- Amazon ranks office workers in ratings to remove 6% per year, reports the Seattle Times.
- One of them examined the mandates of the documents considering the “future contributions of workers compared to others”.
- Insider reported that Amazon ranks workers on a curve, but denied ranking workers by stack.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
Amazon would pit office workers against each other in assessments to cut 6% of their jobs each year, according to a report released Monday in the Seattle Times.
Amazon told The Times it never “ranked” employees, but the company asks managers to rate the potential of office workers against that of their peers, internal documents reviewed by the Times.
Curve-based employee rankings mean that even good workers can end up in the bottom tier, which can hurt their pay and job prospects with the company.
A document reviewed by The Times, called the Q1 2021 Talent Evaluation Packet, instructs managers to consider an employee’s potential on a four-point scale. He asks, “Thinking of this employee’s future contributions versus others, where would you place them? The document also asks managers to rate workers against “the performance bar for their role and level” on a scale of 1 to 7.
Amazon then groups employees into one of five levels, called aggregate value designations, the document says. Twenty percent of workers are expected to be at the top level, followed by 15%, 25% and 35% in the following levels, respectively, all of which are referred to as “high value-added” employees.
The bottom 5% of workers is the “least efficient” level. Employees downstairs are sometimes placed on a performance improvement plan. The Times reports that Amazon expects more than a third of employees put on these plans to fail.
Employees are then informed into which of the three broad categories they fall into – “need improvement”, “achieve” or “exceed” – based on their numerical ratings on the Amazon Performance Entry Scale, according to the Times.
The package also asks managers not to tell employees what level of overall value they are at and what pay scale goes with their level.
The rating system is central to Amazon’s efforts to achieve an “ungranted attrition” goal of having 6% of office workers considered the lowest performing leave the company each year, the Times reports. Amazon human resources employee Eilis Murphy told The Times that target fell to 4.1% earlier in the pandemic but has since fallen to 6%.
Amazon warns managers “to avoid comparisons with other employees” and advises them not to adjust ratings “just to meet a recommended distribution,” according to a presentation the Times reviewed. However, Amazon’s internal staff platform allows managers to modify performance scores using the same tool that shows how the range of team employees’ scores align with the Amazon recommended distribution. .
Several Amazon employees told Insider in April that Amazon’s practices amounted to stacking, despite the company’s protests to the contrary. Tech giant Microsoft stopped using battery ranking in 2013. Others that have abandoned the practice include IBM, Accenture, and General Electric, whose former CEO Jack Welch popularized battery ranking. .
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.