In an exposé published earlier this month in the New York Times, online retail giant Amazon was described as a 'bruising' place to work, coming under fire over allegations around its work conditions.
These included being described as subjecting its workers to "brutal exploitation" and making staff "physically and mentally ill."
The problem has been attributed to the level of scrutiny under which all employees perform, with high minimum performance levels in place and almost everything measured – allegedly leading to work-related stress and anxiety in some cases.
The report also suggests that working less than 80 hours a week is frowned upon, emails are expected to be replied to 24/7, and even personal crises aren't call for reduction in performance targets.
Some have defended Amazon online, suggesting that the company remains compliant with employment laws, with employees made aware of what is expected of them when they join, and pointing to the company's large growth and continuing innovation.
And Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO, came out to defend the company, saying the article didn't describe the Amazon he knew.
Whether or not the article is an accurate depiction of life at Amazon, it raises a question for businesses: What kind of business do we want to be, and how do we achieve that?
It's natural for businesses to want to perform to their maximum capacity, but this should include getting the most from employees – not pushing them beyond their limits to breaking point.
Our Manager's Guide to Objective Setting eLearning course is an in-depth resource to help managers get the most out of their staff by setting the right objectives, which both push employees to reach their potential and meet organisational goals.
Taken from the course, these Six P's of Effective Objective Setting can help any business in setting the right objectives:
- Participate – managers and employees should work together to set objectives that the employee buys into, with the employee owning responsibility to complete the objectives and the line manager responsible for mapping out strategies to ensure this is possible.
- Precise – objectives should be precise and logical so that both employee and line manager know what is expected. Using a SMARTER (Specify, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Exciting, Reviewed regularly) framework for objective setting can help with precision.
- Push – objectives should push employees to the extent of their capacity, so they realise their potential and optimise their performance – but objectives must still be achievable.
- Purpose – objectives should be aligned between individual, team and organisational goals, providing motivation to the individual while incorporating the bigger picture.
- Pathway – there should be a clear pathway to achieving objectives to help employees stay on track. Setting milestones and combining long and short term goals which can be regularly monitored can help to achieve this.
- Performance Feedback – managers should regularly seek and provide feedback about employee objectives, ensuring that feedback remains focused on the tasks and is based on measurable indicators.
eLearning courses are an effective way to shape the culture within your business, and make delivering consistent training to all employees straightforward and cost effective. Our Performance Management Suite contains a number of ready-made eLearning courses designed to deliver essential training in all areas of performance, which can be tailored to meet your particular business needs.