Amazon has allegedly found a controversial way to cut its workforce in ‘silent’

An Amazon employee is accusing the company of allegedly dodging negative press associated with layoffs and skipping out on providing severance packages by “silently sacking” its employees to encourage them to leave the company rather than firing them.

In a recent blog post, Justin Garrison, who is a senior developer at Amazon Web services, claims that the company has been reducing costs by making employees “miserable” at the company.

Related: Leaked document reveals Amazon’s return-to-office mandate just got nastier

“The negative press associated with layoffs wasn’t good. But the most effective way to reduce operational expenses was to get rid of all the expensive people,” wrote the employee in a blog post. “How could they force people to leave without severance packages or en masse? Making them miserable and silently sacking them.

“Silently sacking” is another phrase for “quiet firing” which is when management creates a work environment that has deteriorating conditions such as overwork, stalled promotions, little support from management etc. in order to push employees to resign from positions rather than firing them. This tactic could cut costs for a company as they would no longer be obligated to provide employees with severance  packages when they resign.

In the blog post, Garrison claims that Amazon started silently sacking its employees when it enforced its return-to-office mandate last year which caused employees to “leave in droves.” He also alleges that the company has been “burning out” employees.

“Amazon keeps lowering their operating costs their earnings go up and stock rises,” wrote Garrison. “At the cost of burning out everyone doing the work.”

He also claims in the post that he was informed in September 2023 that his team at the company was being “eliminated” and that the company allegedly wanted him and his team to remain at Amazon. He claims that he was told that they would be provided a severance package once they “exhausted other options,” which included finding another job at the company which he alleges all had “lower pay, lower title, RTO, or various other things.”

“It was clear they wanted us to take a different role we could quit later,” wrote Garrison. “My management wanted to retain the headcount, but couldn’t do layoffs.”

Garrison claims that he has been asking management for an update on his employment and severance package for months and was “either ghosted or given a variety of excuses.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to TheStreet’s request for comment.

Andy Jassy, CEO of web services at Inc., speaks during the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in San Francisco, Calif. on April 19, 2017. 

Bloomberg/Getty Images

Amazon has laid off roughly 20,000 employees in 2023. Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon, mentioned in an update that announced a round of layoffs in January last year that the changes will help the company “pursue our long-term opportunities with a stronger cost structure.”

Many large companies in 2023 made headlines for laying off employees en masse such as Hasbro, Spotify, etc. 

Layoffs in general can be a large expense for companies as many provide those fired employees with severance packages. For example, Microsoft took a $1.2 billion hit due to layoffs and other restructuring efforts in its second-quarter earnings last year.

Also, in December, Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf warned investors that the company will face a large severance expense in the fourth quarter as it is planning an unknown amount of layoffs in 2024.

“We’re looking at something like $750 million to a little less than a billion dollars of severance in the fourth quarter that we weren’t anticipating, just because we want to continue to focus on efficiency,” said Scharf at a Goldman Sachs conference in New York.

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