Amazon uses a system that not only tracks the productivity of warehouse workers, but can also fire them automatically for not meeting expectations.
The demanding culture of productivity of Amazon workers has been revealed in multiple investigations. But new information indicates that the company not only tracks the productivity of workers in their stores, but also has a system that can fire them automatically.
Amazon has laid off more than 300 workers, citing productivity, in a single facility in Baltimore in a single year (August 2017 to September 2018), reports Colin Lecher of The Verge. The Verge cites a letter from an Amazon lawyer as part of a case with the National Labor Relations Board.
An Amazon spokesperson confirms Business Insider,
“Approximately 300 dealers in Baltimore have been fired for reasons related to productivity in this period of time. In general, the number of layoffs of employees has decreased in the last two years in this facility, as well as throughout North America.”
The Amazon system tracks a metric called “time out of homework,” which means how long workers stop or rest, reports The Verge. It has been reported previously that some workers feel so pressured that they do not take breaks to go to the bathroom.
If the system determines that the employee is not meeting the production objectives, it can issue warnings automatically and execute a dismissal without the intervention of a supervisor, although Amazon says that a human supervisor can override the system. The company also ensures that it provides training to those who do not meet their production goals.
While all employees at each job know they could be fired if they do not meet their performance objectives, few of us are driven by an automated system that tracks each of our movements that has full authority to make that decision.
And, of course, people are not robots. People have very productive days and less productive days. The real benefit of a human workforce is not to use people as the gears in a production wheel, but to employ people who are creative, who can solve problems, and who can learn and grow if given the opportunity to contribute .
However, Amazon’s mechanisms for demanding productivity are ubiquitous in many areas of its operations. For example, drivers who deliver packages from Amazon have said that they feel so pressured that they are speeding through neighborhoods, ignoring stop signs and urinating in bottles on or off trucks, according to Hayley Peterson, deBusiness. Insider
And as Amazon’s business continues to grow, the company’s need to deliver more and more packages as quickly as possible is greater.