Amazon Takes the Human out of HR and It Doesn’t Go Well

98 percent of everything’s going great — people are having the right experiences,” said Amazon HR leader Ofori Agboka.

That sounds amazing. A lot of us would be thrilled to have 98 percent of things going great in our lives, but when it comes from Amazon, a company with 1.3 million people, that means it’s not going well for 26,000 people.

The New York Times discussed the troubles of employees at a large warehouse on Staten Island called JFK8. With Covid shutting down brick and mortar stores, work went up at Amazon. Growth is difficult for any company, and with such a large number of employees, it makes sense that Amazon automated as much as possible.

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4 thoughts on “Amazon Takes the Human out of HR and It Doesn’t Go Well

  1. Nope, that 98% figure cannot be correct, since 3% of Amazon employees leave every month. In fact, they’re starting to worry about exhausting their pool of potential employees very soon. Inflexible policies and practices of — incessantly — working people to their very limits, day after day, inevitably, lead to exhaustion, burn out and high turnover. They also — ultimately — backfire, since they drive down employee morale and productivity. It’s been reported that Amazon has recently modified its employment practices, so that a single “bad day” — meaning, the employee did not maintain their exceedingly-high production pace — no longer results in automatic termination. It’s unclear how many “bad days” are now allowed. But, every day in which increasingly stressed employees are mercilessly driven to work faster, without interruption or allowable exceptions, would be a “bad day” for me.

    1. The thing is that the high level of turnover is a FEATURE not a bug, in their estimation. It’s only now that they are beginning to realize that it might not work quite as well as they think because they are going to have a hard keeping up with the pace of hiring.

  2. I’m curious–what’s the success rate for non-automated HR processes in similar-sized companies? What I mean is, yes, it’s tragic that those 2% aren’t having the right experience (no sarcasm here, I’ve been there and sympathize), but if non-automated systems have a 4% failure rate Amazon’s system is still an improvement.

  3. Yes, I agree speaking with a chatbot can be extremely frustrating but as long as there’s an option to speak with a human person (either through a live chat or an actual phone call), this is a solvable problem, which does eliminate the HR personnel from dealing with an overly anxious person for something that they can get information for if they are patient enough to read. listen or follow the instructions. I personally think that most people who rely on technology for instantaneous answers have not developed the ability to focus on the information given in a written form, which also requires one to get all the nuances inferred. (think explaining a tech or medical issue in actual wordings versus medical or tech jargon). While there are some things that need a real-life person to help, filling out paperwork does not need HR to fill out this information. HR’s role is to get that paperwork processed. In the situation described in the article, that person, who had an incapacity issue with dealing with the paperwork,should have had assistance from someone outside the work to do that for them.

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