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Inside Amazon: Do employees actually hate it?

Amazon Jeff Bezos Working Conditions

Is Amazon really a totally miserable place to work or has The New York Times just run a hit piece on America’s most beloved online retailer because it’s jealous of Jeff Bezos’s success? If ratings on are any indication, it seems that many people really do enjoy working at Amazon, although it’s a comparatively miserable experience when it’s pitted against other major tech firms, including Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

BACKGROUND: Amazon CEO responds to bombshell report about how miserable it is working for Amazon

In total, Amazon has received a rating of 3.4 stars from employees on, which isn’t horrible but is also below the ratings we see for Google (4.4 stars), Apple (4.0 stars), Facebook (4.4 stars) and Microsoft (3.8 stars). This is important because Amazon is often competing for talent with these companies, which is one reason why Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos responded so forcefully to defend his company’s working environment after The New York Times depicted it as a digital sweatshop.

What’s even more telling than overall ratings, however, is how many employees would recommend working at Amazon to their friends. Overall, just 62% said they’d tell friends to come work with them at Amazon, compared to 92% for Google, 82% for Apple, 88% for Facebook and 81% for Microsoft.

Even positive reviews for Amazon posted on attest that it’s a really brutal place to work and not for the faint of heart.

“Amazon is built, quite deliberately, to be Darwinian,” wrote one employee who gave the company a four-star review. “The strong survive and the weak perish (metaphorically speaking) and the ‘bar’ is constantly increasing.”

“Bottom 10% performers have to be identified at every level each year,” wrote another four-star reviewer who described the company’s stack ranking employee evaluation system. “It gets tiring after few years as one has to be a survivor every year.”

So given such a demanding, cutthroat environment, is it any surprise that workers were slammed on their performance reviews because they missed time at work while undergoing cancer treatments? Bezos may say that such stories are isolated incidents but they appear to be far less isolated at Amazon than they are at Google, Apple, Facebook or Microsoft.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.