Amazon places a lot of importance on its fulfillment centers in meeting the needs of its customers. In this fulfillment centers, a huge number of warehouse workers are responsible for tracking, parking, sorting, and shuffling each order before shipping to the buyer. Although these centers are of crucial importance to the company, workers face strenuous working conditions.
Use of Automated System to Track and Fire Workers
Workers of the fulfillment centers are expected to pack hundreds of boxes every hour based on a "make rate". When a worker fails to achieve the standard rate, they are at risk of losing their job for not moving fast enough. The automatic tracking and firing system can terminate workers who are not picking and packing orders fast enough. The system is automated to track a worker in every second of their working day. It then auto-generates warnings for under-performance when the worker spends too much time off-task. Eventually, the work is automatically terminated after receiving 6 warnings within a 12-month period. This has seen the company firing hundreds of workers in its fulfillment facilities. Between August 2017 and September 2018, about 300 full-time associates at Amazon were terminated in a facility for inefficiency.
The number of people fired under the tracking system represents a substantial portion of the facility's workers. For instance, the Baltimore fulfillment center includes about 2,500 full-time workers. By firing 300 employees, it means that the company terminated contracts of about 10% of the company's staff based on productivity alone. With the company about 75 fulfillment centers and hiring about 125,000 full-time employees, it means that thousands lose their jobs annually for productivity issues. The situation is made worse by the fact that the company uses a deeply automated tracking system that terminates employees without human interactions.
Source: MIT Technology Review
Amazon Automatic Tracking System Treats Workers as Robots
The tracking system used by Amazon tracks the rate of productivity for each worker. Then, it generates any warning or terminations automatically based on productivity or quality of the worker without any input from the supervisors. The problem with this system is that it lacks human appeal since it treats workers more like robots and less like people. The tracking process also tracks time off task, whereby the system generates automatic warnings for workers that break from scanning packages for longer durations. Eventually, such employees get fired after getting several warnings. As a result, some of the employees have resorted to avoiding bathroom breaks to avoid warning by keeping their time in line with the system’s expectations.
Source: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Although Amazon retrains its workers to get them up to standards, they still struggle with meeting goals. Once 75% of workers in a given facility start meeting goals, the company revises its rates. The bottom 5 percent of the workers after performance review are placed on a training plan. Even under such measures, the automation of the process still means that more workers get terminated. Human beings, unlike robots, have days when they are highly productive and other days where they are less productive...
The Real Problem with Automated Tracking and Firing of Workers
An automatic tracking system fails to consider other factors that make people human. For instance, a human workforce brings aspects of creativity, learning and growing, and problem-solving. For optimal performance and productivity, humans need room to breathe in order to contribute. Unfortunately, an automatic system fails to consider such factors, focusing only on productivity levels. It reviews workers based on the set algorithms, ignoring other human factors that may affect the productivity of the workers.
InstantShip's Culture vs Amazon's Brutal 'Terminators'
Unlike Amazon’s brutal way of terminating employees, InstantShip’s culture is based on creating freedom to all parties involved. We believe that everyone plays a crucial role in the success of a business. As such, everyone deserves a fair chance to make significant contributions to the organization.
Our focus in the market is to provide reliable UPS shipping cost, USPS postage, and international shipping estimates. We help businesses get away with the frustrations of inaccurate shipping rates by providing instant calculations, and helping you get affordable UPS shipping rates and USPS shipping rates. Part of our success has been contributed by the fact that we work a small team for expedited decision making process. A small team improved collaborative efforts, reduces bureaucracy, and helps in giving enough attention to each customer. It also ensure that every service offered has a human touch, and reflects to the specific needs of the customer.