There might soon be no one left to hire at Amazon’s warehouses
Amazon.com’s size and huge rate of employee turnover appear to be setting up the retail juggernaut for a strange hiring problem — it is on the way to running out of people who are willing to work at its warehouses.
A leaked internal Amazon memo from mid-2021, recently acquired by Recode, describes a concern at the company that it may be unable to find anyone left to work in its warehouses by 2024.
Amazon’s calculation of potential prospective employees takes into account factors like income level and proximity to a current or planned Amazon facility. So while the research does not indicate that every employable person living in the U.S. will have worked at Amazon and quit by 2024, it does not paint a rosy picture of the potential employment pool.
The research suggests that raising wages and increasing warehouse automation, as well as other moves, could push the problem out farther into the future, but that Amazon will have to make significant changes to how it does business to avert the labor crisis entirely. The number of warehouse workers Amazon churns through in a year is equivalent to the size of its entire front-line staff.
Amazon’s labor practices have recently come under fire over a number of issues.
Critics have argued that the principle of “customer obsession” touted by Amazon is flawed, leading to employee burnout and poor worker/company relationships, among other problems.
Work safety incidents at Amazon warehouses have prompted Congress to call for an investigation from the U.S. Department of Labor into the company via the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), according to the Cherry Hill Courier-Post. In a press conference, U.S. Rep Donald Norcross said workers at Amazon warehouses were 88 percent more likely to be seriously injured on the job than in comparable warehouses.
Amazon has also become a focal point in the national discussion over unionization.
This month Amazonians United, a labor group responsible for organizing unions at a number of Amazon warehouses nationwide, accused the company of illegally firing Maryland employees over worker rights-related issues, according to The Washington Post. The group filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board. Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, denied the assertion, saying, “Whether an employee supports a certain cause or group doesn’t factor into the difficult decision of whether or not to let someone go.”
- Leaked Amazon memo warns the company is running out of people to hire – Vox
- Time to Retire Customer Obsession – CustomerThink
- Call for federal investigation of Amazon worker injuries, critics gather at Logan site – Cherry Hill Courier-Post
- Amazon workers in Maryland say they were fired for union organizing – The Washington Post
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Amazon averting this looming labor crisis, and how? What lessons can other major retail employers take from Amazon’s state of affairs?