If you look at Amazon’s Leadership Principles, you’ll notice the very first one is all about how great leaders are customer-obsessed.
It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, as the retail giant has built a reputation for being customer-centric and focused on improving their already ridiculously fast delivery and low pricing. These two facets of customer centricity have made Amazon the king of online retailers today.
However, it has come at a cost to their workers.
In an effort to be better, stronger, and faster, the online powerhouse lost sight of one of its most precious assets — its employees. While their ultra-fast Prime Shipping deliveries are a staple of their service, it would be impossible without their employees.
In their haste to be customer-obsessed, their algorithmic proficiency quotas have come to the detriment of their warehouse staff.
Unfair Quotas, Proficiency Algorithms, and Worker Safety: The Real Story Behind Prime Shipping
The world has become conditioned to Amazon’s fast delivery times. The pandemic only exacerbated the desire for this need-it-yesterday type of consumerism.
But for all its convenience, one part of Amazon’s brand experience has been echoing in the background like a resounding alarm, and that’s the unending need-it-yesterday kind of work for warehouse employees.
Even before the pandemic, there were stories of workers pushed to the limits to meet the demand for Amazon’s extremely high quotas. But that wasn’t even half of it. Algorithmic tracking watches over employee productivity with Big Brother-like precision.
The fear for most workers: being marked for “Time of Task” (TOT).
Workers didn’t dare use the bathroom for fear of missing quotas and losing their jobs. The unnaturally high quotas forced warehouse workers to use dangerous practices in order to meet the demand, leading to unsafe working conditions.
One online source states that the injury rate at Amazon Fulfillment Centers is nearly double the industry average.
The time crunch and the unending slew of scanning, packing, and shipping goods to online shoppers presented a real and present danger.
Thankfully, a new California law has its sights set on changing this trajectory — and it has forced Amazon’s creator, Jeff Bezos, to enact change in its practices and ensure there is more focus on its staff.
The California Law That is Influencing a Return to Employee Loyalty
Amazon customers are edging closer towards a workplace that allows them to pee without punishment! The California state senate voted 26 to 11 in favor of Bill AB 701.
According to reports from NPR, the bill achieves two outcomes for warehouse workers:
- Productivity demands cannot come at the expense of worker health or safety.
- It will provide greater transparency into worker quotas and rates.
These two objectives serve to aid Amazon warehouse workers at extremely busy fulfillment centers. It will also provide employees with the opportunity to grieve instances that abuse these objectives with legal action against employers, not only for themselves but on behalf of all staff members at the facility.
The bill is still waiting to be signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom, but all signs point towards it becoming law as Newsom has signed other pro-worker bills in the past.
Amazon’s Deliberate Action to Put More Focus Into Employee Relations
In his last letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos added two new Leadership Principles that demonstrate a deliberate action to correct employee relations for the company’s future.
The first principle Bezos added was “Strive to be the Earth’s best employer.” The verbiage is clear. Bezos emphasizes leaders within the company changing the present-day culture in favor of one that is more employee-centric.
If they can become half as focused on employees as they are on their customers, it should be a sea change for the company that employs over 950,000 workers across the U.S.
The second principle states, “Success and scale bring broad responsibility.” While this principle lightly touches on doing right by employees, it focuses more on building a sustainable future that recognizes the unintended consequences of a global entity. Its purpose is to remind leaders to leave the Earth better than they found it.
These two initiatives strike at the heart of a global company trying to correct course regarding employee relations and their impact on workers and the environment. Time will tell how successful they are in both of these endeavors.
You Don’t Have to Be Amazon to Make a Difference for Employees
While Amazon’s renewed commitment to creating a more just and fair workplace is commendable, it remains to be seen if they will make good on that promise.
Nonetheless, you don’t have to be a global company like Amazon to make a difference in your employee’s working conditions. Instead, you can take a proactive approach to create a culture that is employee-obsessed and customer-centric at the same time — and it’s easier than you think!
WebPunch can improve your employee Net Promoter Score with eNPS. Our system captures valuable employee feedback and makes it easy to create actionable follow-up and track your score using our tailored tools and expertise. It’s critical in our changing work environment to engage your employees and work together to make your business a positive place to work.
Surveying your employees via a system like eNPS is one of the easiest ways to retain your best employees during a challenging economic climate. It allows employers to listen to feedback and make changes within the company. At the same time, employees feel a sense of ownership in the company’s trajectory through their feedback with each new initiative. It’s a win-win!
Please visit our website, or reach out to Matt@webpunch.com to get more information about improving your employee culture and enhancing your brand experience.