop lying to ourselves, this Fascist mindset spread among the U.S. culture, as a whole, is too deeply embedded in their psyche and is NEVER going away, EVER! Adopting sustainable economics polices and business strategies is, quite simply, impossible for the U.S. culture and its entrenched business climate. Whats even worse, is that the above sentiment doesn’t even begin to address the U.S. populations inability to work together and cooperate to ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING!

The overall FACT is, that the USA is now nothing more than a 2nd world, fascist stronghold. In the U.S. those that disagree with the vocal “pro business majority”, have few choices these days. Sadly, escaping the nation, via emigration, before its too late, is one of the few choices left. The sooner people start admitting it to themselves, the faster they can begin laying financial escape plans, so as to emigrate to REAL 1st world nations, which the USA is not and has not been, since the mid to late 1990’s, at the latest.
edit on 28-8-2015 by boohoo because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 28 2015 @ 12:33 PM
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I say bull#.
I've contacted their customer service numerous times and every single time, I've spoken to a person who was more human than the dregs you get calling any other support hotline. They're funny, helpful, interactive and go out of their way to make sure you are 101% satisfied. With a background in customer-support myself, I can easily tell when someone is reading from a script, trying to get you off the call asap and giving you a load of crap simply because they can. I've never encountered this from Amazon

I'm thinking that the people crying the loudest about the conditions there either got fired or couldn't cut it and are now (along with most of today's US populace) feeling entitled to reap the benefits and accolades of those more successful than them, whilest doing nothing to earn it.



posted on Aug, 28 2015 @ 01:51 PM
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originally posted by: TXRabbit
I say bull#.
I've contacted their customer service numerous times and every single time, I've spoken to a person who was more human than the dregs you get calling any other support hotline. They're funny, helpful, interactive and go out of their way to make sure you are 101% satisfied. With a background in customer-support myself, I can easily tell when someone is reading from a script, trying to get you off the call asap and giving you a load of crap simply because they can. I've never encountered this from Amazon

I'm thinking that the people crying the loudest about the conditions there either got fired or couldn't cut it and are now (along with most of today's US populace) feeling entitled to reap the benefits and accolades of those more successful than them, whilest doing nothing to earn it.


You've just echoed the position of my nephew, as listed above. The ex-employees quoted in the above article that had the most derogatory comments are ones that had been terminated for poor job performance. Aside from anecdotal interactions with Amazon, I can only base my opinion of their workplace policies from sources listed and direct input from a relative.

I imagine the slights vocalized are from those enticed by the monies and benis from working there, and not being able to integrate in a cut throat atmosphere. After reading the comments section from the NYT article, the most vehement detractors are those who believe everyone should get a participation trophy, and are entitled to the aforementioned pay just for showing up for their jobs.



posted on Aug, 28 2015 @ 10:38 PM
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a reply to: boohoo

Er, no. America isn't a Fascist state at all. Your post strikes me as an attempt to justify an exaggerated, extreme political position, using the OP as an example of something it isn't.

Most work culture since the agricultural revolution began has been a kind of semi-voluntary slavery, but wage-slavery is not Fascism. Not by a long stretch.



posted on Aug, 29 2015 @ 12:00 PM
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a reply to: Astyanax

Re-read my post and try to understand what I said, I wasn't exclusively referencing Fascism. Mercantilist, Neo-Feudalist and Fascist policies can all exists, at the same time, within BOTH corporations and government agencies.

Just because Americans CHOOSE to NOT label such policies as "Fascist" doesn't change the reality of what they really are.

It seems my overall point went right over your head, but I am also not the least bit surprised by your response. Your post illustrates that, as I noted above, Americans have little ability to learn objectively and even less ability to take in new cultural information or even generate the desire to understand alternative perspectives proposed by foreigners. Your response further demonstrates what I eluded to above, that within the United States there is a crazy paradox that exists, where Fascists thinker roam everywhere, but none “think” they are actually a Fascist.

The USA, AS A WHOLE, has more qualities aligning with Mercantilism, Neo-Feudalism and Fascism, than it does socialism or social democracy, as practiced in Europe. If you had any international business experience, you would know that the USA has far more in common with countries like China or India, when it comes to business practices, as opposed to say countries like Germany or Switzerland. Hence, my statement, that the USA is now nothing more than a 2nd world country today.

Germans don’t think America stands for freedom anymore

Germans dislike American corporations
edit on 29-8-2015 by boohoo because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 29 2015 @ 11:02 PM
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a reply to: boohoo


Re-read my post and try to understand what I said

Why should I? It's your responsibility to make your meaning clear, not mine to sift your hyperbole for grains of sense.


Mercantilist, Neo-Feudalist and Fascist policies can all exists, at the same time

Evidently you do not understand the meaning of these words. By the way, there is no such thing as neo-feudalism.


It seems my overall point went right over your head

More like 'limped past my ankle and fell into the ditch.'


Your post illustrates that, as I noted above, Americans have little ability to learn objectively and even less ability to take in new cultural information or even generate the desire to understand alternative perspectives proposed by foreigners.

That's odd, since I am South Asian by birth and residence, and have neither lived in America or visited there.


Hence, my statement, that the USA is now nothing more than a 2nd world country today.

This statement confirms your utter ignorance of political science -- which, for your information, is the name of the field we are discussing. 'Second World' doesn't mean 'second class'. It means the former Communist bloc. And it's outmoded terminology anyway.

Next time, pontificate about something you really understand.



posted on Aug, 29 2015 @ 11:27 PM
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a reply to: Boscowashisnamo

Don't see a problem with this . As long as they are upfront about the environment. Cool. Might have jumped at something starting out. Now I look for more life/work balance. I am very up front as well these days before salary and benefits negotiation I let them know up front that health and family come first and if an issue no reason to continue. As long as everyone is upfront. Cool



posted on Aug, 30 2015 @ 01:34 AM
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a reply to: Boscowashisnamo

I'm glad your nephew can handle it! Remember - Amazon didn't get to where they are by putting up with BS and slackers.

I sell a lot of products and gifts from amazon on WowfulGifts.com... I always get excellent feedback regarding their delivery and products. I have nothing but positive things to say about amazon and their employee's!

I hope your nephews marriage and family doesn't suffer as a result of his hard work. I'm sure his hard work will be worth it in the long run.



posted on Aug, 30 2015 @ 12:13 PM
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originally posted by: Astyanax
a reply to: boohoo


Mercantilist, Neo-Feudalist and Fascist policies can all exists, at the same time

Evidently you do not understand the meaning of these words. By the way, there is no such thing as neo-feudalism.


Hence, my statement, that the USA is now nothing more than a 2nd world country today.

This statement confirms your utter ignorance of political science -- which, for your information, is the name of the field we are discussing. 'Second World' doesn't mean 'second class'. It means the former Communist bloc. And it's outmoded terminology anyway.


No, it is YOUR definitions that are "out of date". Contemporary economist Parag Khanna, has redefined what "Second World" means in the current global economy and the term "2nd World" IS NOT limited to former Soviet Bloc Countries any longer. EVERYTHING I have outlined above is addressed in Khanna's, body of works.

BTW, "Neo-Feudalism" IS NOT a new concept, and is indeed a REAL political practice. The concept was discussed by academics as early as 1977, with Eric Hobsbawm being one of the more notable contributors. It also wouldn't hurt for you to read works by John Gascoigne, that define Neo-Mercantilism, as well.

Perhaps you should take some time to UPDATE your knowledge on the subject being discussed here, before making uniformed, offhand comments.

Not to be elitist or smug, but your responses have most certainly dated the content of whatever academic qualifications you may have. Also, you may have been born and raised in Southeast Asia, but based on your past ATS posts, I don't believe for ONE MINUTE that you have not lived in the United States for any length of time or do not currently live here and have assimilated into the current Fascist culture.
edit on 30-8-2015 by boohoo because: (no reason given)




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