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Amazon joins Walmart and Target in new education benefits for US hourly workers

Amazon has followed a similar strategy as Target and Walmart as it improves its benefits.

Daniel Richardson

Amazon work employee benefits
Credit: @JulieK via Twenty20

Unleash Your People Will the new benefits reduce the impact of the ‘Great Resignation’ for Amazon?

  • 100% of employee college tuition fees will be paid by Amazon as part of a new benefit offering.
  • The scheme comes after a number of employers have begun to offer additional benefits to retain employees.
  • Amazon previously offered to pay for 95% of tuition, fees and textbooks.

Amazon is no stranger to controversy. The company drew a great deal of criticism when claims of workers being unable to take a bathroom break and being left to urinate in bottles surfaced earlier this year. Since then, there has been a push for unionization from some employees.

But now the company has changed course and is offering fresh benefits for its hourly workers.

In the US, the e-commerce giant will offer a new education benefits package from January 2022. The company will pay the cost of college tuition, fees, and textbooks for hourly employees in its operations network after 90 days of employment. Amazon’s operation network includes employees in warehouses and distribution centers.

Additionally, the scheme will pay for high school diploma programs, GEDs, and English as a second language certification. 

Through its career choice program, Amazon previously offered to pay employees 95% of their tuition, fees, and textbooks. However, the increase in coverage comes after other large enterprises have altered the benefits they offer.

Greater benefits for employees

Many are concerned that the “Great Resignation” will leave enterprises short-handed. Employees are leaving work at a record rate as they decide that their current situation is not offering them the benefits or balance that they want.

In an effort to combat this, the likes of Walmart and Target have focused on an educational offering.

Like Amazon, both companies have offered to pay the tuition of their employees.

340,000 employees at Target stores and its distribution centers will be able to choose from 250 programs at over 40 schools and universities across the US.

In a news release, Melissa Kremer, chief human resources officer at Target, said: “A significant number of our hourly team members build their careers at Target, and we know many would like to pursue additional education opportunities.”

Kremer added: “We don’t want the cost to be a barrier for anyone, and that’s where Target can step in to make education accessible for everyone.”

Target will also pay up to $10,000 a year for master’s programs within its available network of schools.

Similarly, Walmart will offer its 1.5 million part-time and full-time employees in the U.S. the opportunity to obtain college degrees or learn trade skills without the worry of education debt.

The educational benefits offered by Amazon come after it began offering sign-on bonuses for new employees worth up to $3,000.

Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky told analysts and investors following the company’s second-quarter earnings report in July about the competitive market in the US.

Olsavsky stated: “We’re spending a lot of money on signing and incentives, and while we have very good staffing levels, it’s not without a cost. It’s a very competitive labor market out there.”

Since 2020, Amazon has hired 500,000 employees and it intends to keep growing with plans for an additional 750,000 workers across the US and Canada.

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