Inside Amazon company culture: Intense and effective (2023)

Former and current employees have associated the success of Amazon with its corporate culture. The set standard of this company is one that many companies aim to emulate. In this article, we’ll be showing you what makes the work culture at Amazon so unique.

The work environment at Amazon is considered high-pressure and many employees find it challenging to keep up. However, the e-commerce giant has shown tremendous progress over the years and CEO Jeff Bezos has its company culture to thank. Amazon’s work culture has earned them the business capacity to meet the demands of the e-commerce market.

Amazon's corporate culture has also been described as purposeful Darwinism, which pretty much explains the extra-push at this company.

About Amazon

Amazon is the world’s largest online marketplace. In 1994, Amazon started as an online book store but has scaled its operation over the years and now sells electronics, toys, movies, music, housewares, and other essentials. The e-commerce giants provide services to the four primary sets of customers; content creators, consumers, sellers, and enterprises.

This American multinational technology company has over 1.2 million employees across 235 locations, being one of the biggest companies in the world. In 2021, Amazon has won six Comparably awards commending its admirable work culture: Best Places to Work in Austin, Best Places to Work in Atlanta, Best Places to Work in Seattle, Best Places to Work in Los Angeles, Best Global Culture, and Best Company Outlook.

Their unique approach

Here are the different ways Amazon has its corporate culture structured;

1. Writing culture

How Amazon holds meetings is different from what you’ll see at other companies. Unlike other companies, opinions and ideas involved in making business decisions are documented. The size of these documents is usually about six pages. These documents drive a lot of clarity when resourceful information is to be discussed.

Employees at the meeting sit for at least 30 minutes to read these documents and then discuss. During this discussion, points are drawn out from each page and evaluated properly before moving on to the next. This way, employees with contributions and questions don’t have to wait till the end of the discussion – when they might have forgotten what they had to say.

This culture frowns against the use of PowerPoint, as it ruins the flow and clarity of meetings. They also prefer having employees spend more time on strengthening their claims than throwing up designs and styles that add no value to the meeting.

(Video) The Ruthless Culture of Amazon

2. Staying agile

Amazon uses its two pizza rule to stimulateagility in its corporate culture. This rule stipulates that each team must be small enough to be fed with two pizzas. This notion came to play during the formation of its technical teams, as they needed to maintain easy communication to prevent information loss.

However, this logic is now applied across all departments in Amazon to increase productivity. Team members feel a lot more significant and accountable in smaller teams than with larger teams that are difficult to manage.

3. Tenets and decision making

Amazon uses tenets to encourage individual decision-making in teams. These tenets act as principles that guide the decision-making process when each team member is faced with challenges. Each team gets a list of 5 tenets and has its charter explain how the tenets should impact their ideas and approach to certain tasks.

Tenets help team members make trade-offs – choosing what matters most. So when they get to a point where there’s a clash in value, these tenets help them decide which they should reach for. The purpose of these tenets is to skip the long chains of seeking permission from employees at the managerial level.

(Video) Amazon Culture: Writing Culture at Amazon

4. Push to innovation

Employees at Amazon are prompted to think outside the box. They are pushed to providing answers and not letting issues hang around. Employees are encouraged to come up with new ideas and solutions that put a problem to a conclusion.

5. Startup culture

Amazon maintains the energy that most startups have. The drive and constant pursuit for excellence. Most organizations that have attained the level of success that Amazon is on, slowly begin to withdraw and let things play out without putting in much effort as they did at the beginning. The employees still work as hard as they were when Amazon was still trying to build a brand. The consistency at Amazon is a work culture to embrace.

6. Customer-centricity

At Amazon, the satisfaction of customers is made a priority. The company hires talents that monitor the trend and desires of customers as they change over time. The change in customer demand is duly addressed, helping them gain the trust and loyalty of their customers.

Inside Amazon company culture: Intense and effective (1)

Why it works

Amazon is a results-driven company. Its work culture is centred around productivity and innovation. The company keeps its teams small, which gives team members full-on responsibility and accountability for the task at hand. The introduction of team tenets helps employees make decisions that positively impact the company, as they can approach issues without having to take permissions that might end up being shut off.

Clarity has also proven to be Amazon’s key to success. When business ideas and solutions are documented in written form, they can be transferred across several levels and not lose their value or be misinterpreted. All employees have the same information. These written documents act as a point of reference when needed.

How to apply it

Applying Amazon's work culture at your company is only possible if you adhere to their leadership principles. Here are 12 leadership principles Amazon's employees refer to every day:

1. Ownership

Encourage employees to act like owners by taking up responsibilities and make decisions in favour of the company.

(Video) Amazon Culture: How Tenets Can Change

2. Are right, a lot

Leaders are rarely wrong. Get employees to build their self-confidence and follow their instincts. Encourage them to trust their instincts.

3. Learn and be curious

Leaders never stop learning. So, get your employees to acquire more skills and be more open-minded about learning new things for self-development.

4. Hire and develop the best

Hire highly talented employees and allow them to help each other grow. This way, they keep raising the bar at work and are challenged to do better at all times.

5. Insist on the highest standards

The high standards of the company must be met at all times. Employees must understand that they have a reputation to protect and not go below the standards they already set.

6. Think BIG

Encourage your employees to think outside the box. There should be no limits to their ideas and they should always look at the bigger picture.

7. Bias for action

(Video) Amazon Culture: How Teams and Individuals Stay Innovative

Help employees understand the importance of risk calculation and how some irreversible actions should be avoided.

8. Frugality

Make more with less. Employees should work within the budget and not expand the costs of establishing an idea.

9. Earn trust

Earn the trust of your employees by showing them that you have their best interest at heart. As a leader, listen when they speak and pay attention. Make your employees feel heard.

10. Have backbones: disagree and commit

Be open-minded to criticism and contributions from your employees and teach them to do so too. Respectfully decline ideas that will not make any useful contributions.

11. Deliver results

More importantly, ensure that all actions and decisions made yield positive results.

12. Customer obsession

Leaders are only obsessed with their customers. Help your employees understand that the customers are the reason why the business is still standing. So, focusing on customer satisfaction and demands is a must.

(Video) Amazon Culture: Maintaining an Innovative Culture

Amazon has a high-paced work environment. While some employees see it as a push to become better at their job, others feel that the constant quest for perfection at this company is a lot of pressure. The work here is endless and employees work for long hours to keep up. Employees also feel like they are disposable and not appreciated enough for their hard work.

Before adopting the Amazon culture, pay close attention to whether or not your employees can handle such pressure. Otherwise, your company culture only becomes toxic.

If you're wondering about the state of your company culture, utilize this template, send out a survey and find out!

FAQs

What is Amazon's company culture like? ›

Amazon organizational culture has been 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.

What makes Amazon culture unique? ›

Amazon operates with a “Day 1” mentality – a culture and an operating model that puts the customer at the center of everything, just as if it were its first day in business. Day 1 is about being constantly curious, nimble, and experimental. It means being brave enough to fail.

Is Amazon a role culture? ›

Amazon's distinctive organizational culture fosters a performance-driven environment that fires up employees to innovate in pursuit of an outstanding, continuously-improving customer experience. Its brand identity is based on delivering that same disruptively innovative customer experience.

Which company has the best work culture? ›

According to a new report from the company review site Comparably, Microsoft is the No. 1 global company with the best workplace culture. The annual ranking is based on anonymous employee ratings for 70,000 companies shared on their site over a 12-month period from March 2021 to March 2022.

What is Amazon culture and values? ›

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth's most customer-centric company, Earth's best employer, and Earth's safest place to work.

What is a culture of a company? ›

An organization's culture defines the proper way to behave within the organization. This culture consists of shared beliefs and values established by leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding.

What is the key to Amazon success? ›

We can, however, examine three keys to Amazon's success–their email marketing tactics, ratings and reviews system, and loyalty platform–in order to show you what they're doing very, very right. A customer-centric worldview and a huge emphasis on efficiency have given Amazon a massive advantage.

What is Amazon's leadership style? ›

Amazon leadership style has been classified as pragmatist. Pragmatist leaders “set high standards and unapologetically expect those standards to be met by themselves and by their employees”[1] The company's founder and first CEO, Jeff Bezos is an exceptional and proven business leader.

What is Amazon's main purpose? ›

Amazon's mission statement is to “serve consumers through online and physical stores and focus on selection, price, and convenience.” Amazon's vision statement is “to be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its ...

Is Amazon a difficult place to work? ›

The company's fulfillment centers employ hundreds of thousands of people, offering pay and benefits that are competitive versus other retail-industry jobs. But the work can be grueling, some staff don't stick around long, and there are growing efforts to unionize this modern blue-collar workforce.

What type of organizational structure is Amazon? ›

Amazon organizational structure can be classified as hierarchical. Senior management team include three CEOs and three senior vice presidents responsible for various vital aspects of the business reporting directly to CEO Andy Jassy.

What 3 words describe the culture of a company? ›

Common Words to Describe Company Culture
  • Agile.
  • Collaborative.
  • Fast-paced.
  • Flexible.
  • Inclusive.
  • Passionate.

What is a positive company culture? ›

Company culture essentially represents the DNA of the business. Positive company culture involves trust, respect, and the opportunity for employees to grow. In a positive culture, founders, managers, and staff work with shared values and love what they do. Culture develops organically from the top down.

What makes a good company culture? ›

It takes consistent, collaborative effort from leaders and team members working toward building a culture that's genuine, valued and meaningful. Every organization has a culture, so making a conscious effort to design and promote it gives you an opportunity to determine what and who you want it to be — proactively.

What is Amazon best known for? ›

Amazon.com, online retailer, manufacturer of electronic book readers, and Web services provider that became the iconic example of electronic commerce. Its headquarters are in Seattle, Washington.

What Amazon looks for in employees? ›

Bezos explains that many people have unique skills, interests and perspective that add value to the work environment. Amazon looks for the excellence of candidate before hiring them. The superstar employees can be mavericks, radical and little bit of rebel.

How many Amazon principles are there? ›

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos developed 14 leadership principles for the company. It uses these principles every day to guide decision-making.

What are the 4 types of company culture? ›

4 Types of Corporate Culture
  • Clan Culture. Clan culture, also called a collaborative culture, is mainly focused on teamwork. ...
  • Adhocracy Culture. Adhocracy culture is primarily focused on innovation and risk-taking. ...
  • Market Culture. In a market culture, the bottom line is the main priority. ...
  • Hierarchy Culture.
Jun 16, 2021

What is a strong culture? ›

A strong culture is a set of habits, norms, expectations, traditions, symbols, values and techniques that greatly influences the behavior of its members. A weak culture is a culture that is individualistic whereby norms, symbols and traditions have little impact on behavior.

Is Amazon a difficult place to work? ›

The company's fulfillment centers employ hundreds of thousands of people, offering pay and benefits that are competitive versus other retail-industry jobs. But the work can be grueling, some staff don't stick around long, and there are growing efforts to unionize this modern blue-collar workforce.

What is Amazon's leadership style? ›

Amazon leadership style has been classified as pragmatist. Pragmatist leaders “set high standards and unapologetically expect those standards to be met by themselves and by their employees”[1] The company's founder and first CEO, Jeff Bezos is an exceptional and proven business leader.

What type of organizational structure is Amazon? ›

Amazon organizational structure can be classified as hierarchical. Senior management team include three CEOs and three senior vice presidents responsible for various vital aspects of the business reporting directly to CEO Andy Jassy.

What is Amazon's mission and vision statement? ›

Amazon's mission statement is to “serve consumers through online and physical stores and focus on selection, price, and convenience.” Amazon's vision statement is “to be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its ...

Are Amazon employees happy? ›

A majority of Amazon employees are happy with their jobs, a recent Insider survey found. Of the 237 respondents, 43% said they're "very happy" in their jobs. About 26% of respondents said they're "very well paid" given their responsibilities. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Is Amazon good company to work for? ›

Amazon India ranked #1 in the list of Best Companies to Work For in India, as part of a survey conducted by Business Today. The survey highlighted aspects such as growth and learning opportunities, clarity of company goals, and flexibility at work that were strong in the fabric of Amazon's work culture.

Does Amazon treat their employees well? ›

“Turnover at Amazon is much higher than at many other companies—with an annual rate of roughly 150% for warehouse workers,” according to the New York Times. There have been many complaints from employees at Amazon's fulfillment centers. Workers alleged that they are given back-breaking tasks in the warehouses.

How effective is the leadership team of Amazon? ›

Andy Jassy and the Amazon leadership team are scored a "B" by 7781 employees placing it in the Top 25% of companies sized 10,000+ Employees on Comparably. The Leadership Score of 73/100 is based on 23797 ratings; it combines employee feedback on their CEO (74/100), Manager (73/100), and Executive Team (72/100).

What is Amazon's most important leadership principle? ›

5. Learn to be curious. This is perhaps the most important Amazon leadership principle as it sets the foundation of the entire business structure. Leaders are never satisfied with their product, the word, 'perfect' is not in their dictionary.

How many Amazon principles are there? ›

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos developed 14 leadership principles for the company. It uses these principles every day to guide decision-making.

What is Amazon's belief about teamwork? ›

The Two Pizza Rule.

No working group should be larger than the number of people that two pizzas can feed. In other words, if your team is larger than 5-7 people, you're losing effectiveness.

What type of business model does Amazon use? ›

The retail business model is that vendors sell stuff to Amazon, who sells them online to consumers and delivers them to their doorstep. Delivery is by truck, robot, drone or online for digital content.

What is the organization structure? ›

An organizational structure is a system that outlines how certain activities are directed in order to achieve the goals of an organization. These activities can include rules, roles, and responsibilities. The organizational structure also determines how information flows between levels within the company.

Videos

1. Amazon employee work-life balance | Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon | Code Conference 2016
(Recode)
2. The Culture of Innovation at Amazon: Driving Customer Success
(Amazon Web Services)
3. Amazon Culture: Big Ideas
(Inside Amazon Videos)
4. This is what it's like to work in an Amazon warehouse
(CNN)
5. The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups | Daniel Coyle | RSA Replay
(RSA)
6. Sustaining a Day 1 Culture: Beth Galetti, Amazon SVP HR
(Amazon Web Services)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lidia Grady

Last Updated: 01/24/2023

Views: 6354

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lidia Grady

Birthday: 1992-01-22

Address: Suite 493 356 Dale Fall, New Wanda, RI 52485

Phone: +29914464387516

Job: Customer Engineer

Hobby: Cryptography, Writing, Dowsing, Stand-up comedy, Calligraphy, Web surfing, Ghost hunting

Introduction: My name is Lidia Grady, I am a thankful, fine, glamorous, lucky, lively, pleasant, shiny person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.