Amazon.com

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Amazon.com Reviews

Updated Jul 24, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.3 3,266 reviews

85% Approve of the CEO

Amazon.com Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos

(2,279 ratings)

64% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • You will learn a lot while working at Amazon that will be useful for the rest of your career(in 98 reviews)

  • Density of talent: Some really smart people spoiling their careers here(in 302 reviews)


Cons
  • Company is not at all sorry to screw people's work-life balance for itself to excel(in 535 reviews)

  • There is literally no work life balance inside this company(in 123 reviews)

3,266 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
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    • Approves of CEO

     

    I have enjoyed my time with Amazon.

    Facilities Area Manager (Current Employee) Lexington-Fayette, KY (US)

    ProsWorking with leaders from all over the world.

    ConsExpectations are very high, and the work life balance can get out of hand.

    Advice to Senior ManagementHold all managers accountable for their work practices. Not just the low level area managers.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    I love this company!

    Process Assistant (Current Employee) Plainfield, IN (US)

    ProsPay, Company values, benefits, associates get a lot of time off, customer centricity

    ConsDifficult to move up, Tough work-life balance, older warehouses work with equipment that has a tendency to fail and fixed with "band-aids."

    Advice to Senior ManagementStart looking to hire from within more than hiring college students without leadership experience.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    3 people found this helpful  

    Never again!

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Seattle, WA (US)

    Pros*Given the diverse nature of the business, there are ample opportunities to learn something new everyday.

    Cons*No work-life balance
    *Serious politics & high egos.
    *Most employees overworked. My manager had a stash of 5 hour energy which kept him running. Seriously, i don't want to be him!
    *Micro management & increasing pressure.
    *No clear direction. Everything changes overnight.
    *Very customer centric but not employee centric. Every week our team would consider how to reduce cost. And most of the time the cuts would impact employees adversely

    Advice to Senior ManagementRemove the political leaders and place more emphasis on employees

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Culture & Values
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    5 people found this helpful  

    Stretch, learn, work, work and work

    Senior Manager (Current Employee) Seattle, WA (US)

    ProsOpportunities abound. Innovative new work being done all day every day. Rapid growth company. Environment that encourages creativity. Autonomy is granted if you know your stuff. Dogs allowed in the office. Casual dress environment. Learned more about business and process efficiency in 4 years at Amazon than I did in 10 years in my prior jobs.

    ConsChronically understaffed. No work life balance and HR Is not seeking to implement it. Churn and burn environment. Arrogant attitude of SVPs with little or no value of employee and employee contributions - i.e. "you're lucky to work here" . Compensation structure is heavily equity based, such that at best salaries are at mid of market requiring sales of shares to meet competitive market salary--leadership principle of "ownership" is a farce. Stock compensation is heavily taxed resulting in a lower overall total compensation package. Benefits are beyond skimpy. Tools, and systems for non-customer facing infrastructure work are fragile and require much manual work to prevent failures.

    Advice to Senior ManagementValues and leadership principles are good. Improve benefits, change compensation structure to more appropriately compensate top talent that work hard to contribute to the company's success.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

     

    Nimble, smart and easily the best work culture

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsGreat company. Smart people. Total independence. Agile and nimble development life cycles. great compensation

    Consnone so far. not for people who can not move fast !

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    • Approves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    I love working for Amazon

    Software Development Manager (Current Employee) Seattle, WA (US)

    Pros* Bottom-up culture. As a manager, I have full autonomy to get things done and drive my short and long term vision, hire fantastic people, and take large risks

    Cons* No Paternity leave
    * Healthcare benefits have much higher premiums and deductibles each year
    * Stock grant policy can limit options at times

    Advice to Senior ManagementMeetings can be too serious--make it fun!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Disapproves of CEO

    25 people found this helpful  

    Recipe for Burnout

    Senior Business Manager (Current Employee) Seattle, WA (US)

    Pros- Many smart people who are good to work with
    - Opportunity to work on interesting projects, at scale

    ConsMy review is about what it's like to be a business contributor at Amazon. This could be a marketing manager, category leader, product manager, project manager, etc. I will begin with the assumption that great business contributors want to do two things: 'Produce New Ideas' (better ways of doing things, new initiatives), and 'Drive Change'. Now I'll explain why Amazon's environment is essentially hostile to both. The consequence for many business contributors is burnout.

    "High Standards" has devolved into Endless Fault-Finding
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    Amazon suffers from a somewhat unique culture of "high standards". Never have I seen a supposed corporate value become so abused. There is precious little innovation in Amazon retail over the last 5 years and much of this owes to the endless nitpicking masquerading as "high standards". Amongst executives especially, there is a competition as to who has the highest IQ. This is demonstrated by who has the most effective takedown of a proposed idea, which is usually distributed in the form of a document read during meetings. In this warped culture, an executive would expose himself as a "naif" by praising a proposed idea. Instead, "clarifying questions' and critiques rule. A Simon Cowell impersonation contest ensues. What does this mean for new ideas? It means that to merely suggest a better way of doing things means to be attacked - "Why didn't you propose this earlier? You've been working here for X years already", "Why isn't the team already doing this?", "You could do A, B, C, D differently; your analysis on ___ is sloppy and incomplete".

    ….Or their favorite- "Get MORE data". Executives don't understand how convoluted the process is of getting accurate data at Amazon because they always have someone to fetch it for them. Amazon not only does not use 3rd party analytics packages, they don't even have an effective proprietary system for dashboarding data or pulling metrics. Most of the requests are done by hand through SQL across a myriad of poorly documented tables in which the data fields are not well understood. Trying to understand what different fields means, requires you to file a ticket - which is sometimes never responded to. Once you prepare the data set, any minor variance in the data is justification, according to executives, that "you don't understand the underlying dynamics of what you're proposing". "High Standards" has become a tour de force of fault-finding and needless perfectionism that totally deters new idea development at Amazon. Why suggest a new idea or better way of doing things? You know you are signing yourself up for data pull after data pull, document after document, harangued at meeting after meeting. After the initiative is actually implemented, you will never be thanked for the contribution the initiative makes. Instead, other stakeholders will find fault with it, and complain to your manager, who will be all too receptive and that they "have been concerned about these same issues for some time". Sadly, this gives a glimpse as to why many business managers at Amazon end up doing bare minimum because being a change agent is filled with pitfalls and very few positives.

    Executives do not Engage Business Mangers in Ways that are Productive
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    Although mileage may vary on different teams, I believe, in general, Amazon values executives and engineers. Executives mistakenly assume they have all the judgment thats required, and all underling business managers are good for is supplying them with data so they can apply their "brilliant minds". Of course, they lack context for all the categories and channels that these decisions require, but that doesn't bother them. They respect engineers because engineers have a kind of knowledge they know they don't; and engineers can always retreat into arcane aspects of tech that are impenetrable to executives. I have never seen a company where executives so totally engage their subordinates at the wrong level. What I mean by this is executives are told to "dive deep" and understand the details- an impossible task when they manage dozens or hundreds of people. So what ends up happening is they attempt to micro-manage teams in areas of the business they simply DO NOT have command over. What they do NOT do, unfortunately, is take the time to ask questions of their various business manager to better understand the business, or engage at a high level and try to ascertain if there are significant business opportunities we are not addressing. That might add some value, but they don't do that. Instead, absent context, they launch into highly opinionated monologues on what we should be doing; or play "gotcha" with minor errors they spot in the document. You will quickly find out these are not mutual conversations but rather 1-way statements. The other favorite thing to do during business reviews is to not discuss the business, but discuss the layout, formatting, and descriptions in the document itself -- as though that is best use of people's time. Amazon executives enjoy raising their voice at subordinates and are the worst at listening I have ever seen at a major company. Listening is apparently not a valued skill. What transpires is Micro-Management without context. It is a pointless kind of engagement that adds no value. Worse, it squanders entirely the domain expertise of business experts that Amazon has brought on board. There could potentially be excellent synergy between the domain knowledge business contributors have and strategic mindset that executives have -- but that won't happen the way current interactions take place at Amazon. Managers are often indifferent towards major issues confronting the business but lash out in anger at seemingly minor details; a haphazard form of review that leave subordinates unable to understand exactly the priorities of the business.

    Politics and Consequences
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    Business contributors burnout at a blistering place at Amazon. In my group alone, almost HALF of the business headcount have left the team in ONE year. At the same time, most of the engineers and executives have remained. Business managers often don't have the tools to their job; with inadequate analytics and few methods to improve an ailing part of the business. One of the more unfortunate aspects, which further deters action, is that Amazon can be very political. Most teams are "2 pizza teams" - meaning they are self-sufficient. You can easily spend 90% of your time with your own team. But this means that other teams become RELUCTANT to collaborate. They have their own priorities and often don't need you for anything. Let's say you have a Project X which had a dependency that another team owns. When you approach them to make modifications to aid your department, they may well resent this attempted shift in priorities. Now the very manager who told you to deal with a dependency that another team manages, who pushed you to get this other team to change, also is the one who finds fault with you when the other team objects that your intervention is not appreciated. The manager will tell you to orchestrate change WITHOUT anyone balking; which I suppose is easy enough for a manger who himself does not orchestrate change, but largely reviews documents. Given that much has been written about Amazon's "gladiator culture", it is silly to think rank and file can go out into the environment and make change happen without ruffling a few feathers. Without adequate support of subordinates, employees will simply stop attempting to drive change with other teams. And many have. When I first joined Amazon, I was surprised how many business contributors avoided the inter-department negotiations necessary to move things along; now it's all too clear (note sometimes this push-back will come from one's own team- and management will be indifferent to the hostile team dynamics). Management has created a no-win situation for that kind of activity. One reason for this disconnect-- Managers themselves often focus on 'strategic initiatives' which have S-team buy-in so different teams have already prioritized that work. Managers who work on these initiatives experience harmony across teams, but can't seem to understand that other initiatives (which are not prioritized by the consumer leadership team company-wide) don't have the built-in support. So when they see there is tension, this contrasts with the smooth cross-team relations they are used to seeing. It's a kind of myopia that hampers cross-team collaboration, the kind that really requires teams to collaborate when it's not dictated from above.

    Accomplishments are Lost in the Noise
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    The emphasis on fault finding at Amazon culturally prevents the opposite at Amazon - to celebrate an individual or even a team's job well done. The consequence however is that there is little difference between a business manager who treads water versus one who swims a 100M record. Provided a business manger works effectively on a few projects that are deemed important by senior management, that is sufficient. The lack of recognition by management and executives for standout work has become the undoing of morale at the company for business contributors. This may be stereotypical, but engineers can often subsist on challenging work and peer recognition by other engineers. When business contributors go above and beyond, if their accomplishments are simply seen as another bullet point on a document or a brief mention at an annual review, there simply isn't enough incentive. You will always have some % of contributors who will plough forward regardless, but even for them it's a matter of time before the lack of recognition will have them seeking greener pastures.

    The reviews saying Amazon is cheap with its employees are true. But they suggest Amazon withholds perks from employees which cost money such as snacks, or events, or bonuses. In truth, I feel like this matters, but not nearly as much as the fact that Amazon is stingy with things that don't cost money -- like recognition and support (support might be your manager vouching for your work rather than undercutting it at every opportunity when criticism is received from other teams or executives). Instead, Amazon goes to great lengths to diminish people's accomplishments, ignoring their successes, attempting to diffuse individual achievements across a team so as to prevent individuals from receiving credit (and critique the individual as "selfish" if they try to claim a hand in that success).

    What would Valuing your Employees more Mean?
    --

    Amazon's position in the market has allowed it to develop a sub-optimal culture; one that henpecks people for suggesting better ways of doing things, which goads him or her to "prove it" using inadequate tools, endlessly faults them, and then ultimately is indifferent towards the resulting improvement. It has management that, all too often, is unaccountable - that does not participate in collaborative exchanges with its team, but rather reads documents and directs "feedback". Management is largely indifferent to team progress that doesn't align with S-team goals, but much of the company's success owes to progress in these other areas.

    I don't think the answer is "free beer" or company lunches. It may one day dawn on Amazon leadership that finding ways to SUPPORT promising ideas and efforts are just as important as critiquing them. That it's management's job to ensure employees have what they need to do the job: that means adequate analytics and tools, assistance in gaining cooperation of other teams, ensuring effective dynamics on the team itself, ensuring quality processes and removing obstacles… even something trivial like making sure that is actually possible to book a meeting room without 5 days notice. That management has value to add to the team, and there is more to do than disappear and work on 'strategic' initiatives. Ultimately, I think valuing employees means respecting that business managers are domain experts and it is their expertise that you are hiring them for; their knowledge and judgment, that the value of that team comes from matching executive strategic insight with it. That requires management & executives to be humble enough to ask questions and have collaborative exchanges and God forbid, ask what a business manager's judgment is on a particular issue when there are different options available. To recognize that business contributors are there for more than simply providing details or fetching data. Great workers may want compensation, but I think they want recognition of their contribution and their abilities more than anything. Providing that costs nothing; only a shift in mindset.

    Absent any change, Amazon's environment is a recipe for burnout for business contributors. The company will keep hemorrhaging quality people, having them leave not long after they've begun to master the learning curve in the organization, replacing them with new people who will follow the same cycle- preventing the company from benefitting from its mid-level personnel. More work for recruiters I'm sure. Lack of executive concern towards attrition of business contributors will have a cost- one they may find out too late. The tragedy is the situation is reversible - but indifference, owing largely to Amazon's dominant position in the marketplace, will likely prevent it.

    Advice to Senior ManagementSee above

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Amazon culture

    SDEII (Current Employee) Beijing, Beijing (China)

    ProsGood business future, good infrastrcture for developer.

    Consbureaucracy from managers and bad habit to evaluate what's a good engineer

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Unappreciated, Overworked

    Datacenter Technician (Former Employee) Singapore (Singapore)

    Pros- Great place to learn new technologies.
    - Team was close, and banded together against unrealistic expectations
    - Generous starting pay package

    Cons- Zero professional growth.
    - Expected to always take on more roles and responsibilities, but without a pay increase.
    - Bar raiser promotion system is a joke ( why would anyone work for you if they are better than 75% of the people there?)

    Advice to Senior Management- Show more concern to your employees, treat them more like people than robots.
    - The brand name doesn't mean a thing when it's a horrible place to work.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • No Opinion of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Finance is an afterthought

    Financial Analyst (Current Employee) Chattanooga, TN (US)

    ProsSmart people; Solid pay when factoring in restricted stock units

    ConsIronically, information systems are bolted together with no coherence...just one-off solutions that get rolled out company wide.

    Advice to Senior ManagementInvest some capital in professional information systems

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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