A couple of weeks ago, The New York Times published a detailed look at the tough, demanding corporate culture of Amazon.com.  We here at Happy Team Check decided to take a look at it.

It isn’t easy building one of the world’s biggest tech companies, and the type of culture you build will come to define what you become and the people you attract. Oftentimes, the culture of single-founder companies like Amazon (founded by Jeff Bezos) reflects the founder’s expectations of its employees. In the case of Amazon, what are they?

  1. Excellence before all else. Amazon only wants the best from its employees, and it definitely pushes the envelope when it comes to asking their employees to give it their all.
  2. Speak up. Amazon’s culture thrives in the ability of its employees to speak freely, even when it comes to criticism, since it challenges them to raise the bar of their performance.
  3. Be one with the system. A good Amazon employee is in sync with the company and knows what it has to do. In the New York Times article, they’re called “Amabots” for a reason.

Not everyone can thrive in this pressure cooker environment, and Amazon is famous for the stream of people that goes out through its doors–something that companies like Facebook have capitalized on. At the same time, Amazon employees are some of the most prized employees in the tech world. Is this necessarily a product of culture though, or could it be something more?

Employee motivation manifests in a variety of forms, and at Amazon, many are motivated by the pressure-cooker environment that the company embodies. This type of environment, naturally, benefits those who can embody an employee attitude close to Amazon’s values. Many have left not only because they can’t handle such a high-pressure environment, but also because the environment itself takes advantage of people who, due to one reason or another, whether it be through no fault of their own or not, are unable to keep up.

While we don’t want to endorse a particular type of corporate culture, keep in mind that the culture you build determines how you retain employees, not just because of your own preference (who are the people you want to keep in your organization), but also because of how your employees will perceive that culture to be and whether they think it’s worth it to stay.  We like to emulate others’ cultures, but sometimes the best thing to do is to know how your employees work best.

If Amazon can keep people given its environment, so can you, and it’s because they have the right people to make that happen.  So long as you keep employee satisfaction in mind, you’ll be able to keep moving your business forward.  And we would definitely like to help you there. 🙂