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Controversial Business Moves: Have Amazon Gone Too Far?

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Amazon are a marketplace giant, and their combination of a huge choice of products, low prices, and fast delivery options have seen them wipe the floor with their competitors. It’s even claimed that whole industries have been almost wiped out by the online retailer’s presence. But, where there is brilliance, there is often also controversy. Amazon is no exception. Let’s take a look at some of their most controversial business moves of late!

Packaging

Let’s start with what is perhaps the one thing that we’ve all experienced when shopping with Amazon that has left a sour taste in our mouths: packaging. Now, we live in a world where we’re becoming increasingly aware of the detrimental effects that human activity is having on our planet. One of the main man-made problems posing a threat to our beloved Earth? Waste. We use so many products on a day to day basis that are seen as disposable, and we often throw many products and most packaging away after just a single use. The UK produces around 30.5 million tonnes of waste every single year. Within the EU, people produce around half a tonne of waste per person, and with over 500 million inhabitants, this figure quickly mounts up. America is said to produce 250 million tonnes of garbage on an annual basis. So, when many of us shop, we expect responsible large-scale businesses to use as little packaging as possible and to, preferably, send our purchases in recyclable materials. Sure, this may cost a little more and take a little more time, after all, you’ll have to pick packaging options logically rather than throwing every item into the first box that catches the supplier’s eye, but surely it’s worth it. It really isn’t all too surprising that Amazon causes outrage on a regular basis when they have been reported to send items as small as a phone charger in a box large enough for your small kids and cats to make a fort from. Now, the company has tried to justify this behaviour by saying that they optimise for the whole rather than the individual. Theorist Alexander Savin noted on his twitter feed that “Amazon uses a complicated software system to determine the box size that should be used based on what else is going in the same truck and the exact size of the cargo bay. It is playing an automated Tetris with the packages. Sometimes it will select a larger box because there is nothing else that needs to go out on that specific truck, and by making it bigger, it is using up the remaining space, so items don’t slide around and break. This actually minimises waste and is on the whole q (sic) greener system. Even if for some individual item it looks weird.” While this is an interesting theory, the tweet received all sorts of lash back from people refuting the theory. Many believe that the genuine reason for entirely environmentally unfriendly packaging is because Amazon promises such fast delivery that workers have just a matter of seconds to grab the nearest box or packaging to get the item out on time.

Drone Delivery

Again, convenience has come hand in hand with another complaint for the big bosses at Amazon. Sure, we’re all now familiar with Amazon Prime, a service which offers guaranteed next day delivery on a whole host of items. But have you heard of Amazon Prime Air? This is a fully autonomous system where a drone (otherwise known as an aerial vehicle) without a human pilot can deliver goods to customers within 30 minutes or less of completing their order. Sounds like something from the future, right? While this service hasn’t yet been launched by the company, it is in development and trial, and Amazon hopes that one day seeing an Amazon drone delivering goods by air will be as common a sight as seeing one of their delivery trucks travelling down the highway. People, expectedly, have a lot of questions surrounding the practice. They want to know how heavy the goods that this method could deliver can be (the answer, so far, is five pounds), where they are testing (there are currently trials in the United States, United Kingdom, Austria, France, and Israel), and whether weather will affect the service (the company claim that they aim to operate in daylight when there are low winds, there’s good visibility, and a lack of rain, snow, or ice). Perhaps the most important issue on our minds, however, is how Amazon intends to navigate the airspace in each given country, as drones are a risk to planes. This is still being negotiated, so perhaps it will be a while before we really do see these plans come into practice and public use.

Live Purchases

Perhaps the most recent controversy associated with this retail giant is its delivery of live animals. The company has been slammed by animal activists and many consumers alike for offering home delivery of live animals such as lobsters and crabs. Not only is the method of boiling these creatures alive for consumption cruel in and of itself and something that shouldn’t be promoted at all (nevermind in the home and left to the hands of inexperienced and unprofessional cooks), they can also face the cruel fate of being left in boxes for days as they make their way from supplier to consumer. This is a sad case of sentient creatures being treated like commodities on a whole new level. Many customers have since cancelled their accounts completely, stating that they will not return to Amazon until they cease this cruel practice.

As you can see, Amazon is no stranger to controversy, and some of the decisions that they have made in their process of trying to meet the mass market’s needs and expectations really have backfired. However, where there is a complaint, there is room for improvement, and hopefully, they will begin to take customer feedback into account, ensuring that their business becomes as eco-friendly, safe, and cruelty-free as possible!

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Managing creative employees

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Managing creative employees

Designers, journalists, photographers are talented and not ordinary people. At the same time, you can often hear that they can be easily distracted. But if someone complains about the uncontrollability of the creative employees, one simply does not know how to organize them.

How to manage creative employees

Designers, journalists, photographers are talented and not ordinary people. At the same time, you can often hear that they can be easily distracted. But if someone complains about the uncontrollability of the creative employees, one simply does not know how to organize them. Find out how to organize your creative employees in the best way and without unnecessary stress following the tips from these 10-page papers.

The method of the stick doesn’t work

Formally, creative people are no different from all others. And informally, of course, the difference is obvious. The geniuses have other motivators. For example, for them recognition is more important than money. A free schedule is more comfortable than working from a call to a call.

So, it’s advisable to rather choose the right leadership style to live in peace and harmony. In the scientific literature, four types of management are distinguished:

  • Authoritarian. When everything in the company occurs at the behest of the head, and the subordinates are obedient executors.
  • Market. Relations in the team are built on the principle “you do something for me and I’ll do something for you.” This is kind of entrepreneurial approach.
  • Bureaucratic. The company has clear regulations, management orders are not discussed, and all employees are disciplined and executive.
  • Democratic (humanistic). This is a paradise for creative workers. The staff of the company is one big team, where everyone is given chances to realize their ideas, even the most grandiose ones.

Follow your line

The main words to the manager is to become the creative leader himself. However, it makes no sense to create without knowing the measure and purpose. Therefore, top managers of innovative companies adhere to the following principles when running a team:

  • Self-management. Provide employees with a field for activities, not pushing in their strict framework, but also avoiding arbitrariness.
  • Personal responsibility for the result. Do so that every member of the team understands that the success of the project depends on it. Praise because creative people like approval very much.
  • Freedom. Every employee has the right to work as he likes. Work from home, at night or daytime – in fact it’s not important. The main thing is the result.
  • Tasks for interests. A routine is the most terrible word for creatives. They are bored sitting for a long time in one place, doing the same thing. A maximum of three years, and the true creator will run away, even if you give him free breakfast and lunch. So periodically change everything: tasks, areas of responsibility, and projects.

Looking for talents

In order to prevent the search for personnel from turning into a torture, one should immediately pay attention to those candidates who are equally capable of working both in the office and in public transport. And at the same time to give out unique intellectual products that did not exist before, absolutely viable.

During the interview, offer the applicant a simple test. For example, to come up with as many options for non-standard use of a paper clip within one minute. The candidate writes the answers on a letterhead, which is then analyzed.

Work environment

It’s more interesting for the creative person to work in a circle of like-minded people. It is not necessary for this to open super offices where you can ride bikes or lie on bear hides.

The creative environment is a mood, a climate, a kind of comfort. Everything will turn out fine if you take into account some features in time:

  • Create friendly relations. It is very good when you can communicate freely the company, without hierarchy, consult all issues directly with top managers and take the initiative.
  • Support the staff. In a good working climate, ideas and proposals are received with interest and are welcomed by leaders of all ranks. Often arrange brainstorming so that everyone can feel the team spirit and positive attitude.
  • Demonstrate trust and be open. When each person puts forward ideas and is not afraid to express his opinion, the emotional burnout of staff will not overtake.
  • Joke so there will be ease, spontaneity, and a friendly atmosphere.
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The best ways to protect your business against financial fraud

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financial fraud

Businesses of all types can fall victim to fraudulent activity, from the smallest of enterprises to the largest multinational organisations. Financial fraud is all-too-common and can really impact on the image and reputation of any business. But, there are steps you can take to protect your business against fraud, and here’s how.

Keep a closer eye on your accounts

You need to keep a close eye on your accounts because, if you don’t know your company’s figures, how are you going know whether or not you have become a victim of financial fraud? Criminals are clever and they will be able to steal large sums of money from you over time, without it making a noticeable difference to your daily working operations straight away.

One of the best ways to stay on top of this is to invest in a software solution that allows you to keep track of your finances at-a-glance whenever and wherever you want to see them. The easier it is to access your accounts, the easier you’ll find it to monitor what’s coming in and out and spot any transactions that don’t look right.

Employee background checks

These days you need to be vigilant so consider running background checks on potential employees who will be handling money for your business, whether this is dealing with cash or financial records. Having employees that you can trust is the first step to combating potential fraud – they are, after on the front line against fraud.

Firewalls and virus protection

Make sure all your computers, including the ones used for work outside of the office, are fully equipped with the latest firewall and virus protection software. Malware and spyware are ones to consider as these could be used by fraudsters to trick their way into your systems.

Change passwords

Have your employees regularly change their login passwords. Passwords should ideally be changed every 60 to 90 days and have at least eight or more characters featuring upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers. Again, this is all about making it harder for people to hack into your systems and access your private financial data.

Keep company information safe

Your business requires you to hold information such as employee identification numbers, tax, wage and other sensitive information. This should be encrypted and safely stored, with access only given to those who require it for their jobs.

You should also keep important paperwork such as checks protected and in a secure location that is not easily accessible to the wrong hands. When it comes to disposing of any company documents, shred them. Being cautious with your business information is an important step to preventing fraud. If you give nothing away, there’s nothing for fraudsters to latch onto.

Protecting your business against financial fraud should be an important priority. Take it seriously, follow the steps above and give yourself the best possible chance of staying safe.

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Francisco Reynés: “Naturgy wants to play an important role in Europe”

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Francisco Reynés Naturgy

Francisco Reynés, executive chairman of Naturgy (formerly Gas Natural Fenosa), has mentioned the great value of the energy multinational company in the reorganisation of the sector in Europe. He has also expressed that they are open to corporate acquisitions.

Francisco Reynés has made these statements during an interview with the Spanish newspaper EXPANSIÓN, leader in economic news.

Francisco Reynés has mentioned the Naturgy Strategic Plan for the period 2018-2022, which was presented some weeks ago in London; a plan that promises its shareholders to increase the dividend in cash by at least 5% per year until the end of the period.

To reinforce the new shareholder remuneration policy, and if the intended acquisitions do not materialize, the company could allocate a maximum of € 2,000 million in the period as share buyback.

About this possibility, Francisco Reynés has explained that “in march, when we started to design the strategic action plan, we decided to conceive it without restrictions so that we can accomplish our own strategic decisions”.

“We want to demonstrate that it is not necessary to buy another company; Naturgy is in a position to develop by itself”, he added.

Once the strategic plan has been drafted and presented, Francisco Reynés has recognized that “it is important to look at everything”. It is not a race where you are running alone, you have to look what the competition is doing. To grow in business should not an obsession, it is rather an option”, he said.

Francisco Reynés has also insisted on the need to “play an important role in the reorganisation of the sector (…) We can be a relevant energy actor in Europe”, he concluded.

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