The Weekly Vent: More On Toxic Workplaces

Surprise! Stressful work environments have a measurable negative impact on employees’ health and mortality, as set forth by The New York Times: How Stressful Work Environments Hurt Workers’ Health.

Among the findings:

• Work-family conflict more than doubled the odds of an employee reporting poor mental health and increased the odds of self-reported poor physical health by about 90 percent.
• Job insecurity raised the odds of self-reported poor physical health by about 50 percent.
• Low organizational justice increased the odds of having a physician-diagnosed condition by about 50 percent.
• High job demands raised the odds of a physician-diagnosed illness by 35 percent.
• Long work hours increased mortality by nearly 20 percent.

In addition, unemployment and low job control significantly upped the odds of all of the outcomes, while adverse psycho-social situations at work – lack of fairness, low social support and low job control – were as strongly associated with poor health as concrete factors like long hours and shift work.

Jeff Bezos, the Evil Boy Genius, may have actually figured out the beancounter’s way around this dilemma: work the employees to a draconian degree for a few years, but use constant culling to weed them out as their health and stamina begin to flag — so the financial chickens (aka costs of destroying employees’ health) never come home to roost. By the time these Amazon workers really start to fall apart with serious health problems, they no longer work at Amazon. Score!

Here’s what many employers are actually doing, rather than reduce all these stressors, as Alicia Liu at neatly summarizes the Amazon Way as well as Bezos’ published denials:

  1. Purposeful Darwinism
  2. “Anytime Feedback”
  3. The Hunger Games, i.e. “rank and yank”.
  4. Overworking employees, as in constant, 24/7 contact and no real down time.
  5. Continual performance improvement algorithm applied to all employees, all the time.
  6. Intimidation and harsh, public put-downs.

Jeff Bezos Response to that “New York Times” Article.

Lovely. Simon Head at wrote another expose almost a year ago, focused more on the brutal work conditions allegedly suffered by Amazon’s blue-collar workers:  Worse Than Walmart: Amazon’s Sick Brutality.   Let us not forget that Jeff Bezos career began as a trader at a New York hedge fund: the ultimate numbers-driven, heartless, soulless line of work, imho. And the EBG (Evil Boy Genius) is actually promoting these workplace “management tactics” to other employers. Coming soon to a workplace near you — or YOUR workplace. Think about that next time you think about placing another order at; I know I will.

Photo: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

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