Amazon is one of the largest corporations in the world and every year it employs and hires hundreds of thousands of hourly workers. We see a huge number of employees that are leaving Amazon and who are being replaced every year. The company often declines to share the detailed numbers of these employees leaving every year. Many of the jobs that are taken up by candidates who work at Amazon are short term. There were different types of employees who joined from backgrounds like dancing, which they found was a good way to make extra money at Amazon if they joined. The schedule of Amazon did not clash with their dancing schedule, and it fit them appropriately due to which they continue to work at Amazon.
But after people find that they have made sufficient amount of money they discontinue working at Amazon. There were many other employees who needed work. And often, even though under pressure, they continued working at Amazon. Amazon also takes back employees who have left to working, and they can join back anytime they want. There is a huge churn rate at Amazon and multiple executives, both current and former employees of Amazon often fear that there will be a time when Amazon will not find enough workers. There are varieties of towns where Amazon has based its operations in the United States early in its days. However, Amazon has burned through local pools and needed to make people travel to those warehouses so that they can continue their work.
Read more: Amazon force »
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Amazon Hiring and Attrition
Out of six to seven people who apply at Amazon, actually one person shows up and starts working. This has been shared by the management at Amazon based on years of experience. It has been also observed by senior management at Amazon that if Amazon is churning out through its entire workforce once or twice a year, then Amazon needs to have about 10 million people to apply every year. That accounts for about 5% to 8% of the entire American workforce of Amazon. It has also been observed by the senior management at Amazon that attrition is only one of the data points at Amazon which when used alone lacks a lot of important context regarding the overall environment and landscape.
Many of the newcomers who joined Amazon were in different types of situations that were impractical. The reason for these impractical situations stemmed from having a difficult schedule or difficulty in commuting. Often, the Amazon role that they have joined in is just not a good fit for the skills of that employee. Many candidates are always a fan of Amazon. Over time, many of the human resources professionals who work at Amazon were disappointed that they did not see a long term thinking from the senior leadership at Amazon. The company was quickly cycling through different pool of workers. It was almost like the fossil fuels that Amazon was churning to the employees despite climate change. This analogy is often similar to the fossil fuel consumption of climate change, which is bound to be depleting and will disappear at one point of time.
Amazon Employee Communications
The Amazon human resource professionals who observed these scenarios left Amazon later after joining and working in that company for several years and many almost a decade. They often join other companies and in different types of ecommerce businesses where they hope that their insights might be valued more appropriately, and they will be able to create more impact rather than being ignored. Amazon also provides Long Term Disability Insurance to its employees. However, many employees even after having the disability insurance had to move into low income housing. The employees and their families never saw any sign that anyone who was in charge of the warehouses at Amazon tried to reach and understand what was happening to them.
They highlighted that Amazon did not call them and even did not ask to follow up on how they were actually doing. There were multiple reports of employees being affected during the pandemic due to the virus. There was no official count how many workers were infected and Amazon also provided free on site testing. However, Amazon did not share with the general workforce at the different warehouses the names of those who are infected for privacy reasons. Amazon also did not offer guidance on where or in which shifts the infected workers worked. Due to these types of reasons, many employees learned about the cases that had been spread among their peers and colleagues informally, which set the rumors spreading.
Amazon Employee Records and Reporting
Amazon senior management also highlighted that the company never sent out any notification to their colleagues regarding their infection statuses. And then they were confronted by the managers who could not explain why. This lack of clarity effected many employees at Amazon. There has also been reports that Amazon has publicly mentioned they were reporting confirmed number of cases during the pandemic to the local health authorities. Amazon also mentioned that they will be counting the number of cases in their warehouses and reporting that as well. However, the New York City Health Department has mentioned that there were no reports until the next several months. This has been reported in multiple newspapers and also been found in the Health Department records.
The Amazon management also highlighted that there were lack of records in the city's health department due to being overwhelmed early in the pandemic. The management at the health department of New York also mentioned that there was lack of proper reporting system due to which Amazon counts might not have been documented. However, after the reporting system was in place, there was no reason why Amazon counts should not have been reported because the system was already in place and Amazon should have provided the data. It was found according to the city data and records that were disclosed by Amazon in a lawsuit that the warehouse had more than 700 to 800 confirmed cases between March 2020 and March 2021.
Amazon Revenue and Employee Bonuses
Due to the limited amount of testing in the New York metropolitan area, this might be very poor figure and the actual number of cases might be much higher. During the Christmas, the activities in all the Amazon warehouses both in the packaging and delivery processes increased significantly. There were 1 million units in 24 hours that were shipped in 2020. The workers were doing something that they have never done before during this peak season and Amazon deliveries were actually booming. Managers got promotions and also led to supervising multiple warehouses as part of their job responsibilities. Some of the warehouses just witnessed a small part of the success that Amazon saw at a global scale.
Hundreds of billions of dollars were part of the quarterly revenue of Amazon during the quarter of the holiday season. During the pandemic year of 2020, Amazon spent nearly $50 billion dollars in leasing airplanes, and opening new warehouses alongside of constructing different data centers. Despite all the expenses that Amazon was doing, they also produced nearly $30 billion in profit. Amazon also globally spend around $4 billion on the extra pandemic pay in spring and there were a variety of seasonal bonuses that was given to his employees. The bonuses that was given to the warehouse employees of Amazon for the holidays was nearly $300 and for part-timers the bonus that was provided to the employees was nearly $150.
Amazon Performance Boosting Gifts
Multiple groups in the social media platform including different Facebook groups were warehouse workers all over the world sharing different photos of their messages to their managers. The messages were sent to motivate and reward them. Many of the employees even want air fryers or Amazon Fire TV sticks. It was reported that in Connecticut, United States, one of the managers who worked at Amazon messaged the employees at their workstations that if they were able to handle 400 items in one particular hour, that is about 1 item every 10 seconds, they will be able to win a candy. And then another thing that was reported to be shared in Amazon during the holidays was a banana would be available during 9am and 7pm.
In Ohio, it was also reported that Amazon workers received scratch off cards to win different prizes as part of their motivational strategies. One of the employees scratched off to such scratch off cards, which showed them the message that they needed to try again. There were a number of unionization votes also at Amazon, where employees often complain regarding their treatment as an issue of racial justice. The Amazon employees often objected to that type of task system that tracked their performances and created extreme stress and pressure. There were multiple productivity monitoring techniques that was implemented by Amazon that created a lot of stress among the employees. The employees created an union and started a campaign which they highlighted as a quest for respect in the workplace.
Amazon Employee Unions and Official Response
Amazon waged a ground war warning through posting texts and mandatory meetings that negotiations with unions will be risking the good jobs and benefits workers already were provided. The retail union that was created by the employees of Amazon lost by more than two to one votes. Legal fights often continued between Amazon and the warehouse employees whether it was safe to work during the pandemic and the virus, and how Amazon handled the cases of sickness. During the March 2020 protests, it was often highlighted that Amazon began collecting the signatures of hundreds of workers to unionize. Amazon also posted discouraging signs in the bathrooms and at the building's entrance so that employees should not participate in unionizing packing boxes.
As the company countered its efforts, the senior executives felt the pressure on them growing. There was an unexpected moment of recognition by the company that was seen in different warehouses and workers at multiple places shared their complaints and similar stress situations that they had encountered. Reopening of the economy presented workers with different types of problems, where growth ambitions of Amazon conflicted with their day-to-day work at Amazon and the work-life balance. The high turnover model of Amazon is often found to be a very risky proposition, because the concerns about how Amazon treated its employees were constantly growing.
Amazon Work Culture and Diversity Initiatives
It was almost going to tarnish the legacy of Jeff Bezos and the hard work that he have done for decades. Amazon has the goal to become the best employer in the earth with the extreme focus on the customer satisfaction and customer centricity, while at the same time bringing the best compensation and highest level of employee benefits to its employees. However, there were multiple questions that were getting raised on Amazon due to its extremely stressful work culture. Amazon also then provided multiple raises to its employees so that the compensation was at par with the stress and fast-paced work environment that the company was dealing with. Amazon also announced multiple safety initiatives in response to the risky work atmosphere that has been highlighted by multiple Amazon warehouses and employees working there.
Amazon also highlighted a number of diversity plans which included a goal to return different employees at all the demographic at similar rates statistically. It has also often been admitted by the senior management who worked at Amazon that the company often relied heavily on technology to manage its workers. The head of the warehouse Human Resources Division, also admitted to the fact that there were many times when they thought that self-service was excellent, but that cannot be the only solution, and cannot be the replacement of human interaction. The senior management at Amazon also highlighted that they are going to try and constantly improve and fix any existing problems that they had.
Amazon Performance Review Process Revision
It was not exactly clear how Amazon was going to reconsider the systems of productivity, automation, and extremely high rate of turnover that actually contributed to its dominance in the retail and online shopping sector. The major question that Amazon was faced with was if they could address the issue of an expendable workforce, and how they could best utilize their workforce without stressing them out and burning them out. There are multiple inquiries by The Times and other news outlets regarding the time of task policy that was implemented in Amazon and which created multiple complaints and concerns regarding employee tracking stress. Amazon also subsequently changed their policies after multiple reports and complaints.
In the new policy, it was mentioned that Amazon will not be finding someone who only had one bad day. If employees were working significantly well for the past several months, then one mistake will not be considered a fatal enough mistake due to which they might lose their job. This has been one of the major complaints and concerns that was highlighted by the Amazon employees, and this policy change came as a huge relief to many workers. Many of the employees who are working at Amazon warehouses and fulfilling centers were now eligible for rehiring as well. Many of the employees who were fired due to that policy for one mistake were also eligible for rehiring.
Amazon Long Term Employee Focused Vision
Amazon also often highlighted that they had been reconsidering that policy for months, which led to employees being fired for one particular mistake. There were multiple studies that were conducted by different teams, for example, in Seattle, where they were closely watching the recent events and read the policy change. The observers and analytical firms were often feeling that they were caught between skepticism and hoping that the company will deploy the best qualities with open-minded leadership.
The employees and the observers at Amazon hoped that fresh and open thinking along with tackling the hard problems effectively with focus on employee welfare was the best thing that Amazon could come up with. Everyone hoped that that policy changes at Amazon would be bringing amazing times, especially for the hourly employment category of workers across all the industries. The leadership at Amazon definitely had the will and the skills to bring a lot of goodness to the company overall, and deliver superior customer service in the future.