Jeff Bezos says Amazon needs to do a better job for employees in final shareholder letter

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Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff BezosMark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

In his final letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday laid out a broad vision for the future of the company, committing to extend Amazon’s famous obsession over its customers to the same level of care for its employees.

Bezos pointed to the recent union election outcome at one of Amazon’s Alabama warehouses as an example of why the company needs to address challenges within its workforce. Last week, Amazon secured enough votes to defeat a historic unionization drive at its Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse, which if successful, would have represented the first union at a U.S. Amazon facility.

“While the voting results were lopsided and our direct relationship with employees is strong, it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees – a vision for their success,” said Bezos, who will step down as CEO in the third quarter, turning the helm over to Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services. Bezos will transition to executive chairman of Amazon’s board.

Amazon has famously held a core set of leadership principles, chief among them being “customer obsessed.” In the future, Bezos said he wants Amazon to do the same for its employees.

“Despite what we’ve accomplished, it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for our employees’ success,” Bezos said. “We have always wanted to be Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company. We won’t change that. It’s what got us here. But I am committing us to an addition. We are going to be Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work.”

You can read the full letter below:

To our shareowners:

In Amazon’s 1997 letter to shareholders, our first, I talked about our hope to create an “enduring franchise,” one that would reinvent what it means to serve customers by unlocking the internet’s power. I noted that Amazon had grown from having 158 employees to 614, and that we had surpassed 1.5 million customer accounts. We had just gone public at a split-adjusted stock price of $1.50 per share. I wrote that it was Day 1.

We’ve