Disclaimer: This short text is not about Amazon, it is about the whole tech industry in united states.
My grandpa used to say: If you want treasure, you need work for it! Hard.
This quote, is as true for companies as is for individuals. If a company wants to do extra-ordinary things that others deem impossible, they need to work really, really, really hard and smart. Delivering a gummy bear in the same day for free and still being profitable, having the best customer service in the planet, or slashing the price on cloud and still make profit while competitors can’t even get close to that price, are incredible achievements and require a lot of work.
And people enjoy working hard when they are solving hard problems. Any person who has hiked for a peak on a weekend knows this.
So, is there a way to work mediocre and still get great results? I don’t think so.
BUT, there remains the problem of empathy. Putting a cancer survival on ‘performance improvement plan’ is (… fill up the blank), even as an isolated case.
We don’t know how to formalize empathy? When it comes to soft values, we can only hope our managers will do the right thing.
Hoping that managers who are already under pressure to deliver will do the right thing in the most complex human situation is not the right approach.
Solution is simple:
Have the policy to let employees with hardship (families with new-born child, people struggling with disease, or other issues) have long paid time offs, and give them the chance to get their acts together and help them come back to a team that is fit for their new reality.
But is this going to make the company bankrupt?
No, it is only going to improve the brand, retain talent, and improve employee moral, if “I know company is there for me in hard times, I would be there for the company in hard times too.”
This is not a new concept. There is even successful, insanely profitable business model around empathy (can you guess, yes it is insurance). A large company can easily afford to guarantee empathy in workplace, and even make profit from it.
Will this ever happen:
Yes, many companies already do such practices. Amazon’s Career Choice Program is a good example of how empathy can become a policy. As the demand for a healthier workplace grows among high skilled workers, companies will adopt better practices.
Billion dollar idea:
I can see (and hope) that there would be a billion dollar venture in future that empowers every small and large company to give their new moms long vacations. They can makes money from charging a monthly premium (from employer or as salary sacrifice) like insurance companies.