- Amazon laid off more than 27,000 people in 2023.
- The company also announced plans to return to the office in February.
- One senior employee said the RTO plan was one of the tactics Amazon used to weed out employees.
On September 1, Justin Garrison was fired from his senior position and team at Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary.
he wasn’t fired. He no longer had a role. He still receives a regular paycheck, as seen in the pay stub he shared with Business Insider.
For the past four months, Mr. Garrison has been stuck at Amazon, with managers refusing to fire him or assigning him a new job, instead encouraging him to find another role within the company or take him elsewhere. tell you to find a job.
Garrison, a senior developer advocate who has spent nearly four years writing documentation and testing cloud computing products at AWS, said this comes after more than 27,000 employees were laid off and returned to the office. He said it was part of a worrying pattern within the company. The plan was announced in February.
Garrison and another Amazon employee said that rather than go through another round of mass layoffs that could scare away shareholders or hit employees with expensive severance packages, the company should force an RTO and He told Business Insider that he feels the company is trying to make life miserable for its employees by putting them in prison. A position with a lower salary or a more junior title.
This practice, often known as a “quiet dismissal,” results in the removal of perks and benefits, a supervisor’s lack of attention to a particular employee, and in some cases, outright dismissal of an employee.
In a blog post on Saturday, Garrison laid bare the problems he’s had with Amazon over the past few months, which he dubbed “silent sacking.”
Where is my retirement fund?
Garrison said there had been a lack of clarity from senior management about the future of his role since the summer.
When Amazon CEO Andy Jassy announced the RTO plan in February, Garrison’s team and other groups were told they would not be affected.
After all, Garrison’s job was always expected to be remote. He joined the company in April 2020, but began interviewing for the position well before the pandemic hit in March of that year.
“I was told multiple times that it would not affect me or the team I worked with. Then over the summer, things changed,” Garrison wrote on his blog.
Garrison told BI that the company went beyond the normal RTO of allowing employees to work from any office and enforced a “return to team” mandate that requires them to be in the office where their team is located.
For Garrison, office options included Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, and Vancouver, Canada. Garrison said when he chose Vancouver, he was told the company probably wouldn’t sponsor a work visa.
“So it wasn’t even an option,” he said.
Garrison was then told the team had a one-year “remote exception.” But two days later, on September 1st, he learned that his entire team would be eliminated. All but two of his people on his team found other roles within the company.
Garrison told BI he has about a month and a half to finish his job at AWS. His skip-level manager told Garrison, “When you’re done here, if you can find another job on the outside, take it.”
“You’re telling me to go find another job and get another job without any repercussions,” Garrison told BI. “That seems very disingenuous. It seems really shady to me.”
After Garrison finished his job in mid-October, he asked his bosses, including AWS Vice President Barry Cooks, for severance pay. They previously said severance was optional. As Mr Garrison’s senior employee, he felt he was in a “privileged position” to make that request.
But Garrison was told he had to write a proposal. To get approval for retirement benefits.
Garrison said he would contact Cooks for an update on hiring and severance over the next two-and-a-half months. During that time, he was trying to help his teammates find other roles, but he said he hadn’t attended any meetings in months.
“It’s the best vacation,” Garrison said. “I was like, ‘This is amazing, but I don’t know when it’s going to end.’
Garrison last spoke to Cooks around the second week of December. Since then, he has not received any updates regarding his severance pay, he told BI.
“That’s why we published this blog post,” Garrison said. “I’ve been pretty quiet about it for months.”
Impact on Amazon
Garrison told BI that these tactics are a way to control Amazon’s workforce.
An Amazon software development manager who was asked to travel across the U.S. from New York to Seattle for an RTO previously shared similar sentiments with Business Insider. After nearly four years with the company, this employee received a $203,000 pay cut with unvested stock forfeited solely due to Amazon’s RTO policy.
“If I had to guess, I think part of it is reducing the number of employees without further layoffs, because that signals bad things for shareholders,” the executive, who requested anonymity, told BI.
In a Dec. 5 post, former AWS employee Merritt Baer said, “The number of departures at AWS in the last week is staggering.”
Amazon spokesperson Rob Munoz said in an email to Business Insider that the company has “repeatedly been clear about the motivation behind our RTO decisions, and these inaccurate and misleading anonymous anecdotes are simply not true.” I wrote.
“In February, we told our employees that starting in May, we would be asking them to come into the office at least three days a week. “And it has happened. With the majority of employees in the office more often, there is more energy, connection, collaboration, and a positive impact on employees and their surroundings.” We are hearing this from businesses,” Muñoz wrote.
However, a software development manager who took a $203,000 pay cut told BI that the company had not shown any evidence that working from home reduced productivity.
Garrison acknowledged in a blog post that this year’s mass layoffs only affected about 1.7% of Amazon’s workforce. Still, RTO initiatives and layoffs can “debilitate” many teams and reduce a company’s agility to innovate.
He explained how Amazon’s organizational approach was known for many years as the “two-pizza team.” Jeff Bezos said the idea was to “build a team smaller than what you could feed on two pizzas.”
But labor costs are expensive, Garrison said, and Amazon appears to be moving toward a more “centralized” organization, where larger teams of expertise are created and “everyone is part of that centralized organization.” “I borrow time from the pool.”
“The downside is that you have to wait in line to consult an expert,” he says.
Mr. Garrison told BI that he would like to receive severance pay, but that he has since lost any hope of receiving severance pay.
He also felt compelled to write a blog post to speak for other lower-level Amazon employees who find themselves in similar situations but lack the experience to quit or make a fuss. said.
“They don’t have a lot of connections in the current job market,” Garrison said. “I’ve been in the tech world for 20 years. I’m fine.”
Since posting his blog on Saturday, Garrison said he has received messages from people within the company saying his post resonated with their positions.
“No one at Amazon told me I was wrong,” Garrison said. “They were all like, ‘Yeah, this is exactly what we’ve been living through, it sucks.'”
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