Business Insider has a really good piece in which it takes a hard look at Amazon's "Earth's best employer" initiative, announced in 2021.
The initiative, which was launched as Jeff Bezos handed the CEO reins over to Any Jassy, "aimed to revamp the company's reputation as a toxic workplace. The company even added the slogan 'Strive to be Earth's Best Employer' to its set of 16 leadership principles it follows.
"But 18 months into the launch, employees say the Earth's best employer project still hasn't taken off. The company's growing bureaucracy has drawn the scorn of many employees, who call it 'Day 2,' a derisive play on Amazon's speedy, risk-taking culture referred to as 'Day 1.' Meanwhile, employees are still complaining of a toxic, secretive culture in which they aren't notified when they're put on a performance-improvement plan and managers face little oversight on how they evaluate employees.
"Current and former employees told Insider the initiative lacks direction and executives have struggled to clearly define its scope or provide tangible deliverables for what the initiative should achieve. Managers at Amazon are defaulting to a hodgepodge of party lines when referring to the initiative, while their actions exacerbate the same toxic culture employees have been complaining about for years."
The story goes on:
"Employees said the lack of guidelines around the initiative have severely dampened its impact on the company's workplace culture.
"'We came up with the best employer idea before we defined it,' one of the people said. 'Nobody knows what it means or why it's important.'
"As the economy worsens, some employees believe Amazon's Earth's best employer initiative was all just a 'marketing gimmick.' Now that the labor market has shifted, Amazon has little reason to spend resources in making good on their promises.
"'It was all just for show anyway,' another employee said. 'Amazon went through a phase where they pretended to care about their employees. That phase is over'."
- KC's View:
I've been saying here for a long time that if Amazon brought the same level of attention and investment to labor relations that it brings to other areas of innovation in its business, it could be a game-changer. But there has been no evidence of that happening.
A lot has happened at Amazon since 2021, but I think one would be hard-pressed to identify the workplace as an area in which the company has made any meaningful strides.
I've criticized Amazon lately as over-promising and under-delivering in a number of its business segments, a reversal of how it used to be perceived. It seems that its workplace may have been a kind of leading indicator of the business's broader problems.