Work Culture At Amazon - CiteHR
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Jeff bezos has started an open debate over the culture. Strategies to build a great work place had clearly failed as published on The New York times earlier. As reported , Amazon is the most toxic work place.
What should be Jeff's strategy to turn the situation around ? Would transparency in such a large organization will remain an hogwash?
Will a hike in compensation be able to revive the situation ? What do you think will work?
This is the article sharing Jeff opening a debate with the employees on the work culture.
Jeff Bezos and Amazon Employees Join Debate Over Its Culture

Here's a new update on the same story , HR working 100 hours a week to resolve the issue Bezos assurance
@(Cite Contribution) - My point of view is :

It's not just limited to Jeff Bezos but applies to all of us.

Jeff Bezos has not just a vision but also the passion and passion may equate to bad work ethics. For example, If I tend to be overtly passionate and stay late at work, I usually benchmark other employees that stay late at work as 'producers / contributors' and I apply what I deem 'successful' to other employees. This leads to an untenable situation where people on my team begin to stay late at work, despite not having anything to contribute, just to bag the praise and the smart ones begin to exit and look for roles with saner lifestyles.

And the ones who stay back with me? They begin to contribute to the problem (defined as the Amazon way in Jeff Bezos's case) and ultimately boils down to me being labeled a 'Jeff Bezos' wannabe.

All I need is to be sensitized to what makes employees productive and it's high time we begin to realize a happy customer is because of happier employees (Remember HCL's 'Employee First, Customer Second' initiative)

Whether all that was stated in the article is true is a matter for conjecture. Bezos denies it, but knowing the sort of work culture that now exists in the United States, I suspect much of it is true.

I don't know about India, other than what I read here on CiteHR - and as many of you have noted from my postings, some of what I read about work culture there, frankly horrifies me.

In the western world at least, the world of work has changed a lot. The standard 8 hour day, seems to have gone out the window. People are working longer, becoming more stressed, have no holidays, end up in the divorce court, and finally in the cardiac unit of the local hospital. Is that what we want for our future?

It seems to me that "bosses" can spend any amount of time out on the golf course, or cruising in their yachts, free from the cares of the world, while their employees must keep their mobile phones on at all times of day and night, and woe betide anyone who does not reply to an email or text at 3.30am in the morning.

If your business needs to run 24/7, then you staff appropriately, with 3 8-hour shifts to cover the day. Staff function much better when they are rested, refreshed, and alert. Such staff will be happy to come to work, will devote their energies to work, be creative when it comes to problem solving etc, and above all will contribute greatly to the bottom line.

Of course there will be workaholics and others who embrace this workstyle. Maybe they have a bad homelife they want to escape from, ie the wife and kids, or are lonely, or just have no life full stop. The graveyards are full of those sort of people.

You have to decide what sort of life you want. I am now retired thank goodness, but I would never work like that anyway. When I was at work, I worked my standard day, AND I completed all my work within that day. I rarely ever worked a minute past my my elected finishing time. However, if necessary, I was willing to stay back if we had an important project to complete, and we were almost there.

The secret of course is finding more efficient ways to work. Something that was lost of many of my colleagues who were in the office already when I arrived, and were still there when I went home! Another thing was the way many of them fought me tooth and nail when I wanted to introduce new more efficient procedures. I could never work out why!

While working for Larsen & Toubro, in its of business units based out of Bangalore, as Head of HR, I used to leave just 30 minutes after working hours. Sometimes, our Business Head will start a meeting quite late in the evening, so I used to stay back. Only during Performance Review, Annual Reward time, there will be meetings in the office on Saturdays and Sundays, as conveniently convened by Business Head and Department Heads (as they used to feel that only on Saturdays and Sundays they can focus more on employees !!! lol ) . I used to be available at home but I never used to take calls after 9 pm and before 6 am...
It is important to know the pulse of your team on regular basis. Periodical one to ones and open forum meetings will help to understand the undercurrents and give the management a clue to work towards effective work life balance.
I've never met anyone working in a corporate environment who said there was perfect work life balance. Most are under tremendous stress and the competition in the market is so severe that people expecting "work life" balance are mostly, according to them, seen as slackers and non-performers. Many of them in their 30's have already developed severe health conditions - its really a strange new world.

In my opinion the issue is a mix of the physical and psychological stress. And a lot of it is probably related to how the bosses are trained to handle their team.

Ownership: Its very common in the entrepreneurial world to see people hacking away for 16 hours a day on their own projects. Rarely do they complaint that they do not enjoy it. They want to do it, they have to to fix the issue at hand to feel complete again. The can take the stress because they are working on something they "want" to solve. It's important for bosses to align their team and figure out the likes and dislikes of the employees and fit them into the right slots. Round pegs in square slots will always leave gaps in the processes. Identifying who is aligned to what is very key in reducing stress.

Sure, there are going to be things that no one wants to do - the importance or reasons for doing such things should be reiterated by the bosses and perhaps put on rotation. Technology today can easily help people pick up work from where someone else left it.

Recuperation: Every high stress event or hours require recuperation time. The important thing here is the acknowledgement from the bosses that their team member "needs rest", even if for a couple of hours within working hours. Most probably they always generally slack around after episodes of stressful hours - but If the employees are constantly worried that they need to be seen busy - it would add a lot to their psychological stress. Bosses need to publicly make statements of people being off for some time, both verbal and non-verbal acknowledgements would help people calm down and take a couple of hours. I bet if people are made to feel that their bosses acknowledge and understand the importance of taking breaks and then pushing forward harder - they will be more likely to be both productive and involved.

Work Life Mix: Its not about "work life balance" its about "work life mix". Rarely are all family events perfectly aligned with working hours, so if a company wants to really create a "work life mix" they need to plan and measure these aspects.

In fact the "life" factor should be an important aspect of performance appraisal. So taking a 3 hour break inside working hours to meet with friends for lunch should be a positive. We are all often up late to watch a movie or at dinner with friends - there is no reason those work hours cannot be "worked in" later in the day or at a later date. Flexibility and measurement can all be part of things that make employees feel more at ease at work and even be more enthusiastic about those "massive charges on the battle field", when such times are at hand.



I guess the phrase "work life mix" by Sid/CHR is appearing for the first time least I haven't heard of it as often as the phrase 'work life balance'.

But surely sums-up the concept of having it & eating it too....i.e., IF one wants to remain sane & healthy in the mid-career stage.

However, looking @ the technology we have today--smartphones, WhatsApp, etc [Thank goodness....they weren't there when I used to work for someone else] the tendency to be on the run & available is getting to be more as an expectation than a convenience.

I recollect days when a boss in the last Company I worked used to look into his watch when I used to leave office @ 6.00/6.30 PM.....with a 'what-going soon today?' look on his face--and that too when my regular leaving hours was invariably AFTER sunset any day. No wonder I changed my Dept @ the First chance I got.

The number of hours worked EVEN TODAY decide whether you work hard or not......not the quality of work.

Your suggestion of mid-day naps or breaks does indeed work-out....there are many studies that support the efficacy of this.....but how many Companies actually practice this? I definitely find it very refreshing & effective for the later day's work.

I recently read about a top-notch Wall Street guy who's into playing the markets...BUT just in his 20s.......committing suicide due to the pressure. The irony in his case was that even oldtimer market watchers used to give his predictions on Buys/Sells a lot of weight & none knew he was in such a state until his death. Though this could be an extreme example, I don't think many in such situations are really far from this state of affairs. The fact about the health of 20s/30s in most countries says a lot about this aspect.

But I guess, like others have mentioned, any correction has to START FROM THE TOP. Else, it will all be lip-service & will be forgotten until some such study/case again comes to the fore.

Despite whatever Bezos says, he does have company all over the globe.



Closely related to the news item about work culture at Amazon,this news article shows a churn, unprecedented in recent times, is now shaking up HR circles across India Inc. Since May, at least 17 HR heads have changed loyalties — with movements happening across companies from old economy to new-age ones .
In my view it could be due to unrelenting pressure to adapt to rapid changes in business sceanrio.
This link shows the challenges;India Inc in a fix as HR heads shift loyalties from established companies to new ones - The Economic Times

Can we push for an ordnance on maximum working hours by any person in an establishment. It should be possible.

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