In the News

What It's Really Like to Work at Amazon in the Wake of New York Times Exposé

This past Saturday The New York Times wrote an investigative news story on Amazon that addressed “how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions.” While the article included insights into why Amazon’s work environment is the way it is, it also included some tough commentary from employees like “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

Given Amazon reported more than 150,000 employees at the end of 20141, and the reporters of the article interviewed several company-approved spokespersons along with 100 current and former employees, we felt it only fair to add more color to what it is really like to work at Amazon. We turned to the nearly 5,800 company reviews2 that current and former Amazon employees have shared on Glassdoor to give a richer take into the company’s culture and work environment.

Below are highlights from Glassdoor company reviews as to how the thousands of employees rate the company overall, CEO Jeff Bezos and several workplace factors. (Interestingly, Amazon ratings by employees in the area of compensation & benefits and career opportunities are notably higher than the average for all companies on Glassdoor.) In addition, we share more commentary from employees about the pros and cons of working for Amazon.

Amazon Highlights:

  • Amazon employees give the company a 3.4 company rating3 – the average company rating on Glassdoor is 3.3 4(Company ratings based on a 5-point scale: 1.0=very dissatisfied, 3.0=OK, 5.0=very satisfied).
  • CEO Jeff Bezos receives an 82% CEO approval rating, which is also higher than the average CEO approval rating of 67%4
  • When drilling down into the five workplace factor ratings Glassdoor tracks for every company, Amazon employees rate Compensation & Benefits the highest with a 3.5 rating (the average rating among all companies on Glassdoor is 3.2). Plus Amazon employees rate Career Opportunities with a 3.4 (the average rating on Glassdoor is 3.0). However, employees rate Work/Life Balance the lowest with a 2.7 rating.

In the data table below, you can see how Amazon employee sentiment has changed quarter by quarter over several years:

amazon

Here’s what just some of them have to say about the benefits (pros) and downsides (cons) of working for Amazon:

Pros

“Small teams, interesting, innovative projects, very smart people. Doesn’t feel like a cutthroat environment like you see at some competitive companies.” Amazon Program Manager I (Seattle, WA)

“Many opportunities to grow and to show what you’re made of. There are many resources to work, and you have the opportunity to work with extremely talented people.” – Amazon Software Development Engineer I (Vancouver, BC)

“There are plenty of opportunities to move ahead at Amazon, you just have to work hard and show continual growth. This is not a company for people that are comfortable in going nowhere, which is a reason they max out the pay scale after several years for each tier.” – Amazon Process Assistant (Tracy, CA)

“Company leadership leads, and leads well. Very intelligent colleagues make for a challenging and educational environment. Flexibility in hours and schedule. Freedom to invent, create, and innovate.” – Amazon Vendor Manager (Seattle, WA)

“There is lots of opportunity to advance internally and change career paths if you ever want to. Generally feel a sense of accomplishment as an owner of a team of people.” – Amazon Area Operations Manager(Seattle, WA)

Cons

“Amazon is not a caring environment. It’s all about performance. Know this before you join and take the signing bonus. It is just the way it is. If this doesn’t matter to you, and you are willing to work long hours for good pay, then Amazon is the place to be.” – Amazon Operations Manager (Seattle, WA) 

“With the explosive growth Amazon has seen, they have promoted too many people who are smart and great individual contributors into management roles. Most managers don’t actually know how to lead. Unfortunately, this will continue to get worse as Amazon expands into new areas.” – Amazon Employee (Seattle, WA)

“Projects are often under resourced and overly ambitious, creating an frenetic unfocused environment that can sometimes be hard to get simple things done. The frugal mindset is sometimes just cheap, which can cost more in the long run.” – Amazon Principal Engineer (Seattle, WA)

“If you’re looking for just 40 hours a week, Amazon is the wrong place. Realistic hours for a technical position are 50+ per week. Q4 is a special time of year, so if you like taking the month of December off work, Amazon isn’t somewhere you should look.” – Amazon Employee (Seattle, WA)

“Not much chance for promotion, training or job rotation. You get stuck in one spot unless you become best friends with the managers.” – Amazon Production Assistant(Lebanon, TN).

For even more insight into what really resonates with Amazon employees, check out the word cloud below showing the biggest themes that stand out among the pros and cons, shared by Amazon employees:

Amazon Word Cloud (1)

Are you a current or former Amazon employee? Share your experience by adding a company review on Glassdoor.

1 Source: Geekwire, January 2015

2 5,762 Amazon company reviews take into account from full-time, part-time, freelance, contract employees as well as interns

3 Based on company reviews shared on Glassdoor as of August 17, 2015

4 Source: Glassdoor Data Labs, June 2015