Amazon’s rules for hiring, who’s doing the most office housework, and more

Over at Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I take a look at several interesting work-related stories in the news right now, including Amazon’s rules for hiring the best people and a new study showing that women are still expected to do more of the office “housework.” You can read it here.

{ 112 comments… read them below }

  1. Adam

    Thinking of job skills as 101 vs. 201 level is an interesting way of putting it. Since I’ve recently been looking at college coursework again (not for going back, more for self study) it puts it in a nice little progressive category for me, which is bread an butter to my organizational obsessiveness. You should see my iTunes folder.

    1. Ck

      It’s not meant as an “everyone is above average” (which borders on “better than everyone else”), but more as a “we’re constantly improving ourselves” by trying to raise the bar with each new hire.

  2. Snarkus Aurelius

    I mentor young women, and I give them the advice I wish someone had given me. Do not: clean (unless you made the mess), bake, cook, play office therapist, order office supplies, take notes, make coffee, keep track of birthdays or weddings or anything else like that, ensure greeting cards are passed around, or any other stereotypically feminine jobs unless you’re an admin who is specifically assigned to do it. Spend your time on plum assignments and other opportunities to improve your skills and talents. Help people but on your terms and never so much you can’t get your work done.

    Yes you might not be viewed as positively as men, but you’ll hopefully have a killer resume with amazing accomplishments to leverage in your next job.

    Oh and employers? If you truly value all those duties I listed above, you’ll specifically hire someone to do them or assign an admin to do it. If you don’t, then those jobs aren’t that important.

    1. Adam

      For kitchen duty one thing my department does that I appreciate is assigns a rotating schedule. Every week it’s one person’s job to take care of keeping up the kitchen (which isn’t that hard) and everybody from the director down to the mail clerk gets a regular turn. In a department of 15+ people that means you end up doing it at most three weeks out of the year, so the big challenge is not in getting people to do it, but in remembering when it’s your turn.

      And coffee is on the “You want it; you make it” system.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        Question. What about people like me who never use the kitchen or anything in it? I never use dishes, drink coffee or store anything in the fridge. I also never user the microwave. I do this for the precise reason that I don’t have to clean up, especially not after other people.

        If I worked at your office, I would push back big time on any kitchen duty. I also ignore the “friendly reminders” and other pleas to clean at my office. I wonder if anyone has noticed?

        1. Adam

          As far as I know it’s never come up. From my own eyes I’ve seen my entire department use the kitchen for something even if it was just to rinse out a dish they used. And the kitchen stays fairly clean most of the time so cleaning doesn’t seem like a huge imposition when it comes up; at most five minutes a day during the week with a little extra time on Friday to wipe out the microwave and fridge. The only problem is that some people are a bit more forgetful than others.

          It also might be worth noting that my department’s gender split is about 3:1 with the women being the majority, including in authoritative positions. So I can’t say how well this would work in a department with a different makeup.

          1. HR Madness

            We did this at a previous company I worked for and I thought it was great and we were most definitely a male dominated office (2 women to about 30 men). Of course, not everyone used the kitchen but it was a small company and was expected. The president of the company was a stickler about this type of thing.

            I recruited people and would warn them in advance. Use it or not, you will be expected to clean it – not negotiable. I’ll admit – I thought he was a little crazy about it, but as the HR rep, I never once had to field a conversation about someone leaving their dirty dishes in the sink or making a mess of the fridge. And that was a wonderful thing.

      2. BRR

        We do the same thing for fridge cleanouts but I hate it because I don’t use the fridge. I specifically don’t use it because I wanted to not have to clean it because it’s disgusting. However because there are so many people I only have to do it something like one year so not the hill I want to die on.

        1. NJ Anon

          I used to work at a place where each department had a week per year to clean up the kitchen. Not bad, wipe down a couple of tables, whatever. But then, the powers that be decided each department would take turns cleaning the fridge. Uh, sorry. Don’t use it, ain’t cleaning it! They got so much push back, they dropped it.

    2. Jessica

      Yup. Sad, but it *does* create a perception if you are always doing it, even though those things you listed fall into the category of “necessary tasks to get the job done” or considerate human behavior. Not “women’s work.”

      Now, I have a habit of doing stereotypical male things, sometimes because it’s the considerate thing to do, sometimes because the job needs getting done and no one else is volunteering, sometimes just to be ornery if I feel I’m being treated a certain way because of my gender. Opening doors for both genders, lifting and moving and some handy work, stuff like that. Ah, the horrified looks I get from some people, men and women. Get over it!

    3. Lisbonslady

      Now I’m curious, as an admin who usually gets assigned these kinds of tasks by default (which I always hated) but also does a lot of other more interesting and complex work/projects, do you have any suggestions on how to get away from these kinds of tasks?

      1. fposte

        Same as any other situation where there are low-level tasks you don’t like in your job, I think–either have junior staff or get promoted.

      2. Natalie

        I’m not sure you can – these sorts of tasks are generally supposed to be under an admin’s purview.

        The only exception I can think of is offices with large admin teams, where they might be divisions based on experience.

      3. Jessica

        Yeah, admin typically is the catch-all for all kinds of valuable, but random, work, especially at smaller offices. They certainly do a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. And every job has their tasks that they don’t really love or are just tedious. Now I’m only speaking about the actual job-related tasks that may go along with your job description, like ordering supplies, meeting minutes, and maybe even keeping track of birthdays, if your office does that. But the other stuff listed above…no. I would certainly think that that is not your responsibility and can be shared equally among everyone (coffee, greeting cards, etc.)

      4. Snarkus Aurelius

        you asked the wrong person as I believe a) personal celebrations shouldn’t be acknowledged in the workplace but rather on personal time and b) people need to clean up after themselves because we’re not animals.

        If those two dreams could become a reality, then so many people’s lives would dramatically improve, but I know the chances of that happening are nil.

        That said, is it really so crazy to suggest to your boss that, people clean up after the,selves?

        1. Hearts On Fire

          Can I work for you? Because, like you, I believe we shouldn’t be celebrating things like birthdays, engagements/weddings, and babies in the office. I think it’s fine if coworkers want to celebrate with each other outside of the office (i.e. during lunch or on the weekends), but I don’t think it should be a part of the work day.

          My old team believed in going above and beyond for *some* people’s life celebrations…but always managed to forget other people’s. After I saw it happened a couple of times, I decided that these types of celebrations don’t belong in the workplace and to be fair, I’ve declined personal celebrations in my honor as well.

          And +1 to cleaning up after yourself! I can’t believe we actually have to articulate this/say it out loud, but we do.

          1. Z

            You spend more time at the office than most people do with their families. I don’t see why it’s unreasonable to celebrate birthdays or throw baby showers.

            1. Hearts On Fire

              That’s a good point. However, I think it’s unfair to only celebrate some people versus everyone (unless of course someone has said they want to opt out).

            2. Snarkus Aurelius

              Because rarely is it done fairly. You get new people who are forced to penny up for a gift they didn’t consent to for people they barely know. Then you get people on a tight budget forced to pay for gifts for people who make a zillion more dollars. Then you have people forced to pony up for a gift for an event they weren’t invited to. What’s worse is when done people from the office get invited and others don’t. Then you have birthday parties for some people but not others because they’re either forgotten or disliked by the party planners. What about the gay couples that go unacknowledged when they get married?

              Gifts should go down the food chain. Never up.

              I could go on but you get the point. As I said, doing it on personal time makes it more sincere and the people that do pony up do so freely.

              1. BananaPants

                We don’t do birthday celebrations but the managers tend to arrange for something (entirely voluntary) for employees who get married or have a baby. It’s usually just taking up a collection for a gift and having a card available to sign. The card and envelope will be kept in a folder at the desk of a specific admin and those who wish to contribute and/or sign the card are able to do so. For a first baby there’s usually also a small, informal gathering with a cake on a Friday afternoon to present the mom- or dad-to-be with the card and gift. I like it this way – it means that I’m able to kick in $10-20 for coworkers who I feel more of a connection with, and for people who I don’t really know at all I’ll just sign the card and not feel bad. No one ever makes any employee feel like they have to give money because no one is ever asked directly. We also sign cards for employees dealing with serious illness or injury, or who are recently bereaved.

                For a couple of coworkers who I’ve worked with for a long time or am friendly with outside of work, I like to knit a baby sweater or sew a blanket on my own time and give it to the coworker privately.

                1. Snarkus Aurelius

                  When I started making more money and became senior level staff, I put my foot down for the lower paid staff. The straw that broke my back? When a departing director, who made $90k, left DC to go back to the Midwest with his wife, who made six figures, our office mom insisted on a gift card for him like she always did. I said no how, no way on the front office staff who combined made less than this guy did. No way is someone who makes $24k and someone who makes $37k in DC who are also forced to live with a zillion roommates going to pony up for this director. Office mom backed off. I offered to pay their share of the gift and she said no.

    4. MaryMary

      We’ve gone ten rounds on meeting notes at my office. Because people were so dismal at keeping track of what was said (and promised) at meetings, we made notes an official expectation. We audit to make sure if you had a client meeting, there are notes. However, it is almost always the women who take notes. Women are generally the ones in the more junior role, which is a whole different problem. If there are no women in a meeting, there are either no note, terrible notes, or handwritten notes given to a woman to type. I think the issue is not valuing the work (see: having the need to mandate notes to begin with) and therefore not seeing it as worth their time.

    5. BananaPants

      I have an abysmal time taking down meeting minutes when I’m running a meeting, especially a teleconference with attendees on three continents. Complicating matters I’m often running the entire thing. So I’m trying to manage the meeting and contribute to discussion of complex technical issues, and it leaves no time to be typing up meeting minutes. After every meeting I have to go reconstitute from my written notes.

      My manager and manager’s manager often invite me to meetings to “drive” – to project the working file on my laptop and update it in real time so they can discuss the problem without having to handle the administrative tasks themselves. Sometimes I’ll be asked for my input but when I get invited to these meetings to “drive”, that’s not my primary purpose in attending. My (male) managers say it’s because I’m the most experienced engineer on the team, but suspiciously I’m also the only female on the team and I’m there to do admin tasks rather than as a real contributor.

    6. Anx

      What would you suggest if there are no plum assignments?

      I work in a ‘helping’ profession (it’s part time) at a school. I can have hours of down time a week (my active work requires facetime with students). One of the only ways I have been able to keep busy is to prepare learning guides and making them available. Do you think I should stop worrying about trying to be productive and just keep my head low instead?

      Whenever I try to start a new project there’s a lot of organizing involved.

  3. Verde

    #1 – they might hire great people, but they burn them out fast. I’ve heard (grapevine) that their average turnover is about 18 mos.

    #3 – just ticks me off. It’s not just work, it’s anything people consider domestic, like caring for children. The man who comforts his crying baby is “such a great dad” (gush, gush, gush), while the woman who does so gets…nada.

    1. BRR

      I wonder if people do it to have Amazon on their resume (same with google or apple)? I have worked at two well-known nonprofits and people use the name to springboard all the time.

    2. The IT Manager

      FYI: If a father takes care of his own children, that’s not baby sitting.

      And to make this work related, I once called out a co-worker who described caring for his sons while his wife was out as baby sitting and the other male co-workers were bit stunned. To be fair to them, though, I had never heard of any of them call taking care of their kids baby sitting. Child care is not women’s work, it’s parents’ work.

      1. esra

        Ugh I hate that. If they’re your kids, you aren’t babysitting. If it’s your house, you aren’t ‘helping’ with the housework.

        1. Jessica

          Yes! The helping with the housework is another one. Oh dear, that’s just called being a functioning adult.

        2. Iro

          Again going to descent here especially with stay at home spouses. While I totally agree that with two working adults, both should be contributing to the house and neither the man nor the woman is “helping” with the chores, if you are the working spouse but instead do the cleaning and cooking to give your spouse a break you are “helping” around the house because it’s not really your job anymore.

          1. Jessica

            I think that’s fair. When I stayed home, I viewed that as my job. I sucked at it, but it was part of my job description, for lack of a better phrasing. And in that case, it would be on par with a coworker temporarily helping with a project.

          2. Cat

            Sometimes, but I think that stuff that comes up in the evening (like watching kids) is not necessarily the “job” of the SAHM spouse.

          3. esra

            To me that implies the stay-at-home spouse has a 24/7 job. Even if you are a stay-at-home spouse and your day consists of cleaning, cooking, chores, what have you, when your partner is at home and does a chore they aren’t helping you, they’re taking care of your shared home.

          4. Artemesia

            Disagree. I have been SAHM while completing my degree, and twice worked while my husband was unemployed and later when he retired 3 years before me. so I have been in all the permutations of this. Just because you work outside the home doesn’t mean you have no home responsibilities. Even my CEO relative with the gazzillion bucks and SAHM wife baked pies at Thanksgiving. Of course the primary role for household falls on the stay at home partner — my husband did almost all the cooking when he retired before me for example. The goal is that each partner has roughly equivalent ‘free time’ — not working and not doing housework/parenting. But that % is rarely 0 and if he or she cooks a couple nights a week or does his or her own laundry, s/he is not ‘helping’ but is just contributing a share to maintaining the home.

            1. Jessica

              Yeah, I guess my statement came off as saying a SAHP should always do everything home-related. I don’t think that at all. I think it comes down to the days being structured differently and really, each parent is 24/7. SAHP stays home and works 8+ hours, working parent does their job for 8+ hours. Both parents combine and conquer at times where they overlap, in a perfect world. And I do like to think of it as a coworker relationship where support comes when needed, both people are flexible and understanding, and no one acts like “that’s not in my job description.”

            2. Iro

              Well my spouse sees it differently. He views maintaining the house as his job, and actually get’s upset if I do too much around the house on the weekends. In his mind, it’s his job to take care of the house so I can focus on my career. He actually wants to be a homemaker though. :)

              As an aside I don’t think income plays into these roles beyond “can you afford to have SAHS?”

      2. Jessica

        Parenting discussions seem to be such a minefield, especially at work. Your particular example has always been a huge trigger for me (not sure why) and it’s really hard for me not to go full-on snark at work when someone says something like that. Because really, it is their life and their personal choice and (typically) has nothing to do with their job performance, so it does not affect me at all. But, I’m human and have very strong opinions particularly about parenting not being a woman’s job, so I have had to seriously bite my tongue a few times at work and in life in general.

        1. Iro

          For the most part I agree, but I disagree when it comes to stay at home spouses. I’m blessed in that I have a stay at home spouse. When my spouse is away for a week plus, it DOES impact my work because it impacts my energy levels. I’m not use to having to do all the cooking and cleaning, so when it does randomnly crop up I’m a bit more likely to drop the ball at work.

          On the flip side, when both my spouse and I were working, I was able to function fine because spending 2 hours each evening cooking and clearning on top of a full days work became something I was conditioned to do.

          1. Jessica

            Exactly! That would be the part where it *would* affect your work. Perfect example. I have this discussion frequently as a single parent with my married parent friends where their spouse works a lot or has to travel frequently. As a single parent, I have my expectations of doing it alone, my security net of people I can call on, about three back-up plans, etc. When they are used to having two parents and operating like that, they say it is a real shock to be pretty much a single parent one week, and back to normal the next. Hadn’t considered that until I talked with them.

    3. Ed

      I love being the one to correct my buddies after having their first kid. You don’t “babysit” your own kids, ya dummy! And it’s not a heroic act to give up a Saturday night to stay home alone with your kids. It’s called parenting.

    4. Rebecca

      Haha, yes! I was just talking to a friend of mine who has three kids. Her husband took the kids to the grocery store (I think it was all three, maybe just the older 2). When he got home, he said three different women stopped him to tell him how brave he was to take all those kids to the grocery store and how lucky his wife was! Well, my friend does it all the time. Do you know how often she gets stopped and praised for it!

      1. Jessica

        Too funny. Another big one is when dads take their kids to the playground and get fawned over. Gag. I’m at the same playground with my kid… where’s my medal?!?

        It benefits no one when parenting is not viewed as an equal opportunity job.

    5. Stephanie

      Gawker (yeah, I know) had a whole series about Amazon’s bizarre workplace culture. Granted, their conclusions were all pretty much based on anecdata from people who voluntarily submitted stories (so probably people who really hated it or had particularly sensational stories).

      1. Anonsie

        I know a good deal of people who work for Amazon and I don’t know anyone who talks about the place glowingly, I suppose. My impression is that they are very high standards, very high pressure a lot of the time and even people who enjoy working there and want to stay forever are quick to tell you horror stories.

      2. A Non

        I have a family member who works for Amazon – it’s a HUGE company, so culture can vary widely. I haven’t heard any complaints about the culture from my relative, but they’ve also hit the jackpot with good bosses, which I think is 95% of what makes a job bearable.

      3. SLG

        My significant other has worked at Amazon for 2 years. Like any job it has its good days and bad days, but overall it’s been a positive experience and he’s not in any hurry to leave.

        1. SLG

          I should also note that it’s actually not accurate to say that most people who have an in-person interview at Amazon get the job (per that Fast Track article). My SO interviews plenty of people and plenty of them don’t get the job they’re interviewing for, including candidates who were referred by current employees. I realize plenty of people don’t want to work at Amazon; just wanted to note that detail here in case someone does want to work there and gets set up for disappointment by that article.

    6. Iro

      #3 While this is true, men also have to deal with a lot of criticism for being “domestic”.

      My husband is a stay at home spouse, and I can’t tell you the number of times people make disparaging comments like “You are going to spend your wifes money?” “Can’t you get a job?” “What are you a moocher?”

      My older relatives in particular say things like “Why do you let him live off you like that?” or if I mentioned needing to discuss a big purchase with my spouse first “Why? It’s YOUR money”. They don’t get that it is family funds and not my funds anymore.

      I also have to deal with people at work making infuriating comments like “You’ve trained him well” Excuse me? Trained? My husband is a human being not a dog to be conditioned and trained!

      Not trying to harp at you Verde. : ) It’s just that being a “domestic” man has a lot of draw backs. Did you know for instance there are people who think you should never leave children alone with their fathers? There’s actually a lot of counter culture father support groups cropping up that basically say “Yes, we take care of the kids and clean and that’s OK and doesn’t make me not a man”

      1. Helka

        I think what you’re talking about is the flip side of what Verde’s discussing — but they both come from the root problem of domestic & childcare duties not being “men’s work.”

        1. Jessica

          Yes! It harms everyone when one gender is expected to fill certain roles. I hate that men are chipped at for staying home, and I’ve witnessed this a lot with stay-at-home dads. Ugh. That attitude just reinforces that women are supposed to take care of kids and men are supposed to work.

        2. Anonsie

          Exactly. These are both the effects of a mindset that certain tasks and responsibilities are inherently gendered.

      2. Artemesia

        The year my husband was unemployed after a move for my job, my personal favorite awful moment like this was the next door neighbor who loved to say to him ‘I see you are a real ‘go getter’ you drive her to work and then go get her.’

      3. BananaPants

        Dear heavens, yes. My husband is a SAHD for now after a job loss and unsuccessful job hunt last year, and the disparaging comments are there. He gets a lot of “Mr. Mom” jokes (he’s Dad, not Mom), and comments like “Well, *I* worked two jobs so my wife could stay home” and “Why can’t you find a job?” I hear a lot of, “How long are you going to let him get away with not working?” – as if after a decade in the workforce he’s somehow choosing to be unable to land a job that will cover a daycare bill that’s bigger than our mortgage! Especially since this situation was not of our choosing, it’s disheartening. There are many people in our society, especially older people, who think that a family man not working = lazy, shiftless bum.

        Then he takes the toddler grocery shopping or both kids to Target and random strangers fawn over him for being such a hands-on father!

    7. Otter box

      I’ve also heard from people who worked at Amazon (corporate) that they demanded so much overtime and the workload was so overwhelming that they and their co-workers burned out pretty quickly and looked for work elsewhere.

      Of course this is anecdotal data with a very small sample size, so take it for what it’s worth.

    8. Steve G

      #1 raised my blood pressure, not because of what the article says, but because I can’t stand the insinuations of these few big companies that think they are so innovative that every time they do something it is so different and more innovative than other companies. I don’t know much about amazon b/c I’m in NY, but we have google, and I don’t get the snobbery/elitism of some of the people working there. Business operations are business operations, there are a lot of hard jobs in business in NYC, I don’t see how doing the same work at google makes it harder/more education/more rewarding (unless of course, you are in IT).

      There are lots of no-name companies that are innovative that are challenging to work at…..

    9. Alternative

      Re: Amazon. Yes, this is true. They may pay well, but they work people very hard and I hear the environment is cutthroat.

  4. Ed

    It’s hard to comment on the examples where people stay late to help (or don’t) and are treated differently because we are not there to personally witness it or the outcomes (though I certainly don’t doubt it is true). However, just about anyone who has ever worked anywhere can verify the examples of women being expected to plan office functions or clean the breakroom, make coffee, etc. Every day I watch men in the office make messes they walk away from or put an empty coffee pot back on the burner. Who do they think is going to do it? This obviously does not apply to all men but certainly a significantly larger percentage than women.

    I once had a VP at a Fortune 500 company tell me she wished there was a question when reference checking for “makes the next pot of coffee”.

  5. BRR

    Amazon’s compensation structure is also unique in that the max compensation an employee can make is somewhere around $160k. Everything above that has to be in Amazon stock. Just thought I would throw that fact out there.

  6. Suzanne

    Interesting with Amazon. I know a young man who was hired there a good 8 months before his graduation from college. The job will be in a different city so it isn’t a case of working while he finishes up nor is it a new plant. It does make me think they must have a great deal of turnover or they would not know they’d have a opening so far in advance.

    1. Stephanie

      I don’t think it’s that uncommon for new grad roles to be hired that far out. When I was dealing with on-campus recruiting, the bulk of job offer came in the fall for start dates the next summer or fall.

      1. Judy

        Certainly in engineering, when the economy was going well, most students had offers in November for June starts. Large companies committed to hiring a class of new graduates of X size. Even the company I started with out of school that had 1500 engineers and production people had a new hire class of 8-10 most years.

        1. De Minimis

          Same thing goes for bigger accounting firms…most do interviews in the fall for a start date the following summer, and sometimes later.

        2. BananaPants

          Yeah, as an engineering student graduating in better times, I had received and accepted a job offer for a June start by Christmas of my senior year. There were 16 of us graduating in my major and everyone had job offers or was committed to a graduate program by March or April. It was normal then – crazy to think that it was not even 15 years ago.

    2. JM in England

      Saw a TV documentarty some time ago about Amazon’s UK operations. The hardest job is as a warehouse picker, which according to the program, have to meet impossible deadlines. Also, the workers collected a point each time they were sick; first point was” free” but two brought a warning and three dismissal. Therefore it’s no surprise that the turnover is so high for this company……………..

      1. Iro

        Just. Wow. But honestly, from their hiring model, I’m not too surprised to hear it. When I read the model I thought, wow they are demanding A LOT from their applicants just for the privelage of being considered. That’s just rude.

        Also I think it’s crazy that this could be a feasible discussion with teh sick point policy.

        “So tell me why you were fired from Amazon?”

        “Well I was injured in a car accident that caused me to miss 3 consecutive days of work. Amazon has a 1 sick day absence a year policy. They didn’t make an exception in my case and I was let go.”

      2. Stephanie

        Yeah, I worked as a picker for a week and a half before I said “F*ck this” and quit. I injured myself doing it (yeah, no medical and I could tell they discouraged workers comp claims) and the warehouse was a really long commute, so I barely came out even commuting there. Yeah, the points thing is true—there’s a whole system (0.5 for being more than five minutes late, 1.5 for missing a day (regardless of the reason), etc). I think you could get up to 6 points before they fired you.

        The pickers are actually hired through a staffing agency (with some vague promises of being converted to an Amazon employee). I’m unsure how much of this translates to the corporate side-the picker jobs were pretty much warm body jobs. I took it because I had been out of work a long time and just needed some money and was having no traction with even underemployment gigs. I have heard the company overall is very numbers and metric obsessed. Funny thing, even though I quit with nearly no notice, the staffing agency was hounding me all last fall to come back and work since they needed extra people for the holiday season.

        It’s a pretty grueling job. It’s *really* physical (I walked about 12 mi one day, according to the pedometer on my watch) and you don’t get very many breaks. I think I got one 30-minute lunch (unpaid) and two 15-minute breaks for an 11-hour shift (which included transit time across a warehouse that’s the size of several football fields). I think you had to be able to lift up to 50 lbs (which I could do, but I started to hate people who ordered pet food online).

        I can confirm their rates are pretty insane. You did have some ramp-up time (I think a month to get to full pick speed), but your pick rate would get posted on the board for everyone to see (so there was the shame factor). You had a gun which would show the item to be found and then you had a countdown (which could be as little as 12 seconds) to go locate it, scan it, and put it in your cart. Also, people order a lot of sex toys online. What I found weirder were the people who ordered like two rolls of toilet paper or a box of cereal via Amazon.

        Still looking for full-time work, but I took a role in a warehouse of one of the shipping companies (I’m interested in that general area and industry). It is like night and day compared to Amazon since they let us do things like take breaks or listen to music on the floor and are way less numbers obsessed.

        1. Stephanie

          Oh, to add: The staffing agency hired you for like a six-month stint and fired you. And then I think there was some mandated cooling off period where you weren’t eligible to work again. So I met people there who were in this cycle of work at the warehouse, collect unemployment, work at the warehouse, repeat.

          Also, TSA has nothing on Amazon. I got patted down at the end of every shift, which was off the clock (and the basis for that Supreme Court case a few months back).

          1. BRR

            I was shocked at the outcome of that case and that it was unanimous (although Sotomayor did write a concurring opinion expressing the ruling should be narrow).

        2. ThursdaysGeek

          So, they spend a lot of thought on how to hire employees, and not so much on how to keep employees.

          BTW, if you’re the same Stephanie that posted about a year ago and said you were a mechanical engineer, I’m trying to contact you via the AAM LinkedIn group (under jobs). You may not want to work in ND, but if I had your contact info, then I could let you know when an opening comes up closer to me, which is not ND.

          1. Stephanie

            Oh! I’ll check that out now. I am having trouble finding the jobs page on the AAM LinkedIn Group on my phone (the LI app is weird), but email me at stephanie dot m dot jennings at gmail dot com.

        3. BananaPants

          There was a great piece in Mother Jones called “I was a warehouse wage slave” about work conditions in these fulfillment warehouses. It’s widely regarded to be about an Amazon facility, even though they’re careful not to say it outright.
          We live near the headquarters of a large and successful cable TV network and it’s the same sort of situation in that their entry level employees are paid a pittance and worked very hard, but they still get a zillion applications for each open position because of the cachet of working for this company.

        4. JM in England

          To elaborate on my comment, in the documentary an undercover reporter got a job as a picker. They confirmed, both through firsthand experience and consultation with an ocupational health specialist, that the expected picking rates were just not humanly possible to sustain over an entire shift.

          1. Stephanie

            People made rate at the one I was at (because they’d fire you over it eventually), but injuries were super, super common. The “Number of Days Since Last Injury” sign always said “0.”

        1. Stephanie

          Yeah, I can’t really shop there anymore because I know what’s behind the “Buy Now” button. That being said, I don’t really get on my soapbox if someone talks about shopping there. I don’t really see it as any different than shopping at Walmart.

          I think Amazon benefits from having the cachet of a tech company as well as having its warehouses semi-hidden in sort of depressed industrial areas in a handful of cities.

    3. Annie

      That’s really standard for entry-level engineering jobs. My college had a big career fair in September, you interview, and can get job offers by October or November. They usually pick smart people, then find them places to work, since they know they will have additional work.

    4. A Non

      Amazon is always looking for fresh talent. For a company that size it’s well worth the risk of having more people than you really need in order to pick up the cream of the crop of this year’s grads. If they’re really overmanned in one department, they’ve got lots of others they can shift people to.

  7. Iro

    The guys in my office all pretty much do their fair share of cleaning, but I’m working with guys all 35 and younger so not sure if that has anything to do with it.

    One thing I do notice though, there are a couple of women in the office who seem to notice messes and lack of supplies more. For example, I’ve NEVER seen a man send out one of those “gentle reminder” emails about cleaning or supplies.

  8. Mockingjay

    #3. This is my career to a T. In my current job as a technical writer, I am assigned to organize lunches and coffees, take meeting minutes (which consist of remembering people’s ‘homework’ assignments (“Bob, your report is due”) even though we have 3 interlinked systems to track tasks and due dates), and copy stuff. I have nearly 20 years of experience in systems engineering and software development. My male colleague with 3 years of writing experience gets the technical assignments.

    Recently, I asked to resume the technical assignments. I was verbally assaulted, accused of not being a team player and thinking I was too good to be doing this work, and then threatened to be thrown off the project.

    I’ve noticed this pattern more and more over the years. In the job prior to this one, I was accused of “doing too much” by my male supervisor and male team members, even though I had received multiple written accolades from the customer on the quality of my software documentation and how I managed the program’s document repository (nearly 10,000 documents). One guy thought he could do my job managing the repository better than I could, so I let him. Three months later I received a meek email stating that he’d be happy to let me resume my duties. No thanks.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Wow. WOW.

      Your current job sucks. Your boss sucks. Your teammates suck. I’m sorry you have to put up with this level of suck. I hope you can find a real job soon instead of a toy job.

  9. TOC

    My current workplace is over 80 percent women, and women hold all but one of the management-level positions. It’s a very uncommon ratio. It’s probably because of this that women (and men) in the office can do stereotypically-female things and not have it affect how they’re perceived. Higher-ups are just as likely to bring in baked goods, or participate in planning a party, as anyone else, and it doesn’t make them look less effective. Believe me, when it comes time to focus on work no one doubts that they’re tremendously capable. It’s also understood that it’s okay for some people to also be totally disinterested in these activities, female or male. We have female staff who are rabid sports fans, and wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt, and those “not female” characteristics are totally accepted as well.

    I’ve had many workplaces with different gender ratios, and it’s not necessarily any easier working in a female-dominated office. But I do appreciate that our office is full of people with a lot of interpersonal and emotional intelligence, because it makes it easier for us to be free to be ourselves at work without worrying about gendered hobbies/dress/personality leading people to take us less seriously.

  10. Purple Jello

    But I take awesome notes and write great meeting summaries. And I don’t want people to “forget” they were assigned something at a meeting.

    1. the gold digger

      I looove Confluence. My meeting notes (for the projects I am running) all go in there and I tag people with their tasks. There is no excuse (not that I work in that kind of group any more) for anyone not doing what they have agreed to do.

      1. fposte

        For a lot of jobs, because process management is part of the responsibility. A lot of jobs are cat herding, and an awesome cat herder is worth a lot.

  11. Eve Lynne

    What I don’t understand is why professional staffers are cleaning their office kitchens in the first place. Isn’t that why you pay cleaning staff? It seems a terrible wast of money and time all around. Of course if you drop a paper cup on the floor, you should pick it up. But wash cups? Clean the microwave? No way.

    1. Anonsie

      Ha ha ha, oh man. I could write you dissertation about this. Where I work the cleaning staff do not empty trash except in major common areas (like conference rooms) or touch anything in the kitchens, like microwaves. This was presented as a cost-cutting measure when they started it, which of course was met by a large chorus of groans because it really just means the lowest level staff now have to go clean up everything after the higher-level staff members.

      1. Eve Lynne

        I’m baffled how that could be seen as “cost cutting.” Surely a cleaning person is earning $9 an hour or less. Meanwhile, some IT specialist person is making $75 an hour or a proofreader is making $30 an hour (whatever roles, just for example here.) So it is a HUGE HUGE HUGE waste of money for any of those to be washing dishes, organizing the fridge, etc.

        If just one IT person at the above rate spends just 15 minutes a day (or even, lets say 2 people alternate who does this from day to day) cleaning up dishes or whatever after him/herself, that one person costs the company $4875 each year for those 15 minutes a day. Whereas the cleaning person will only cost the company $585 for the whole year. Multiply that to account for the side of the office, etc., and it can’t be any clearer.

        The last thing any company should want is its high-wage earners spending time on even a fraction of the duties they pay low-wage workers to do. That’s just sound business.

        (And of course, it should treat its cleaning staff well and pay them a fair wage.)

        1. BadPlanning

          The cost cutting is that if your employees are salaried exempt then the company probably gets not-as-great cleaning “for free” as the employees are probably taking an extra 15 minutes above their normal “real” job to do the extra tasks. If you didn’t finish Awesome Report because you had to empty the garbage, you look like a bad employee because you didn’t prioritize. If you didn’t do the garbage because you finished Awesome Report, you also look like a bad employee, too good to help out. So you finish Awesome Report and stay another 10 minutes to do garbage.

          It comes back around though, when you end up with mice and fruit flies….Not that I’ve seen this happen…

        2. Anx

          In some industries and workplaces, though, the cleaning and admin staff is more expensive than the professional staff.

          A part-time professional with no benefits would still have some down time where they need to take a break from mental work. I know I personally enjoy having a few minutes of zen time focusing on tasks like that.

          I and many of my friends work in schools. A post-doc may make less than the custodian.

    2. Elizabeth West

      In a lot of offices where I worked, the cleaning thing was about mostly geared toward people tidying up after themselves. At this job, we have people who clean the office. You can leave your cup in the sink and they’ll throw it in the dishwasher. I mostly do just to get the tea stains out of it, but I do my own lunch dishes. Occasionally, I’ll make coffee for my coworkers if I know some of them are staying later and it’s very low. Or I’ll dump the dregs, rinse the pot, and turn off the burner if I notice no one has been in the break room for a while. But we ALL do that. It’s not just the women.

      I did have one job where I was expected to clean the kitchen, but the job description stated that up front, it was an administrative support position and not higher level staff, and my coworkers were pretty good about not being total pigs.

    3. Natalie

      I’m in commercial property management, so we pay the cleaning staff for a lot of office buildings. In most of the markets my company works in, kitchen cleaning is not included other than emptying the trash & recycling.

      1. Eve Lynne

        Given how much money your tenant-clients could save, it sound like your company could benefit financially by convincing them that they need kitchen cleaning services, too, as an add-on to what your properties can offer. I can’t imagine many who would say “No thanks, I’d rather spend thousands more each year to have my high-paid staffers do it.”

    4. NE

      You said it! I’m your hypothetical IT specialist. I spent a half hour yesterday taking out recycling. It’s their money, but it just seems like a huge waste.

  12. abby

    I’ve always worked for small companies and we never had a cleaning staff. Instead, we had a cleaning service; if we were lucky, the service came nightly. One place, only once per week. There is definitely a range of prices depending on what they do and the thinking is that it is much cheaper for staff to clean up after themselves than to pay a service for much more than the basics.

    For bigger companies that can hire a cleaning staff, I agree it is cheaper to let them do it.

    1. Eve Lynne

      Ah, well I can see if they are only coming once a week (not a daily or nightly clean up) that would be difficult, as it’s common for such services to charge, say, a 4-hr minimum for a site visit—and it shouldn’t take 4 hours to clean a regularly-maintained kitchen. But if they were coming in every day, adding on an extra hour to that time would free up comparably high-paid staff to do their professional work, instead of cleaning out the coffee maker.

      (And again, pay and treat your cleaning people well – foremost because that’s the decent thing to do. But also—especially for a night crew—they tend to (inadvertently or intentionally) learn all sorts of things about your company/organization, from the trash you forget to shred to witnessing late-staying staffers getting up to, er, mischief.)

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