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    Amazon Employee Engagement Woes: 3 Key Lessons For Your Business

    Alongside Apple, Google, and Facebook, Amazon is known as one of the Big Four tech companies and has, undoubtedly, become a household name globally. With their exponential growth comes an ever-increasing demand for more employees - particularly to ramp up their delivery system.  Through their own delivery network, Amazon Flex, as well as private couriers, the online retail giant shipped an estimated 3.5 billion packages globally in 2019. 

    To help fulfill the staggering shipping needs, Amazon is even encouraging individuals to become their delivery service partners by starting up their own logistic businesses for as little as $10,000. With Amazon’s support, these newly established companies are utilized to aid the company with its ever-increasing delivery orders. Amazon is definitely fueling the drive for these enterprises by sharing statistics of how a delivery service partner can make up to $300,000 per year if they have access to about 40 vehicles to transport packages. But what is the price of success in this high-pressure world of deliveries? What will be the strain on employees to reach the KPIs of the company? 

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    Dream Job 

    To be able to work for Amazon is a dream to many, and job seekers actively pursue any openings with the online seller's name attached to it. Unfortunately, many who did end up landing a job with Amazon are unable to keep up with the company’s expeditious pace after discovering the demanding workload and tight schedules necessary in many roles. 

    With over 90,000 warehouse employees and thousands more in contractual positions and serving as delivery drivers, it’s far-fetched for us to expect Amazon to please everyone. But it wouldn't hurt to at least try. We’ve checked renowned sites Glassdoor, Indeed, CareerBliss and Great Place to Work for feedback from current and previous employees of Amazon and found three key points which we can all learn from to improve the retention of good hourly employees. Let’s take a deeper look at each of them.

    1. More Than an Asset 

    While this might be second nature to some companies, there are a select few which, unfortunately, disregard their employees’ welfare - and Amazon might just be one of them. Employees’ complaints have been ongoing for years about the long hours and short breaks. Yet, little response is given to their concerns. 

    With pressing rules such as having a new package “sealed and ready to go every 30 seconds”, and scheduled, monitored bathroom breaks, employee turnover is unsurprisingly high at Amazon. To make matters worse, employees also have to work a mandatory 60-hours week during the peak holiday seasons. Even with the higher wage received during this overtime, the workload is still grueling and literally back-breaking for some.

    Because of Jeff Bezos' commitment to what he calls, "True Customer Obsession," the focus has always been on the customer at all costs. While his slogan merely sounds like a great introduction to a commercial, he is, in fact, truly dedicated to the customers, leaving little room for focus on the employees. Couple that with data from different surveys, it becomes obvious that Amazon does indeed put their customer first, and way above its employees. Contrast this business mission with that of Southwest Airlines, "Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer." - it comes with no surprise that Amazon’s employees feel mistreated or even inconsequential to their company. 

    Though Amazon did roll out a new $15 minimum wage in late 2019, some employees still complained that the work is strenuous and even "unrealistic". Rather than using their workers as a means to an end, Amazon could perhaps put in more effort into cultivating a safe environment for their employees. After all, it can’t hurt to have more employees praising the company’s work culture, right?

    2. Qualify, Orient, and Train 

    One of the major themes of complaints from Amazon employees is the lack of training and onboarding for new employees. In fact, after getting hired, new employees are simply thrown into their work routine with little to no guidance. 

    In one package delivery driver's review, he said that he was given a route and told what packages to load based on the app on his phone. After which, he had to "drive like crazy to make all the deliveries on time." There is no specific training in customer service on how to handle a complaint or question posed to them by a customer. As such, drivers for Flex and other Amazon services are simply winging it, trying to figure out how to stay ahead of the workload by themselves. 

    While it might not seem like much, given the minimal contact these delivery drivers have with the customers, you can never be too careful with your onboarding process. After all, they are still representatives of your company. One slip, and it could tarnish your company’s reputation, especially in this day and age of technology where feedback is bound to go viral depending on the severity of the complaint. Additionally, with the ongoing pandemic, training for employees could never be more emphasized on to ensure that employees are aware of the new advisories. Undoubtedly, customers will be more appreciative when their deliverymen abide by safety measures, especially in this sensitive climate.

    If you need help with your hiring process, we’re here to help! At Workstream, we’ve helped over 5000 hiring managers find the right person for their company. Drop us a message to find out how you can optimize your hiring, so you can focus on planning the onboarding process for your new staff.

    3. Listen to Feedback 

    As Amazon is a worldwide conglomerate, controlling working conditions at every location will most likely pose a challenge. But it becomes easier if the company takes the time to listen to employees. 

    Case in point - workers at a warehouse in Eagan, East Africa, complained that the stifling heat in the said warehouse, which had no air conditioning, was causing workers to feel faint and unable to work. In the US, several complaints have been made against Amazon regarding the poor working conditions amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, the company’s reluctance to provide the number of employees infected further exacerbated the issue as employees felt that their company is not being transparent with them regarding the severity of the situation.

    These complaints, and many other similar ones, are common in Amazon and many employees feel like they are falling on deaf ears because of the lack of action taken by the company. Typically, a big movement (i.e. protests) is required from the employees before any improvements are rolled out.

    Lessons Learned 

    Business owners and leaders can learn a thing or two from the pages of Amazon's growth pains. The first is to remember that stating that employees are the company's greatest asset needs to be followed up with discernible action at the floor-level. Employees want to be treated with respect and dignity, and know that they are valued. 

    Additionally, as a business grows, it must invest in qualifying and training new employees, giving them time to assimilate into their positions as well as the company culture. This not only boosts employees’ morale but also ensures that the company’s reputation will not be hurt by a careless mistake.

    Finally, employees not only want to be heard, but they want to know that their feedback is valuable. Acknowledge these feedback and try to take action based on them. Mastering these three will put businesses that rely on hourly employees ahead of the competition. 

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    Zakiyah Hanani

    Zakiyah is a freelance content writer. She’s a lifelong learner, looking for opportunities to expand her horizons whenever she can. She loves traveling, playing volleyball and reading up on general developments in the industry.

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