I’m all for motivating folks, and making them want to succeed. I believe in positive reinforcement, as well as rewarding hard working people for great ideas that make a company perform better. I’ve worked for some good companies that treat their employees like family and I’ve worked for some really bad companies that treat their employees like worthless peons.
Over a decade ago, when we started hiring people for our company, BookLocker.com, we vowed to be one of the good guys, and to remain one of the good guys no matter how successful we became. We also chose to remain small, meaning we would not bring in (greedy) investors who might try to change our business methods and ethical standards just to make a buck.
We treat employees, contractors (book designers and freelance writers), and customers (authors and book buyers alike) the way we want to be treated…the way they deserve to be treated. Through WritersWeekly, we pay our writers fast – faster than anyone else in the industry. We either send money immediately via PayPal, or we mail a check to those who prefer that method. We pay our contractors (book interior and cover designers/formatters/ebook conversion specialists) with the same speed and methods. We pay our authors monthly via PayPal if their unpaid royalties/commissions are $40 or more. For our employees, we pay good wages and offer full medical, dental and life benefits. We also offer paid vacation, sick, and personal days. Our employees are on flex-time, and telecommute so they can be there for their children.
Family is first and we continually remind our employees and contractors of that. If a child is sick, that book formatting job can wait until tomorrow. Nothing is more important than the children. The same goes for other loved ones who may need our employees’ or contractors’ attention and care.
If someone works hard for us, we are very happy to work hard for them. It’s far easier to keep a good employee than to find a new one (that may or may not be good). And, of course, training a new employee can take weeks or months.
So, the New York Times article that was published about Amazon this week made me sick to my stomach. First, how can a company (allegedly) treat human beings that way? Second, why on Earth do people allow themselves to be treated in that fashion?
Amazon has apparently denied some or all of these allegations but, of course, this isn’t the first time Amazon employees have reported improper treatment.
Aside from the ridiculous (alleged) working hour requirements, the quotes below are, in my opinion, the most disturbing allegations in the (very long) article:
(A) woman who had thyroid cancer was given a low performance rating after she returned from treatment. She says her manager explained that while she was out, her peers were accomplishing a great deal.
Another employee who miscarried twins left for a business trip the day after she had surgery. “I’m sorry, the work is still going to need to get done,” she said her boss told her. “From where you are in life, trying to start a family, I don’t know if this is the right place for you.”
A woman who had breast cancer was told that she was put on a “performance improvement plan” — Amazon code for “you’re in danger of being fired” — because “difficulties” in her “personal life” had interfered with fulfilling her work goals. Their accounts echoed others from workers who had suffered health crises and felt they had also been judged harshly instead of being given time to recover.
A former human resources executive said she was required to put a woman who had recently returned after undergoing serious surgery, and another who had just had a stillborn child, on performance improvement plans, accounts that were corroborated by a co-worker still at Amazon.
The mother of the stillborn child soon left Amazon. “I had just experienced the most devastating event in my life,” the woman recalled via email, only to be told her performance would be monitored “to make sure my focus stayed on my job.”
Molly Jay, an early member of the Kindle team, said she received high ratings for years. But when she began traveling to care for her father, who was suffering from cancer, and cut back working on nights and weekends, her status changed. She was blocked from transferring to a less pressure-filled job, she said, and her boss told her she was “a problem.”
The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others.
…many workers called it a river of intrigue and scheming. They described making quiet pacts with colleagues to bury the same person at once, or to praise one another lavishly.
(Bo Olson) said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”
Amazon came under fire in 2011 when workers in an eastern Pennsylvania warehouse toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away laborers as they fell. After an investigation by the local newspaper, the company installed air-conditioning.
Some current employees were reluctant to be identified because they were barred from speaking with reporters.
If even one of the allegations above is true, that would be horrible. I believe most, if not all, of them are true based on previous articles about Amazon’s treatment of employees.
If these allegations are true, I have to wonder how Amazon gets away with treating employees this way. Do they all sign contracts when hired that prevent them from suing the company for any reason?
This is all despicable and stories like this make me sick to my stomach. Jeff Bezos responded to the article, saying, “shockingly callous management practices” detailed in the piece wouldn’t be tolerated.
I have a VERY hard time believing he didn’t know this was going on.
On a side note, we sued Amazon back on 2008 for (alleged) federal anti-trust violations, and experienced some unpleasantness (an understatement) from Amazon during that time. After the judge refused to dismiss our lawsuit, Amazon decided to settle. They had to pay our attorneys $300,000. You can read more about that case HERE.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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