Amazon may be the world's largest online retailer, keen to recruit the cream of the planet's talent. But by several accounts recently posted online, actually working there sounds like a bit of a nightmare.
Gawker.com are currently running 'Amazon week', part of which involves collating employee testimonies that paint a less than positive view of the organisation.
And they make for undeniably grotesque reading - as long as you don't work somewhere even worse...
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One disgruntled worker described clocking in and out practices that sound like they've been entirely lifted from Catch-22:
My location is pretty much the same as all the others. Our two fifteen minute breaks include our travel time, so I've had breaks that barely last five minutes.
When we clock out, we have to be clocked out for a full 30 minutes. If we try to clock in even one minute early, the time clock will display an error message telling us how many minutes we have remaining on our lunch break.
This results in workers having to adopt tactics to overcome the strict rules on clocking out just to get a reasonable break, as they have to report to a "standup meeting" four minutes before their break ends:
The way pickers at my location have gotten around that, to allow for longer break times and prevent going over on lunch, is to grab the last item they intend to scan, about three minutes before the start of break, get as close as possible to the front of the floor they're working on, then scan it exactly one minute before break starts. This gives a little extra time to put away the pick cart and make it down to the break area, without management tracking you down and asking why you stopped picking three minutes before break
In order to get an overall picture, there are also accounts from those working in the corporate side of the business...
During orientation it's encouraged that you not spend more than 2 years in the same team. seemed like an odd statement at the time but I believe its to save your ass. The company is really good about having its staff explain to management why they should still be there.
You literally must re-interview for your position, while in that position, constantly. It comes up at least every three months.
And you keep getting those reminders that people outside want your job! Pretty stressful work environment. Most people aren't really that happy. Employee morale is for those new employees still thrilled to death to be there.
Is if those aren't bad enough, a separate investigation by the Guardian found many workers are on seasonal contracts and are so poor they are often homeless, surviving on an inconsistent wage of around £10 an hour...
"I don't mention that I live in a shelter. That way they don't discriminate against me, figuring that I won;t work. And I am a good worker, not to toot my own horn. I just don't want to take the chance of them saying, 'Oh, he lives in a shelter? No."
This is a competitive culture and unlike companies with huge funding reserves or incredibly high margin business models, Amazon is at heart a retail company where margins are slim by the nature of our business. On account of that we need to work hard: people who can't compete are weeded out the same way they are in any other highly competitive company.
Follow the links to read more and make up your own mind...