Jeff Bezos says 94% of Amazon employees would advocate their job to a good friend. Amazon employees say that stat is unreliable.


A close-up of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s face with a neutral expression.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. | Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg by way of Getty Photographs

It’s troublesome to get trustworthy suggestions from employees who concern retaliation.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just lately stated warehouse staff like working for his firm a lot that “94% say they’d advocate Amazon to a good friend as a spot to work.” However a few of his personal staff aren’t shopping for that statistic.

The 94 p.c quantity was gleaned from an worker survey program at Amazon known as Connections, which asks Amazon staff to reply a single query every day earlier than they will begin engaged on their firm laptop or their warehouse workstation. Bezos cited the stat in mid-April in his ultimate letter to shareholders as Amazon’s CEO.

However in interviews with Recode over the previous two weeks, a half-dozen Amazon staff and managers, two of whom are conversant in the interior workings of the Connections program, stated that many Amazon staff have widespread issues concerning the Connections program and the accuracy of its knowledge and insights.

These staff advised Recode that many Amazon staff don’t reply Connections questions actually as a result of they concern their responses aren’t really nameless, they usually concern retaliation if they offer destructive suggestions. Others advised Recode that some managers, each in warehouses and in company places of work, stress their workers to reply questions favorably. A warehouse supervisor and worker additionally stated employees usually simply select the highest reply to extra rapidly get on with their day.

Such skepticism is noteworthy not solely as a result of Amazon leans on Connections survey outcomes for public statements and bulletins, but in addition as a result of this system was developed by Amazon’s human sources division and informs how the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer evaluates worker job satisfaction.

Whereas Bezos defended the corporate’s remedy of front-line employees within the shareholder letter, which got here out shortly after a historic union vote failed at an Alabama warehouse, he additionally appeared to acknowledge critics when he wrote that Amazon wants “a greater imaginative and prescient for the way we create worth for workers” and that his new aim is for Amazon to be “Earth’s Finest Employer and Earth’s Most secure Place to Work.” On Wednesday, LinkedIn named Amazon because the No. 1 office “to develop your profession.”

Amazon spokesperson Adam Sedo despatched Recode an announcement concerning the Connections program that stated: “Changing into Earth’s Finest Employer and Most secure Place to Work requires, amongst different issues, listening to suggestions from our staff as usually as we take heed to suggestions from our clients. A method we do that’s by means of Connections, a query our staff reply confidentially daily. As an alternative of getting to attend for the outcomes of an annual worker survey, Amazon managers obtain entry to day by day suggestions from their groups and use it to enhance the worker expertise repeatedly. This method helps managers take motion rapidly and deal with issues instantly.”

In keeping with a number of sources, the survey program is a “pet undertaking” of Amazon’s human sources chief Beth Galetti, a former prime logistics govt at FedEx who first joined the tech big in 2013 as a vice chairman of human sources. She now could be one in every of roughly two dozen executives at Amazon on Jeff Bezos’s unique senior management staff, or S staff, and one in every of solely 4 ladies.

Connections questions can embrace all the things from asking an worker how they really feel about their supervisor to queries about workers restroom cleanliness. In keeping with a supply who labored on the Connections staff, this system was one of many first large-scale experiments of an organization finishing up a day by day worker survey. However this worker stated that within the early days of this system, some colleagues felt that the day by day cadence of questioning was a basic flaw that was much less efficient at precisely assessing an worker’s expertise than a quarterly or month-to-month survey would.

Sedo, the spokesperson, stated the corporate strongly disagrees with the concept the day by day cadence is a flaw. He added that Amazon asks a number of questions repeatedly over a time period in order that tendencies are detectable. Managers can view combination knowledge about their workers’s solutions on a weekly, month-to-month, quarterly, and annual foundation.

Both method, one of many largest points with the survey program, in response to all six staff who spoke to Recode, is that there’s a frequent concern amongst Amazon’s worker base that their solutions is not going to stay nameless.

“It’s a persistent concern that responses aren’t confidential/nameless,” says a present Amazon warehouse space supervisor, a job that usually entails managing dozens of front-line warehouse employees dealing with a selected activity, comparable to choosing objects from cabinets, stowing them, or packing bins.

Sedo, the corporate spokesperson, stated that every one solutions are confidential and that staff can select to not reply a query.

Two sources stated that warehouse employees usually select the highest reply, which appears to steadily be essentially the most constructive selection, simply to get on with their day. Others, on small groups, concern that even when their identify just isn’t tied to their survey solutions, managers might be able to take an informed guess at who responded negatively based mostly on prior interactions and retaliate towards them in a roundabout way. Managers of groups of greater than 4 staff can view combination survey outcomes from their workers, however those that lead groups smaller than that may’t, the Amazon spokesperson stated.

“Relying on the scale of staff, individuals used to have the ability to determine who stated what,” in response to a former Amazon worker conversant in the interior workings of this system. “So after some time, some staff determine, ‘I’m not going to be trustworthy.’”

Past all of this, a number of sources, each in company and warehouse settings, say they know of managers who coach staff on find out how to reply questions in an effort to get forward of survey outcomes which may not mirror effectively on the supervisor. Sedo, the Amazon spokesperson, stated the corporate prohibits managers from telling their workers find out how to reply questions or asking them how they responded.

Regardless of these issues, some sources stated Connections outcomes might be helpful if there’s, actually, belief between a supervisor and their workers.

“My expertise with my staff within the FC was that it was fairly correct, however I additionally inspired my staff to be open and trustworthy so I may use the scores as meant to deal with their obstacles and issues,” says the Amazon warehouse space supervisor. “It does permit me to simply perceive what sorts of issues are making the staff sad and/or the place my alternative areas are as a supervisor.”

The supply stated the Connections web site additionally supplies recommendations on find out how to deal with low worker scores.

However this identical supervisor stated there are “positively managers that may coach their groups find out how to reply as a result of it’s a efficiency metric that will probably be referenced throughout critiques.”

That reality, plus issues about anonymity and retaliation, forged sufficient doubt over the accuracy of survey outcomes that they need to be considered skeptically, in response to all the sources who spoke to Recode, whether or not for inner use or in Jeff Bezos’s ultimate annual letter to Amazon shareholders.

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