The case study describes the situation that Amazon was forced to face head-on when news broke in 2015 in a NY Times article criticizing Amazon as an employer on the harsh ways the company treated its employees. Amidst the public backlash regarding Amazon's treatment of employees, how should Amazon move forward with the situation?
Jyotsna Bhatnagar and Shweta Jaiswal
Harvard Business Review (W16106-PDF-ENG)
March 07, 2016
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Amidst the public backlash regarding Amazon’s treatment of employees, how should Amazon move forward with the situation?
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Amazon as an Employer Case Answers
The Situation – Amazon as an Employer
The case study describes the situation that Amazon was forced to face head-on when news broke in 2015 in a NY Times article criticizing Amazon as an employer on the harsh ways the company treated its employees.
Amazon uses a business-oriented people management strategy. This strategy keeps the employees on their toes. The organization has cultivated a culture in which employees are always vigilant and criticize each other’s opinions and ideas. Further, the employees must work overtime due to the high workload and respond to work-related emails even during their personal time.
The company’s brutal workplace policies resulted in a high turnover rate for the company. However, these policies appear to have propelled the company from being debt-stricken to being among those on the Fortune 500’s Most Admired Companies.
The company’s strategy had facilitated tremendous growth, such that it was ready to open several new and diverse locations. To this end, the company needed close to 50,000 employees. However, its corporate culture was an obstacle, as it could prevent potential applicants from seeking opportunities in the company. Nonetheless, the organization was reputed to have a fast-paced and challenging work environment that sparked innovation among the employees.
Most of the workforce was comprised of recent graduates kick-starting their careers, and they felt that the company provided an ideal environment for growth. However, Amazon’s corporate culture made other companies reluctant to hire ex-employees, as they were workaholics and highly critical of others’ work.
Amazon had a rigorous talent acquisition process that discouraged employees from leaving too early once they began working. Additionally, the practice of eliminating underperformers resulted in the employees constantly sabotaging each other.
Female employees did not occupy management positions because of brutal company policies that discouraged them from raising families. Older male employees also feared for their jobs as they could be replaced with younger men with no commitments.
While Amazon’s people management strategy allowed it to enhance its performance and productivity, it resulted in a high turnover rate and is a threat to its sustainability” (Tait, 2021).
MET Index. “The MET (management, empowerment, teamwork) index is used as a means of exploring the way in which a particular organization addresses each of these three distinct areas within the context of their operations (IBM, 2020).
The index indicates that it is the management of employees, via the behaviors and actions of those in leadership, which leads to empowerment on the part of employees, and greater empowerment, through a sense of belonging and purpose, leads to increased teamwork in the form of improved performance and greater levels of retention (IBM, 2020)” (Tait, 2021).
When exploring these components within the context of the case study, firstly management, it is evident that there are internal issues within the company, particularly concerning its work culture – Or are there? Under the company’s performance management, employees are essentially encouraged to criticize and put down their coworkers and even friends. Even withstanding this unconventional culture, the results that the company has produced are astonishing.
Top leadership within the organization did not have any female employees at all. The system of competition that was set in place in the office can be largely to thank for that because of women’s perceived difficulties in “disagreeing” with colleagues (Bhatnagar & Jaiswal., 2016). Additionally, the 2013 top innovator and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, was forced to face the public’s opinions of Amazon’s culture formed by the NY times article.
Bezos’ style of leadership was aggressive in many areas. He created and established the work environment depicted throughout the case study and is mainly responsible for both the success of the business as well as the scrutiny in regard to the company’s work culture and treatment of employees.
Rather than denying the news about Amazon’s work culture, he takes a unique approach in…
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