Last month, Amazon’s market cap skyrocketed to $247.6 billion, making it the world’s most valuable retailer. Yet the bigger news has been Amazon’s “toxic” work culture; a recent article in The New York Times, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” drew close to 6,000 comments. One former employee wrote:
“As someone who worked at Amazon headquarters in Seattle for over 5 years I can tell you that it is an obscenely stressful place to work. I wouldn’t wish a job at Amazon on my worst enemy. Everyone I knew was on drugs for depression, drank too much and had severe sleeping problems — forget about having any life outside of Amazon, 75-plus hour work weeks are the norm. It’s absolutely brutal. I didn’t even realize how disgustingly abusive it was until I left.”
It’s easy to blame an employer for our own workaholic tendencies. And yes, it’s easy to get caught up in the 24/7 environment of an addictive work culture.
However, we are each responsible for our own quality of life and the choices we make.
Our society often encourages us to be workaholics. We praise employees who send emails at midnight. We prioritize the case, the deal, or the money over our own lives. We tell ourselves we’ll cut back on the travel or the hours in another year or two. We often feel like we are winning some imaginary game.
We can pay a terrible price for these workaholic tendencies. We can jeopardize important relationships with spouses, children, friends and community. We may feel disconnected from ourselves. Our poor eating habits and lack of exercise may adversely impact our physical and mental health. We forget how joyful life can be. We try to soothe ourselves with luxuries, often leaving us feeling empty and sad.
You, however, are incredibly fortunate: You have a choice. If you’re reading this article, you CAN afford to leave a toxic company, industry or career. Stop measuring your success in financial terms; put your quality of life first. Do something new, especially when you can afford the luxury of earning less.
Don’t lead a life you wouldn’t wish on someone else. Do something different.