Say “No More” to Amazon’s Brutal Working Conditions
Re-evaluating the Working Conditions in Amazon Fulfillment Centers
Amazon has brutal working conditions for all warehouse workers.
This one claim has driven thousands of employees to quit and bash Amazon to the public. Jim Edwards, a writer for Business Insider explains, “It has taken years for CEO Jeff Bezos to build Amazon into the success story that it is. It could take just a few months for its brand name to be turned into a byword for chiseling.” If these claims do not go away soon, not only will Amazon lose many of its employees, but also its sales.
Although Amazon is frequently derided for poor working conditions at its warehouses, those working conditions are not actually all that bad. Amazon has implemented a number of innovative solutions that have made its warehouses some of the best to work at in the country.
There are numerous sites, like Glassdoor, which allow employees to openly write about their experiences working with a specific company. Glassdoor is a website that encourages employees to write comments regarding their workplace, if they would recommend working at their company to a friend, and their rating on the overall workplace conditions.
Despite the negative claims, “some 66% of Amazon employees would recommend the company to a friend and 80% approve of CEO Bezos”. Based on Glassdoor, workers do not seem too unhappy with Amazon.
At one time, working conditions were appalling and employees were forced to walk several miles across the warehouse each day to pick orders. Graduate Adam Littler, age 23, admits he “walked up to 11 miles as he worked 10-and-a-half-hour night shifts inside the online retailer’s giant distribution centre in Swansea”.
Amazon added algorithms and robots to solve this exhausting issue. Now, Amazon has a software which calculates the most efficient walking route to collect the ordered items. Additionally, Amazon has added 15,000 Kiva robots to 10 fulfillment centers in 2014 to ease the stress of walking. These robots are nested below each shelf, easily gliding the shelves to the employee to minimize walking and to increase efficiency. Once an order is sent to an employee’s hand held scanner, the robots move the shelves in the direction of that employee. Robots are only the first step to improving these working conditions.
Amazon was aware of temperature malfunction within the fulfillment centers for a while and finally decided something needed to be done to fix it. Can you believe Amazon allows their employees to work in brutally hot warehouses? Jeff Bezos cannot believe this either.
He “promised that the company will spend $52 million this year to add air conditioning to its warehouses”, reports the Seattle Times.
In 2012, the company added 40 roof-top air conditioners in its 615,000-square foot warehouse. One excited worker even admitted, “I didn’t even break a sweat today… I noticed the difference as soon as I walked in the door”. Between robotics and air conditioning, Amazon has now created a new standard of working conditions.
Bezos even implemented a “pay to quit” campaign that he borrowed from Zappos shoe store that would allow workers to reevaluate their workplace. The idea is pretty simple and will improve the Amazon workforce. After employees go through the month-long training session, they are offered $2,000 and their month’s pay if they quit on the spot.
Amazon’s warehouses took this idea one step further. Once a year, Amazon will offer to pay their associates to quit. After the first year, they are offered the same $2,000 as before. The offer increases $1,000 each year until the offer reaches $5,000. Amazon headlines this final offer with “Please Don’t Take This Offer” because Amazon truly wants their employees to stay. The goal is to encourage employees to think about what they really want in their future jobs. The workers who stay are the ones who are loyal and dedicated to the company and want to be there.
Looking toward the future, an employee staying somewhere they do not want to be is not healthy for employee or the company. This campaign will improve conditions further by creating a more positive working environment, consisting of workers who truly want to be there.
Additionally, Amazon has been accused of mistreating employees who have illnesses or family tragedies that cause them work at a slower rate or need some time off.
Amazon’s “Virtual Contact Center” is responsible for employee’s newfound flexibility. This flexibility is ideal for those who have young children and prefer not to leave the house. Therefore, new mothers or people who have intense medical illnesses such as cancer can work in the comfort of their own home. It also allows the company to hire employees from a wider range of qualified people, ignoring any physical disabilities or medical conditions. By doing so, Amazon saves its money on better talent and gives job opportunities to people who might not be in the workforce.
All in all, Amazon has fired back at the negative claims regarding working conditions in fulfillment centers. Amazon has been reported for making its workers walk up to 11 miles a day, work in extreme heat conditions, and for mistreating or firing employees who might need time off or are not productive due to a medical condition.
Amazon acted fast to reverse these negativities within their company by installing air conditioning, adding robotic shelving, implementing a “pay to quit” program, and creating a flexible work schedule for those who need it.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, sent out an email to all employees explaining, “…our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero” and he would not tolerate the “shockingly callous management practices”. Bezos has been encouraging employees to email him if any issues arise within the fulfillment centers.
Amazon is turning into positive working environment that employees are happy to work at. Some stubborn people still believe that these outdated claims are true. Now that you know the facts, do you?