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Amazon launches staff wellbeing initiative amid allegations of bad working conditions

Amazon wants to be the world’s safest employer.

Allie Nawrat

Leader

Amazon warehouse
Credit: Brian and Laura via Twenty20.

Unleash Your PeopleThe e-commerce giant is rolling out its WorkingWell program across the US and Europe.

  • Amazon wants to be both the world’s “best employer” and “safest place to work”.
  • To achieve the latter, it has introduced a new WorkingWell program to prevent injuries at work and improve employee mental wellbeing.
  • But does this go far enough?

Just last month, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told shareholders that the company needed to do better by employees and become “the earth’s best employer”. This was Bezos’ final shareholder letter before he steps down as CEO at the end of 2021.

[Read more: Amazon continues push to ‘do better’ in wake of unionization efforts]

Now Amazon has committed itself to being the “earth’s safest place to work” by investing $300m in safety projects in 2021, including its new WorkingWell program.

All of this comes in light of Amazon being under fire for bad working conditions and high work rate expectations in its warehouses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The e-commerce giant may have defeated a unionization push in Alabama earlier this year, but it seems the workplace fight is far from over.

Deep dive into WorkingWell

Developed in collaboration with employees, Amazon has been piloting the safety initiative in the US since 2019.

But the company has now expanded it to support to almost 860,000 employees across 350 sites in North America and Europe. Amazon now plans to introduce it across all of the company’s operations in the US with the ultimate aim of cutting incident rates by 50% by 2025.

WorkingWell aims to help prevent injuries – particularly musculoskeletal ones — in Amazon warehouses, as well as provide mental wellbeing support and high-quality healthcare to its employees.

It will do this through engaging and educating employees daily about workplace risks, mainly through interactive videos about how to prevent injuries and nutrition, among other topics.

The Wall Street Journal further reported that the e-commerce giant is working on introducing schedules that move employees from one job to another that require different muscle groups, in order to prevent repeat injuries.

In addition, Amazon will introduce dedicated wellness spaces where employees can stretch to help muscle recovery, as well as provide guided mindfulness sessions – known as AmaZen — to staff during their shifts.

Further to this, the e-commerce giant is leveraging technology to foster employee engagement and improve communication between teams, which has suffered in the pandemic.

Every hour warehouse staff will be prompted and guided through physical and mental activities to help them recharge and re-energize in order to reduce both physical and mental fatigue.

Amazon has also set up connect and comment kiosks to encourage staff feedback about the WorkingWell program and what they’d like to get out of it in the future.

The company has further created a mobile app that will enable staff access to these offerings outside of working hours to allow employees to continue to work on their mental wellbeing in their free time.  

But will educational initiatives be enough to prevent Amazon staff from getting injured at work? Or will the e-commerce giant need to go further and reduce its work rate expectations of employees? Stay tuned.

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