Recently Amazon raised their company’s minimum wage in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Next month, Amazon’s U.S. minimum wage will be $15 per hour, while the U.K. will be around $13 per hour. This was a beacon of hope for Amazon workers who are known to work in horrible conditions for what used to be an impoverished wage.
But the grass isn’t always greener when you’re making more dough. The company decided to remove employee benefits such as eliminating stock options and monthly incentive bonuses for hourly employees. This means that some hourly employees will actually be losing money even though their hourly wage is increased.
This isn’t shocking at all when Amazon has a CEO like Jeff Bezos who sits and counts his billions away in his ivory tower.
Bezos built an empire that created a brand that is successful no matter what its name goes on. Amazon Prime, Amazon Alexa and Amazon Dash Buttons could’ve been unsuccessful for other companies but since consumers recognize the brand they automatically trust that it will serve its intended purpose. Brands and companies have the opportunity to control their successes if they foster their brand recognition in a way that elicits product selection.
According to an article published in Forbes, nearly 64 percent of U.S. households have an Amazon Prime membership. Most households have a single Prime user and 80 million people have memberships.
Amazon is a household name and you would imagine that a multi-billion dollar corporation would treat their employees better. But over the last half-decade, Amazon workers have spoken out about the harsh working conditions they are faced with.
In 2015, the New York Times published an expose about the horrendous work environment and culture that Amazon fosters. The Times article outlined how workers were encouraged to sabotage each other’s ideas, give constant feedback to other workers’ bosses and received constant notifications and emails past their true work hours.
The emotional toll that the company takes on its employees is easily distinguishable.
“You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face … Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” said Bo Olsen, a former book marketer at Amazon to the New York Times.
The burnout that Amazon employees face after working for the company is easily identifiable. Amazon has the second-highest turnover rate for any technology company in the United States. According to Business Insider, the average Amazon worker does not stay with the company for more than two years.
You would think that given the emotional stress that Amazon employees face, everyone from Bezos down would try their best to create a friendlier work environment. But apparently a hostile work environment doesn’t impact you when you can see the Space Needle from your 37th-floor office.
Amazon is powerful. With new inventions and technology, they have taken over the household. Amazon can be accessed from virtually anywhere with internet access. You can shop for whatever you want from wherever you want. Anything you need to find, Amazon usually has an answer for. With new adaptations like Prime, Alexa and Amazon Dash, Bezos’s company is creating a culture that cherishes Amazon and all they can provide.
Even with the success, Bezos has proven time and time again that he does not care about his employees and that everyone is replaceable to him.
“I constantly remind our employees to be afraid, to wake up every morning terrified,” Bezos said in a 1999 shareholder letter.
Even though he was talking about avoiding complacency, it’s evident that his half-joking motto has stuck over the past 19 years.
Raising the minimum wage was a good start, but it seems as if it was raised to cover up the removal of other incentives. There is still a lot of room for improvement at Amazon. Workers shouldn’t compromise their mental health to earn a paycheck, in the end you just end up being burnt out and Amazon is the perfect example of that.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Jacey Gonzalez studies journalism at the University of Nevada and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @JaceyLGonzalez.