Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace. Amazon Only Perfected What American Work Culture Created.

The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions. To be the best Amazonians they can be, they should be guided by the leadership principles, 14 rules inscribed on handy laminated cards.
Workers kill themselves trying to please a corporation that, at the end of the day, doesn’t care much about them. At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and are held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” When you’re not able to give your absolute all, 80 hours a week, they see it as a major weakness.
The company’s winners dream up innovations while the losers leave or are fired in annual cullings of the staff. Amazon regularly culls its lower performers through a brutal review process — of the sort made popular at General Electric in the 1990s — where workers are ranked and yanked. It’s an exercise that pits workers against each other: You need your colleague to perform badly, or you could lose your job and high rating. The company, rejects many of the popular management bromides that other corporations at least pay lip service to and has instead designed what many workers call an intricate machine propelling them to achieve ever-expanding ambitions. Compensation is considered competitive — successful midlevel managers can collect the equivalent of an extra salary from grants of a stock that has increased more than tenfold since 2008.
Amazon is where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves.” The median employee tenure at one year, among the briefest in the Fortune 500. Amazon officials insisted tenure was low because hiring was so robust, adding that only 15 percent of employees had been at the company more than five years. Turnover is consistent with others in the technology industry, they said, but declined to disclose any data.
Life inside its corporate offices is largely a mystery. Secrecy is required; even low-level employees sign a lengthy confidentiality agreement. In interviews, some said they thrived at Amazon precisely because it pushed them past what they thought were their limits. Many employees are motivated by “thinking big and knowing that we haven’t scratched the surface on what’s out there to invent.
The company has a terrible track record of mistreating its low-paid warehouse workforce. In an article this week, when workers in an eastern Pennsylvania warehouse toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away laborers as they fell. Workers said Amazon has installed cooling units and fans since the inspection, but the equipment doesn’t keep upper warehouse levels cool on hot summer days.
Thanks in part to its ability to extract the most from employees, Amazon is stronger than ever. Last month, it eclipsed Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the country. But, Google, Apple and Amazon are all named in the top five places new business school graduates want to work with Amazon being number 5.

briservInside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace. Amazon Only Perfected What American Work Culture Created.