Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently announced the Day One Fund, a two billion dollar program to assist homeless families and help build preschools; but although altruistic, it does not account for the fact that Amazon treats its employees abominably. The Day One Families Fund would aid homeless families, while the Day One Academies Fund would create a line of non-profit preschools in low-income communities.
When journalist James Bloodsworth went undercover as an Amazon worker, he discovered many jarring sights.
In the English factory in which he worked, there was a six-point disciplinary system. If employees exceeded the six points, Amazon would sack them. Those who called in sick would lose a point. These points would rack up over minor mistakes or wasting too much time.
Bloodsworth himself received a point for taking a sick day.
Because they induce fear, systems like these fail to increase productivity. In such settings, workers worry about keeping their jobs instead of flourishing. Above all, irrational and unwavering punishments increase anxiety, which can prevent workplace stagnation but halt growth.
In response to the backlash, Amazon stated that it “provides a safe and positive workplace for thousands of people across the UK.” Bezos claimed to have scrapped the points system, adding in a statement that, “We will have a conversation.”
According to Bloodworth’s report, he found a bottle of urine on a shelf. When he asked the employees why it was there, they replied that they feared squandering time and a washroom break would keep them from meeting targets.
When a company compels employees to urinate in a bottle, the company must seriously reevaluate its policies. While Amazon didn’t impose a policy of “urinating in bottles,” it obligated workers to do so. Even though there are strict targets to meet in corporate settings, these targets ought not bar washroom breaks.
The workers in Bloodworth’s report state that taking too much time to find packages is labeled as “time off task,” which could result in a manager’s appearance. This results in points accumulating, and if an employee exceeds their amount, they get the ax.
Even though moderate levels of stress can increase productivity, punishing employees for squandering small bits of time is inhumane. It establishes an environment where workers are emotionless victims of operant conditioning.
Even though Bezos’s philanthropy may aid many underprivileged children and families, the Amazon founder should look into his own work environment if he wants to enact change.