Karen Weise, Jeff Bezoza, Andy Jassy discussed on Reset
And magnet Chakrabarti and today it's our ongoing series about Amazon, recalling it the prime effect. It's all about how Amazon is changing the way we shop, live and work. And we're focusing on the work part today and Amazon's relationship with its work forced as the world's largest retailer. I'm joined today by Karen Weise, reporter for The New York Times has reported extensively on Amazon and we've got links to her stories at one point radio dot org. She's with us. From Seattle and Karen before the break. You talked about Amazon having this very high turnover rate, especially amongst, um Hourly workers, um across the company. So we had a chance to talk to our Dean Williams, who is Amazon's vice president of workforce development, and we put the findings of your Reporting to her and asked her about that about the great resignation that's happening across the country and how that is being rot at Amazon. I suspect that part of the the shift in the labor market is that there are people who are deciding that by adding skills and experience. They have their opening other doors and they had a chance during it tremendously dark period for the country to see what the possibilities were in terms of resiliency in other fields, And so I think we've seen a pretty significant shift. In the labor market that was accelerated by the pandemic. Mm. But internally to Amazon, as you definitely know, Uh, The New York Times has reported on Amazon's workforce quite extensively and in one of their stories if they say they found 150% turnover a year, which they reported as being higher than The retail or logistics industry averages. I mean, do you think that turnover rate in in Amazon is acceptable? Don't know if that is the turnover rate. I don't have that data. Okay, So I mean, I guess what would you say It would be unacceptable rate of turnover at Amazon. Nick Turnover is tough, right? When you When people leave, you lose. Not only, um, institutional knowledge, you lose. Ellie was college and so retaining a skilled workforce is a priority. And I think that when you If you take a look at, for example, the two leadership principles that were recently added prior to the change from Jeff Bezoza to Andy Jassy, being Earth's best employer and the safest place to work that really underscores the focus. On ensuring that we are Creating a great place to work and taking care of our work flips. That's our Dean Williams, Amazon's vice president of workforce. Development, Karen so many things to ask you following even just that short exchange with Ms Williams, their first of all, how do you respond to her, saying that she's not sure if the turnover rate That you reported, um, is right. She said She didn't have that data. Yeah, she that she may not have that data. I mean, we went through extensive month and a half fact checking process with Amazon on our reporting. So if that had been inaccurate, um they would have let us know, I believe, um And and that came from multiple multiple sources. And one thing I found so fascinating was here in Seattle among executives among people who work and look at the projections for their labor needs. There's this fear palpable fear that Amazon is going to run out of workers because it is growing so fast and it is turning through people so quickly and there are parts of that short term model that worked for a lot of people. We talked to a lot of workers who were saying, you know, I was laid off at the pandemic from this restaurant and I came here and it got me through until you know. This is we were able to start opening dining again or vice versa. I worked in customer service at a retail store and oh, my God, I'm so glad to not deal with customers yelling in my face anymore and the second just come in, do my job and leave. And so it does. There is a degree to which it can. The short term model can really help people. But we also talk to a lot of people who really did want to stay for longer, and they were so excited to join this kind of pre eminent Employer and this preeminent company in the economy and thought, Oh, this is where I'm going to build my career and it's just very hard to build a career. If you're starting at the hourly breaks. They're just not that many ways to move up the ladder there. Just structurally. There's just not that much. And what we found is a lot of just, um, you know, uh, when when you have When you're one of 100 people your manager oversees. It's hard to have a real deep bond with your manager or with an employer was certainly harder during covid, obviously, with masks and distancing and all of that's harder to throw the parties and things that you might do. But it's hard to form a deep bond. And so when trouble happens or something comes up, it's just harder to get things solved and fixed. And and so part of, you know, you're talking about a workforce who has a very complicated life. You have Public transportation cars that breakdown childcare juggling with family all this stuff, you know very complicated things. And so while Amazon does have some flexibility and letting people Take some time off, Um and manage it on their own. The, uh, you know, obviously, it's there's still other things that come up and And there's some places where managers talked about being so proud of being extra flexible for their staff and breaking the rules to allow someone to stay another places where people were. We had an example in the story of a woman who had one bad day, just literally one day where everything was going wrong, she said. You know, it was not her fault. The machines were broken. She kept getting assigned different stations. And she was fired for too much time off task, which is too much time not actively working. Which is something an Amazon monitors. I should say Amazon change their policy. Um as we were closing our story, uh, so no longer community fired for a single bad day. Okay, But when you said that she was getting, um her tasks were being changed was that to an automated system or was there a human manager changing her tasks? There is, it's a little bit of a hybrid. There is ways that people's work is assigned. Um and the staffing levels are automated. But there is a person saying, Hey, you go to this part of the building or you go to that part of the building. We need you in. In the robotics area today or whatever it may be. Some people come and they have the same job every day in and out, and some people have jobs really kind of are trained on multiple parts of the business. But there is a huge, um, effort to manage schedules managed demands over time. If they have off your flexible time to take time off all of that, because They are very, very demand driven. Don't forget, we click and we get something two days later on our door. And so that means they almost named labor in a just in time model, But they're managing it with they don't really use temps and they don't use. Um uh Contract labor without much in the warehouses. So there it's this kind of hybrid of managing full time or part time workers but to meet the labor demands that are really set by customers and how much we order Yeah, And so Amazon, Uh, said to us that part of their turnover rate is driven by, um, the loss of those essentially what they called seasonal workers of those parts of those part time workers. It may come in for several months at a time just to want to make a note of that. But what you just said Karen was so fascinating because this is a company, probably the company. That's the most world famous feet for being customer obsessed right, which is what leads them.