Former Amazon Employees Shocked by Resignation Recommendation: “I Feel Like I’m Waiting for Execution | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Former Amazon Employees Shocked by Resignation Recommendation: “I Feel Like I’m Waiting for Execution

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The building housing’s Japanese subsidiary (Photo: Kyodo News)

On September 5, 15 drivers who deliver packages for Internet shopping giant Amazon Japan Inc. in Nagasaki formed a labor union. The union demanded improvements in overwork and daily wages, which are among the lowest in Japan, and is the second such case in Japan following Yokosuka City. Restrictions on COVID-19 crisis outings have led to increased consumption through mail-order sales.’s profits also surged. Not only Amazon delivery workers, but also full-time employees were under unreasonable pressure as the company pursued profits and further efficiency. What exactly is the “feeling of waiting for execution,” as one former employee who agreed to be interviewed put it?

One day, out of the blue, I received a headhunter’s letter. has become a common noun throughout the world today. The company’s product lineup alone is quite extensive, but it also has a wealth of highly qualified personnel to lead the global company, which is vying for the top spot, to further growth.

One such person was Shiro Oe (pseudonym, in his 40s).

I would like you to meet with an Amazon recruiter and have an interview.

One day, he suddenly received a letter from the company where he worked. It was a headhunting letter from Amazon, addressed to Mr. Oe from a recruitment agent.

Of course, Amazon is the world’s largest mail-order company. I myself was interested.

Oe was hired immediately, and his working conditions at Amazon were much better than those at his previous job.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious about changing jobs.

The headquarters of Amazon Japan (Meguro-ku, Tokyo), where he was to join the company, was filled with people who had received international education, had worked for global companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook, or were proud of their backgrounds in establishing businesses overseas.

I wondered if I would be able to compete on an equal footing with these people, and behind that was a feeling of fear that I might not be able to live up to their expectations.

However, with his natural ambition, Mr. Oe rather saw the opportunity to work with such a large number of talented people as a “learning opportunity,” and “I have been using the knowledge I have absorbed from the people around me as my own flesh and blood.

However, there was one thing that bothered him.

He said that his bosses, whom he respected and admired, often told him, “Amazon is not a company where you can stay for a lifetime. I have to quit someday.


Members of the Yokosuka Branch of the Tokyo Union of Amazon Delivery Workers, who visited the headquarters of Amazon Japan after forming a labor union in June of this year, raise their spirits (Photo: Kyodo News)

More than half of the manual is written in English, and while it describes the principles, it does not address how to handle exceptional cases. The only way to learn a new job is to look around you. There were many times when I could not get advice even from my colleagues.

My exposure to Amazon’s corporate culture, which prioritizes the pursuit of profit, was through a coaching plan designed to improve individual performance.

His supervisor explained that the plan was an educational plan to help you improve, and since his performance the previous year had been poor, Mr. Oe was instructed to participate in this plan.

There was even a suicide at the Seattle headquarters.

In two months, he set two goals: to improve his sales performance and to accomplish the project.
Mr. Oe saw this as a good opportunity to overcome his own weaknesses and improve his performance, and he worked positively on the project.

For about a month, he worked weekends and gave it his all, and as a result, he was expected to achieve a much higher rate of achievement than his targets.

However, his supervisor insisted that Mr. Oe’s achievement rate was not based on his ability, but only on the appearance that he had achieved it due to a revision of the calculation standards, and that it was a natural increase. When asked what she had to do to achieve the target, her supervisor simply replied, “Think for yourself” and “It’s up to you.

I also consulted with human resources to see if it could be considered power harassment by the supervisor to ask the employee to accomplish something that was impossible without clearly indicating what constituted accomplishment of the task. However, at a meeting with his supervisor the next day, it turned out that everything he had discussed with his supervisor had been kept under wraps.

That was the moment I realized that this company could not be trusted.

With the deadline for the coaching plan approaching, he repeatedly asked for feedback on what he was lacking, only to be kicked out by his supervisor, who said, “If you don’t think for yourself, it’s not coaching.

If the goals set in the coaching plan were not achieved, the company implemented a full-scale Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) at that time. According to Oe, the human resources department explained to him that if he failed to meet the plan quota, the employee would be forced to resign, and if he refused to resign, he could be demoted.

Mr. Oe said that he “felt like I was going crazy” after being subjected to pressured interviews and resignation recommendations made in the name of business improvement.

PIP has a history of being implemented, especially in foreign-affiliated companies. In Japan, there have been numerous reported cases of excessive quotas being imposed and unfulfilled employees being forced into voluntary resignation, while in cases leading to dismissal, workers have complained of unfairness and even gone to court battles.

In 2018, 11 IBM Japan employees won all of their court cases in which they sought to withdraw their unfair dismissal by PIP at different times. Also in 2013, a Tokyo District Court ruling invalidating the dismissal of a male reporter who had similarly sued Bloomberg News Agency in a PIP case was confirmed by the high court.

According to Oe, there are “a mountain of people” in Japan who have been forced to resign or quit their jobs due to PIP, but the tragedy also occurred in the United States, home of Amazon.

At the end of November 2016, an employee who had requested to be transferred to a different department jumped to his death from the 12th floor of the company’s Seattle, Washington headquarters, suffering from being ordered to PIP against his wishes. According to reports by the Bloomberg News Agency and other media, the man survived, but before he threw himself, he sent an e-mail to all employees and to Jeff Bezos, who was CEO at the time. Immediately after the incident, social networking sites were flooded with posts from Amazon employees complaining about PIP and their own experiences.

Not having time to be appalled by the news, Oe was also approached with a coaching plan.

With a strong desire to improve his business performance, Mr. Oe put all of his energy into achieving his quota.

Although the plan was “to improve you,” there was not a single suggestion or advice from her supervisor, and not even a clear goal or achievement criteria. Time was ticking away as he groped his way through the process.

It was as if I was waiting for my execution, wondering when I would be beheaded. I now understand how the people in Seattle who tried to commit suicide felt.

Amazon, whose explosive demand increased due to the COVID-19 crisis, which people avoid contact with (Photo: Image of a package delivered via Amazon, Kyodo News)

Oe, who suffered headaches and nausea as a result of being placed in a state of extreme stress, was unable to endure a meeting with his boss and rushed to the hospital in the middle of the meeting. After being diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, he managed to continue PIP, relying on tranquilizers, even though he suffered from dizziness, numbness in his hands and feet, and insomnia.

His health worsened as he was repeatedly recommended to resign not once, but several times. He thought about changing jobs, but he passed up the opportunity twice to pursue the PIP and the unreasonable nature of the coaching plan, and joined the Amazon Japan Labor Union (Tokyo Managers’ Union) to negotiate with the company.

A supervisor who said, “If I were forced into the same position, I would run.”

After 2019, the company made him work remotely due to the spread of the corona infection, which was a relief in some ways, but it also restricted his access to internal and sales tools he needed to achieve his goals. In addition, he was excluded from team meetings and endured obvious harassment for about a year.

Mr. Oe himself revealed the pain he felt at the time, saying, “I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. is a company that pursues profit, productivity, and efficiency. When we spoke to former employees, they told us that based on a holistic evaluation system, the lowest-ranking member of a team who does not perform well is forced into retirement through a coaching plan or PIP, and the person who outperforms the highest-ranking performer is headhunted from another company.

According to foreign press reports, the reason behind the global attraction of people with outstanding abilities and achievements is not only the fact that Amazon is a globally well-known company, but also the reality that HR personnel themselves struggle with a “cut-throat quota”.

Ms. Oe’s boss was no exception.

He was walking a tightrope, with quotas imposed on him, and not knowing when he would be fired if he did not meet them. Oe’s boss told him, “I will be in your shoes someday.

I am aware that one day I will be in the same position as you. The world is not fair. I don’t want to feel bad, so if I am put in the same position as you, I will run away.

Amazon Japan responded to the interview by saying.

Like many companies, Amazon has tools and resources in place to help managers support their team members’ performance and career development.

Like many companies, Amazon has tools and resources to help managers support their team members’ performance and career development, including programs to support employees who need additional guidance and training to achieve performance expectations. If employees have concerns about their performance evaluations, they have multiple ways to express them, such as contacting the Human Resources Department or using an anonymous hotline,” said Oe.

Oe discussed his concerns with the human resources department, but his supervisor was in the dark about what he was discussing, which made him distrustful of the company. Amazon Japan may have set up a contact point for employees to “run to,” but it did not work in a positive way, at least not for Mr. Oe.

The year or two before his retirement is a “black history” that he would like to bury in the recesses of his memory, according to Mr. Oe. Even so, he would like nothing more than to say that he was inspired in every aspect by his excellent and respected superiors, including organizational management, communication with subordinates, and their attitude toward consulting and business. These treasures are now being put to great use. Every day, Mr. Oe hopes that even one more company employee suffering as he did will be saved. asserts on its website, aims to be the most customer-centric company on the planet, the best employer on the planet, and the safest workplace on the planet. When will achieve this goal?

Japan Inochi no Denwa Federation

Toll-free number: 0120-783-556 (8:00 a.m. on the 10th of each month to 8:00 a.m. the next day)

Navidial 0570-783-556 (10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.)

  • Interview and text Chie Matsumoto

    Journalist. She mainly covers issues related to social justice, including human rights and labor. She is co-author of "Mass Media Sexual Harassment White Paper" (Bungei Shunju) and "Manga de Wakaru Black Kigyo" (Godo Shuppan), and co-translator of "Striking China" (Sairyusha), which will be published in January 2021. Co-translation of "The Power of Change to Move the World: A Message from the Co-Chairman of Black Lives Matter" (Akashi Shoten) will be published in January 2021.

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