Amazon: Organizational Strengths, Opportunities, and Dynamics
The main reason Amazon Inc. was selected for the given assessment and analysis is due to my past experience working as an intern at the company for six months. It was a highly valuable internship, which was both challenging and engaging since I was able to learn a number of practical skills about human resource management. In general, the work heavily involved interactions with other people, which was stressful to the extent that it made me anxious. However, through the internship experience, I noticed that many of these challenges are arbitrary and can be eliminated with a better organizational model and culture.
When it comes to the organizational strength at Amazon, the most evident characteristic is a high level of efficiency. The company operates with the goal of maximizing the use of all available resources in order to obtain the best results. The main reason why Amazon chooses to implement such an intensive culture is described as “breakneck-paced, and notoriously cost-conscious, as befits a company that has run only a small profit, or a loss, under generally accepted accounting principles for most of its life as a public company” (Dudovskiy, 2020, para. 1). In other words, for most of its existence, Amazon had to maximise its performance and output in order to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction, which revolves around low prices and top quality service.
Therefore, the organizational culture at the company is fast-paced and vigorously efficient, which taught me to be more efficient with my time as well. There are no frequent meetings; if the latter is required, it has to be quick, succinct, and concise. Sensemaking is of paramount importance at Amazon since it needs to constantly aware and knowledgeable about any changes (Ancona et al., 2007). In addition, the organizational culture of the company is high inventing, where the emphasis is put on “creating new ways of approaching tasks or overcoming seemingly insurmountable problems to turn visions into reality” (Ancona et al., 2007, p. 1). In other words, managers, including human resource managers, are incomplete leaders who hire people to complement them rather than control them. Another major strength of the company is its ability to quickly uncover competing commitments, which ensures that no employee is resistant to change (Kegan & Lahey, 2001). Thus, the culture and managers are highly trained and skilled in removing any barriers which can substantiate any form of resistant behavior.
Despite the fact that Amazon is all about efficiency, there are major problems when it comes to human resource management. It is important to note that such a fast-paced organizational model and culture is incompatible with the long-term retention of valuable and skilled employees. It is reported that “Amazon’s turnover rate for hourly associates is about 150% a year, even before the pandemic, according to the NYT. The turnover rate concerns some executives who compared the problem to burning fossil fuels despite climate change” (Deppen, 2021, para. 4). Such a stressful environment leads to anxiety among workers, especially retail employees, which I found to be counterproductive to the company’s goals of efficiency. The main reason is the fact that “anxiety inhibits learning,” which is critical to ensure the adaptability of the company’s operations (Coutu, 2002, p. 6). Therefore, in accordance with Mintzberg’s organizational model, there is a clear detachment between the strategic apex and operating core (“Mintzberg’s organizational model,” 2017). The given organizational model makes the work of the supporting staff, such as HR managers, almost impossible.
The management seeks to achieve the highest customer satisfaction without taking into account its employees. The reason is that “customer satisfaction had a causal relationship with employee satisfaction and an understanding of the employees’ satisfaction role was extremely important” (Al Kurdi et al., 2020, p. 3561). Therefore, by excessively pushing workers to work more efficiently and in a fast-paced manner, the company goes against its own core strategic goals of customer satisfaction. In comparison, Costco also seeks to achieve excellence in performance, but it heavily focuses on growing, developing, and caring about its employees, which is the company that has the most satisfied workers in the industry (Acosta, 2018). Therefore, the major opportunity for Amazon is to adopt some of Costco’s strategies since the latter is succeeding at maintaining both customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction level at high degrees.
In short, the major opportunity for Amazon is to properly connect its strategic apex and operating core, which are either intentionally or unintentionally detached at the moment. Human resource managers are forced to enforce the key strategic values, which causes anxiety and stress among workers. The turnover rate leads to poor retention of employees in the long-term, who could have been highly efficient as Amazon wants its workers to be. Therefore, the company should also improve its employee retention by removing unnecessary stressors from the organizational model, which is highly oriented towards short-term and immediate efficiency, as well as speed with long-term ramifications in terms of the loss of valuable and skilled workers. The current manager supervision can be cut down even more since all the operations are almost fully automated and tracked with technology. Amazon should move towards teal organizations since it already has a system to track worker performance.
On the basis of the information provided above, efficiency in infrequent and succinct meetings as well as customer focus works, which is evident by the current status of Amazon as one of the largest retailers. However, the excessive push of its operating core is counterproductive since workers experience burnout and anxiety, which leads to high turnover. I personally witnessed how two highly efficient retailer workers left their jobs for less stressful alternatives, which I consider a major loss for the company. Therefore, such an organizational model and culture of excessive efficiency at the cost of employee satisfaction and retention does not work. Workers feel anxious and pressured with no sufficient time to recover, which makes them think about other alternative positions. In their experience, they want to stay at Amazon long-term, but they cannot tolerate such pacing, which is why they are considering leaving after a few months of working.
The organizational culture at Amazon fails to integrate changes in the operations without affecting employee retention. According to the Kubler-Ross model, any change after the depression phase needs engagement to invoke the experiment phase (Belyh, 2022). However, since the operating core is always pushed to its limits, they exhibit no interest and engagement in a change. Employees noted that they experience psychological discomfort when voicing their opinions at work to superiors, especially managers. It is often impossible to convince managers how unnecessarily stressful the work of employees is, which could be mitigated by minor changes in workflow. Most of the employees also noted that the emergence of a new factor for the occurrence of the causes of psychological burnout is the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, it is important to mention the increased threat to their health and the health of loved ones in connection with their professional activities during the pandemic. There have been negative assessments of the company as a whole, with employees forced to adhere to all protective measures along with high performance due to the pandemic. An in-depth understanding of the emotional burnout of the organization’s employees in the context of the formation of their emotional competence is relevant both from the standpoint of theoretical analysis and from the standpoint of practical significance (Driskill, 2018). This is important because emotional competence is an indicator of a person’s psychological health and ensures one’s effective interpersonal and professional interaction.
In conclusion, Amazon’s key strengths involve efficiency and minimal waste of employees’ time on unnecessary activities, which do not contribute to the key strategic objectives. However, the company has a detachment between its strategic apex and operating core, where the current organizational culture and model sacrifices long-term retention of skilled workers in order to gain immediate efficiency results. The company workers regularly experience anxiety and stress working in such a fast-paced environment, which can be considered counterproductive. Therefore, the organizational change centered around workers can benefit Amazon in achieving its efficiency goals without compromising the well-being its employees and the satisfaction of its customers.
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