Jeff Bezos Says Amazon Will Use Algorithms To Increase Staff Satisfaction
Jeff Bezos has admitted in an exit letter to Amazon shareholders that the company “needs to do a better job for our employees” and details plans to use algorithms to avoid workers burning out.
“Does your Chair take comfort in the outcome of the recent union vote in Bessemer?,” he writes. “No, he doesn’t. I think we need to do a better job for our employees. While the voting results were lopsided and our direct relationship with employees is strong, it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees – a vision for their success.
“If you read some of the news reports,” he continues, “you might think we have no care for employees. In those reports, our employees are sometimes accused of being desperate souls and treated as robots. That’s not accurate. They’re sophisticated and thoughtful people who have options for where to work.”
He goes on to quote an internal survey of fulfillment centre employees where 94 per cent say they would recommend Amazon to a friend as a place to work. He also bristles against claims workers are so closely monitored they cannot take toilet breaks.
“Employees are able to take informal breaks throughout their shifts to stretch, get water, use the rest room, or talk to a manager, all without impacting their performance. These informal work breaks are in addition to the 30-minute lunch and 30-minute break built into their normal schedule.”
He also writes of “achievable performance goals that take into account tenure and actual employee performance data,” and says employees are provided with coaches if they are “on track to miss a performance target over a period of time,” noting they fire less than 2.6 per cent of employees due to their inability to perform their jobs.
In terms of injuries due to physical labour, Bezos explains that about 40% of work-related injuries at Amazon are related to musculoskeletal disorders, “things like sprains or strains that can be caused by repetitive motions.”
He hopes algorithms will help reduce this.
“We’re developing new automated staffing schedules that use sophisticated algorithms to rotate employees among jobs that use different muscle-tendon groups to decrease repetitive motion and help protect employees from MSD risks. This new technology is central to a job rotation program that we’re rolling out throughout 2021.”
Bezo signed off his farewell letter with a piece of parting advice.
“To all of you: be kind, be original, create more than you consume, and never, never, never let the universe smooth you into your surroundings. It remains Day 1.”
Jeff Bezos will step down as CEO later this year, as Andy Jassy steps into the role.