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Amazon Software Engineer Work-Life Balance

Posted on 
August 12, 2021
|
by 
Team Interview Kickstart

While maintaining a proper work-life balance might be a tall order, Amazon makes it a lot easier with its employee-friendly policies and unbelievable career prospects. The company generously provides a lot of paid time-offs to help employees maintain a healthy Amazon software engineer work-life balance

According to a 2018 State of American Vacation study by the US Travel Association, nearly 52% of the US workforce have unused vacation days at year-end. Also, as per a study by the UCL, white-collar employees working more than 3 hours of overtime have a 60% higher chance of developing health-related issues. The company takes care of all these fronts to promote a healthy Amazon AWS work-life balance and foster employee retention. 

This comprehensive guide will take you through the various nuances of Amazon AWS work-life balance to give you a peek into the quality of work-life balance Amazon software engineers enjoy. 

  • What Does It Mean to Have a Good Work-life Balance?
  • What Does Work-life Balance Look Like at Amazon?
  • How Does Amazon Promote Work-life Balance?
  • What Do Amazon Employees Say About Its Work-life Balance?
  • Employee Satisfaction at Amazon
  • Ways to Improve Work-life Balance for a Software Engineer at Amazon
  • Summary
  • FAQs

What Does It Mean to Have a Good Work-life Balance?

Work-life balance plays an integral role in the performance metrics of employees. Companies promoting strong work-life balance enjoy significantly higher retention rates. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance lets employees enjoy their lives outside of work to come stronger and saner once they tackle the work responsibilities in front of them. This not only increases productivity but also mitigates conflicts between employees and management.

Some other key factors determining ideal work-life balance are:

  • Social support: Amazonians claim that getting social support from family and friends does play a part in leading a happy and healthy life overall. Having family and friends that you can turn to when work-life becomes challenging is therapeutic and nourishing.  A supportive social circle can really facilitate a healthy Amazon work-life balance for software engineers.
  • Workplace quality: Work environment, management behavior, employee treatment, and more also matter for a healthy work-life balance for software engineers. A comfortable workspace with the right equipment and furniture are minor elements but can certainly make a difference as well. Meals and free food are also something companies can choose to provide for their employees as an added perk.
  • Job satisfaction: Although working at Amazon comes with its perks, job satisfaction plays a crucial role in maintaining productivity levels. Amazonians claim that job satisfaction is essential in their quest to attain a better work-life balance. Apparently, Amazon is constantly looking for ways to keep their employees engaged, satisfied, and fulfilled overall.
  • Finances: Compensation is always a huge component in any career.  Lucrative salary and incentives encourage employees to perform better. Amazon’s employees report that they feel more motivated to work and do their best due to Amazon’s lucrative packages. PTO provisions are also a huge bonus. 

What Does Work-life Balance Look Like at Amazon?

Jeff Bezos, in an interview, said that he believes work-life balance is a debilitating term because there is segregation between responsibilities. He insists that work and life should work in tandem as two integrated parts, rather than finding a balance between the two alternatively.

Amazon Work Culture

Amazon has a competitive work culture that promotes excellence and innovation. Former and present employees report that AWS (Amazon Web Services) division is void of office politics. There are, thus, lesser chances of managers underplaying their employees. The department works with companies, individuals, and governmental institutions by providing APIs and other cloud-based solutions. 

However, if there is any client-facing role in your job description, you will need to be available for calls regularly during your working hours. Amazon AWS work-life balance may not be the best in this case, but the prospect of making a positive impact as a software engineer is immense and certainly worth it. 

According to former and present employees, Amazon’s Devices team has an excellent work-life balance. There are little to no requirements for on-call responsibilities. It is also a fast-growing division, thereby providing software engineers an opportunity for setting a flourishing career trajectory.

Another team with a thriving work culture is Amazon’s Alexa or its AI department. It works on virtual assistance, AI technology, and more. 

The presence of constant challenges can be a boon in disguise and help one develop a proper Amazon work-life balance.

Recommended Reading: How Hard Is It to Get a Job at Amazon?

Amazon Work Hours

Unlike some of its competitors, Amazon has a 10.5 x 4 work schedule. Although Amazon provides a long list of benefits to both experienced employees and freshers alike, the lack of variation in the working schedule is a common concern though not entirely a big deal.

Flexibility at Amazon

4 working days give employees a chance to explore their other interests in life. Eloise Smith, Amazon’s group creative director for cross-channel marketing, is also making her debut as an author of a children’s book. 

She gives credit to her Amazon software engineer work-life balance for this feat. Indeed, having three full days a week to spare for your other interests can go a long way in not just fostering relaxation and leisure but maximizing full human potential as well.

Remote Work Options at Amazon

Amazon prioritizes employee convenience and health, both physical and mental. The tech giant was the first to declare work-from-home policies when the pandemic hit in 2020. Benefits like these helped the company cross more than 1 million employees worldwide, including seasonal workers. Moreover, Amazon also reported investing nearly $11 million to help businesses integrate and work with a WFH system seamlessly. 

Recommended Reading: Understanding Remote Software Engineering Jobs

Project Deadlines at Amazon

When there are urgent projects to complete, employees may have to put in extra hours to help the company bring order to chaos. All other companies do experience such crises and bottlenecks, and it’s only right for employees to support the pillar that’s holding them up.  Project deadlines at Amazon generally vary depending on the department.

How Does Amazon Promote Work-life Balance?

Amazon ranked second in the Forbes World’s Best Employers list of 2020

Employee reviews of Amazon on Glassdoor reveal that some departments lack the required work-life balance. However, the majority claim a host of benefits that helps them achieve an ideal Amazon work-life balance for software engineers

These benefits include:

  • Paid Time Off (PTO): Amazon offers 15 days initially to all its software developers and other warehouse employees. It increases to 20 days after completing a year. Once employees complete 6 years at the company, it goes up to 25 days annually. Employees can use this to take a break or spend more time with their families. Most Amazonians claim in their reviews that PTO policies help them have better productivity at work. Furthermore, it also helps them enjoy better Amazon work-life balance and increase employee loyalty.
  • Maternity leaves: All coding engineers and other employees at the company are eligible for a 10-week maternity leave, including a 4-week paid leave pre-birth. Employees report on Glassdoor that it is a well-planned strategy and enables Amazonians to transition better and avoid overwhelm. 
  • Paternity leaves: Amazon provides paid leaves to secondary caregivers as well. While many organizations partially allow it, Amazon is one of the few companies that offer equal paid leaves to male and female employees. 
  • Remote work: As per a spokesperson, Amazon has extended complete remote working provisions till June 30th of 2021. However, hybrid work culture will continue to exist to help employees enjoy more time with family. According to Wissam Kazan, Chief Technology Officer at Amazon, he gets more time with his family now than he did before joining this company. Freedom to work remotely means more flexibility and convenience, which increases productivity as well.
  • Adoption assistance: Amazon provides adoption assistance, including clinic, doctor, and other miscellaneous fees to deal with the added expenses of adoption. This considerably reduces stress and really shows how Amazon always goes the extra mile to look after their employees.
  • Tuition reimbursement: Amazonians can avail of a waiver of nearly 95% on their tuition fees for higher studies or other specialization courses. This mitigates the need to work overtime or work two jobs to pay the tuition fees. It is also another perk that makes Amazon work-life balance better than most of its competitors.

Recommended Reading: How to Get Software Engineering Jobs at Amazon

What Do Amazon Employees Say About Its Work-life Balance?

Work-life balance at Amazon majorly depends on the particular division and team. While new coding engineers need to put in the extra hours to catch up to their peers, experienced software developers have a healthy work-life balance if they know how to manage their time well.

A review states that an SDE2 software engineer at Amazon works for less than 8 hours a day for most of his/her 3-year career. Employees get to enjoy an ideal Amazon work-life balance as they are not in contact with the office in the evenings or weekends, allowing them enough time off from work.

Most employees admit that there are days where many need to render a long shift. But they also claim it is only reasonable and realistic as most other companies have such days too. But definitely, the other perks which Amazon provides are better than most of its competitors. This alone makes Amazon work-life balance for software developers much more commendable. 

Employee Satisfaction at Amazon

As per a study by Kununu in 2019, a Vienna-based employer rating website, Amazon employee satisfaction levels exceed the national average in 12 categories out of the 18 categories that Kununu considered in the survey. Some notable categories include gender equality, career development, work culture, diversity, and compensation.

Amazon’s gender equality rating stands highest among all at 3.99 on a scale of 0-5. In comparison, leadership support rating stands at 3.35 and communication at 3.34-- the least among the company scores in these 18 categories.

Amazon also surpassed two of its biggest competitors – Target and Walmart in these ratings. While Target scored more than Amazon in only 8 categories, Walmart falls short of Amazon on all fronts.

There is also a gradual increase in the employee approval ratings of Amazon. It went from 58% to 66% in the last 12 months as per Kununu.

Ways to Improve Work-life Balance for a Software Engineer at Amazon

While Amazon does its part to help its employees feel satisfied with their jobs, there are some things that you can do to ensure work does not take over your personal life. Here are some tips:

1. Work on your strengths

To achieve a proper Amazon AWS work-life balance, it is crucial to work on your strengths, whether you are a coding engineer or a software engineer. Working hard to achieve higher efficiency and developing better deliverables need to be your objectives to succeed at this prestigious FAANG company.

2. Prioritize tasks 

Sorting daily tasks according to their nature of urgency is paramount to enjoy an ideal Amazon work-life balance. Not all tasks are made equal, and depending on your role, it’s important to tackle the urgent and important tasks efficiently. 

You can follow Brian Tracy’s ABC method. This works by listing all the tasks you need to do. Mark the most urgent or important ones as A. If there are a lot of priority tasks, you can mark them as A1, A2, A3 and so on. Type A tasks are to-dos that you ‘must’ do. If you don’t complete them within the day, grave consequences will follow. B tasks are less important and there’s no major consequence if you don’t complete them within the day though they’re still important. C tasks are ‘nice to do’ but only complete them when there are no more A and B tasks on the list. You can adopt your own approach as long as you ensure that the right tasks are tackled first.   

3. Maintain a schedule

Make a schedule and stick to it. This makes it easier for you to keep a proper work-life balance. Amazonians claim that failing to stick to the plan can be detrimental to your mental health, especially when work pressure is on. Though the thrill and fun of the job can make up for it, if you don’t have proper routine and let disorder swamp your schedule, you can’t make the most of your awesome job at Amazon

4. Plan your finances

Unplanned finances are a cause of stress. And this results in decreased work rate and job satisfaction. Planning your finances and other investment plans increases a sense of security and can overall help you succeed at work and in life.

5. Be realistic

While Amazon is always shooting for glory, it is crucial to set realistic goals for you if you are working or planning to work as a software engineer at this company. It’s easy to be too optimistic, which sometimes only leads to failed expectations and disappointments. Always be realistic as to what you can do and cannot do. If not, you are not only compromising your well-being but the company as well.

6. Take time off

Adequate PTO is available for you to have a healthy Amazon work-life balance. Make sure that you take time to give yourself the break you deserve. Going for a vacation alone or with family or friends can help you unwind and come back stronger and more productive.  

7. Avoid mental burnout

Mental burnouts result in poorer work output. Working for long hours at a stretch can fatigue one’s mind and significantly decrease productivity.

8. Develop time management skills

An essential requirement to continue excelling as a coding engineer at Amazon is your ability to manage time efficiently. While it is, in a way, noble to devote a lot of your time for the company that’s taking good care of you,  it is also necessary to spend time doing other things you enjoy outside of work No adequate breaks and long working hours are detrimental to your health and to your career growth at Amazon or any other FAANG and Tier-1 company. 

10. Learn on the job 

Jeff Bezos believes in “hiring and developing the best” to maintain its rankas one of the top retail companies in the world. Amazon, as a result, is a step ahead in responding to challenges in terms of data, market fluctuations, and even public demands. Amazon work-life balance echoes this motto and reflects Jeff’s resistance to bureaucracy and wasteful expenditure. 

11. Keep your fundamentals strong

The Amazon CEO insisted in an interview that one can work hard, long, or smart, but if he/she is working at Amazon, the person cannot choose 2 out of 3. He believes Amazonians need to work differently from companies like Microsoft. Many interviewees report Jeff claimed that it is not easy to work at Amazon in the interview itself. It only reflects how the company prioritizes the fundamentals of success and is not hiding its ambition of being an absolute industry leader.

Recommended Reading: Amazon Interview Process Guide 2021

Summary

To conclude, Amazon's work-life balance for software engineers and developers meets employee expectations as per most reviews. Employees are sometimes pressured by deadlines, but that happens in virtually all workplaces.  Working extra hours when necessary is also often unavoidable. However, Amazon is a great place overall to launch and grow a career as a software engineer. When the leadership is strong and the work culture is healthy, that’s when employees feel most empowered and equipped to contribute and soar high.

FAQs

1. Is the work environment at Amazon stressful?

Although some managers push their employees to perform better, pushing on and giving it your all will be worth it as your career will easily take off if you welcome mentorship, feedback, and meaningful challenges. The work environment also largely depends on the team and division you operate in.

2. Are there any interview prep courses available for Amazon technical interviews?

There are quite a few online platforms that provide interview prep courses that can help aspirants, fresher, and experienced candidates fare better at technical interviews for FAANG companies.

If you’re looking for guidance and help with getting your prep started, sign up for our free webinar. As pioneers in the field of technical interview prep, we have trained thousands of software engineers to crack the toughest coding interviews and land jobs at their dream companies, such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and more!

Sign up now!


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