Amazon’s Internal Culture

The following is written by Dave Murray, Senior Customer Experience Consultant for The DiJulius Group

I was as surprised as anyone when I first heard about the New York Times article reporting issues regarding Amazon’s internal culture. After all, the great service providers I have dealt with seem to be full of people that love their jobs and their companies. How could Amazon build this great service organization if the internal culture were driven by fear as opposed to growth and fulfillment?

Then it dawned on me, Amazon has built its service reputation on low price and speedy delivery – not building relationships and focusing on interactions (other than from a technology standpoint!)

The crux of the article (“Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld) focuses on Amazon’s use of data and psychological tools to create what has been called a “continuous performance improvement algorithm” on its staff. Former and current employees recount seeing fellow employees cry regularly, illnesses such as ulcers as a result of stress, and employees being encouraged to forego family time for projects.

Now, we are able to take a step back and look for more lessons from what we have already learned. Many an HR expert has been interviewed since the New York Times article first appeared on August 15th, and one particular article published by caught my eye. (What Managers can learn from the Amazon debacle,” by Justine Hofherr). In the article, HR experts refute some of Amazon’s practices, stating instead that balanced feedback, frequent meetings and kindness mixed in with competition are best for maintaining a healthy workplace.

No one can argue the astounding level of retail success Amazon has achieved. The question becomes, can it maintain this level of success and continue to grow while withstanding the levels of employee stress and turnover that were reported? The majority of employee engagement and internal culture experts say, no. They say that true work/life balance and employee satisfaction are needed to sustain success and growth of an organization. Should Amazon soften its culture from here, or stay the course with what has worked this well so far? What do you think? Share your thoughts with me on our blog at:

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About The Author

Dave Murray

Dave is the Senior Customer Experience Consultant for The DiJulius Group and has helped dozens of companies create incredible systems that allow them to consistently deliver superior customer service. Dave’s experience has varied from leading call centers and front-line team members, to working closely with key partners and stakeholders.