What's it really like to work at Amazon? Jeff Bezos says it's not a bad place, the NYT says it's hell - here's what the employee data says

 
Lynsey Barber
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The NYT called Amazon a bruising workplace based on interviews with former employees (Source: Getty)

What's it like working at one of the leading technology companies in the world which pioneers new business models and is disrupting traditional industries left, right and centre, from books to groceries?

Exciting? Dynamic? A fun working day filled with office slides, nap pods and free food?

Hellish more like. That's according to the New York Times (NYT), which has published an expose on working at Amazon after a six-month investigation involving interviews with hundreds of former employees.

“Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” said one former Amazonian, as they're known. “I would see people practically combust,” said another.

Other unsavoury revelations about working for the company alleged in the piece include, an in-house feedback tool which can be used to tell anyone what you really think of their work performance - at any time, completely anonymously - and the use of data to apparently manage people to within an inch of their lives (which are all swinging towards work when it comes to the work-life balance equation the ex-employees say).

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has responded to the article, which paints a picture of a dystopian nightmare, in a memo to staff, saying: "I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company."

A current Amazon employee also felt the need to offer a near-claim by claim rebuttal on LinkedIn.

What is it really like to work there then?

According to data from Glassdoor, employees have actually ranked Amazon more highly than the New York Times in three of the five areas on which employers on the site are scored.

The anonymous review site places Amazon ahead in terms of views on senior management, compensation and benefits, and career opportunities.

Fellow tech company eBay also lagged behind in terms of career opportunities and was only slightly ahead in terms of an overall score.

While Amazon comes out as the worst against similar tech companies - Facebook, Google, Microsoft, eBay - along with the NYT, scoring 3.7 out of five, eBay comes in not far behind at 3.5 and the NYT at 3.7.

The work-life balance at Amazon does appear to be more of an issue in comparison to fellow tech firms. It's the lowest scoring of all areas among the 5,000-odd current and former employees who have left a review.

Meanwhile, Amazon is the company least likely to be recommended to a friend compared to the rest of the companies compared, but pulls ahead of NYT, eBay and Microsoft when it comes to a positive business outlook.

Some 62 per cent of reviewers would still recommend to a friend that they go and work at the company though.

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