Last August, Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld wrote an incredibly enlightening article about the work culture of Amazon, and how it’s culture of hyper-competitiveness has left many of their employees drug dependent, sleep-deprived, and away from their families. Amazon is built around a culture of constant innovation, which requires incredible amounts of time and dedication. Instead of incentivizing this amount of productivity with bonuses and gifts, Amazon holds the threat of being replaced over each employee’s head. The work environment demands 80 hour weeks, with no time for breaks for such things like maternity leave or medical emergencies. If an employee begins to slip up because they have the audacity to take care of their dying father, fellow employees will throw them under the bus and that brave employee will be fired (seriously, that actually happened). And they can do that because they’re Amazon, the world’s biggest retailer, and who wouldn’t want to work for the world’s most innovative company?
If this is a trend in other tech companies, no wonder tech professional morale is so low. A recent poll from TinyPulse stated that only 19% of tech pros are highly satisfied with their work, and only 17% feel strongly valued at work. Is this due to the Amazonation of the tech world, or are there other underlying problems. To get to the bottom of this, I decided to ask Chris Ake, app developer and co-founder of Grand Apps, about the tech industry and how it can improve its own morale.
“There’s so many different branches…it’s like a high school. What it leads on is management and how are they influencing their coworkers and how they collaborate. Are they doing teambuilding exercises? Those little things work…I personally like to talk to everybody…If we don’t address something, you’re just going be sitting there, getting mad, and everything will snowball.”
A company is only as good as its workforce, and while Amazon may be sitting pretty now, how long will it take before their best and brightest go to a place like Google or Microsoft? You know, places that actually treat their employees like people.