On August 15th 2015, internationally acclaimed newspaper, The New York Times, published a damning report on Amazon and its company culture. Public opinion had been – up until that point – divided on how the global e-commerce giant really manages its employee communications.
Some may remember the BBC Panorama undercover documentary in 2013, revealing the callous treatment towards Amazon warehouse employees. Others may associate the brand as one of the leading Cali-lifestyle ‘best places to work’. In any case, the recent revelations are causing quite a stir. The article took considerable steps forward in uncovering ‘the truth’ behind its values.
Led by the company’s Leadership Principles, it has allegedly incited a volatile behavioural system internally. One principle – ‘Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit’ – was reported as an opportunity “to rip into colleagues’ ideas, with feedback that can be blunt to the point of painful, before lining up behind a decision”. Others shared insight on an unsympathetic workplace culture – see Amazon Leadership Principle ‘Are Right, A Lot’ – that ousted employees in personal crisis from cancer through to miscarriages. As one ex-employee highlights in the article: “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”.
Needless to say, there is a fine line between ambition and overzealous, poisonous behavioural traits. But the most important lesson in all of this is the importunacy of effective Employer Value Proposition (EVP) communications. At Caburn Hope, we believe the way you communicate your employer brand directly impacts the employee life-cycle, their behaviour and engagement with you as an employer.
Businesses need to embrace their values in a way that doesn’t destroy everything a company works so hard to achieve. Why? Public opinion affects talent management, puts off your customers – and if you float on the stock exchange – stock prices will drop. This in turn will burn out your brand and be detrimental to profitability. Just ask Tesco’s about that.
But the most important thing in all of this is motivating your employees – your people. If you fail to engage them with a robust EVP that isn’t clearly communicated with the right level of support you risk more than your livelihood.
As the saying goes, “look after your employees and your employees will look after your customers”.