Why Amazon has a hiring problem, not a culture problem
There are a lot of similarities between dating markets and job markets. So it didn’t surprise me that I started to think about Amazon’s hiring practices as I was reading a dating advice column recently. In the column, a girl complains that she is always dating boring guys that don’t work out. The columnist tells her stop trying to date potatoes when you are a radish. Amazon’s hiring problem is that they are trying to recruit potatoes when they should be recruiting radishes.
Here’s what I mean. Amazon recognizes that cultures that are perceived as warm and comfortable (like potatoes) are broadly appealing to talent pools. The problem is that their actual culture is individualistic and competitive (more radish-like). When you try to attract potatoes into a radish pile, it’s no wonder people feel burnt by their experiences.
Instead of trying to appeal to the people who are looking for warm and comfortable, Amazon should be looking for people who want competition and individual accountability. This may be a smaller pool of individuals, and they will need to get creative in finding enough of them to staff their organization. That said, the results of taking this approach will likely yield a much more positive employer brand than they currently have.
The benefits of recruiting the right set of individuals means many of the metrics you use to measure your success will improve. Hiring yields should go up, employee engagement will improve, voluntary and involuntary turnover should decrease, and most importantly financial performance should increase.
It comes down to being authentic in the way you represent your company culture. By trying to be someone you are not, you are doing a disservice to your current and future employees. Here are a few more articles on building company culture: