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Burnout Syndrome by Design?Warehouse and shipping workers pay hidden costs for the holiday season

Christopher O’Neal, Jake Golden Fine, Jasan Sadowsky, Lauren Kate Kelly, Sao Fan,

Credit: AIXabay / CC0 public domain

What does Christmas mean? For many, it’s about cricket feasts, family, and naps.


But for an e-commerce giant like Amazon, Christmas is the most lucrative time of the year. During the 2020 holiday season, Amazon A $ 6.6 billion in sales..

And for warehouses and shipping workers who actually deliver these purchases to their destinations, the preparation period until Christmas is often longer and more demanding, with poor employment conditions and little employment security. Means work.

“In our research project onAutomated instability“We want to learn more about the workers’ experience to understand if the situation in Australia’s e-commerce warehouse is comparable to the situation documented abroad.

Christmas rush

Almost this year 4 out of 5 Australian households I plan to buy Christmas gifts online.

The enthusiasm begins with the manufactured “Shopping Holiday” on Black Friday. This follows the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, but has become a global event. Since one day wasn’t enough, Cyber ​​Monday will also be held with a clear focus on consumer spending on e-commerce platforms.

E-commerce and Christmas are so intertwined that Amazon’s senior manager, Dave Clark, “spokes his company’s warehouse.Santa’s workshop“.

“This is the season for employment and dismissal

We want to understand how seasonal shopping events, the possibility of warehouse automation, etc. are shaping the conditions for an increase in the number of logistics workers employed in e-commerce.

In Australia, Amazon Temporary employers of worker employment engaged through recruiters..Amazon Australia alone mobilizes over 1,000 people Seasonal workers For the Christmas rush.

This temporary workforce often experiences some of the most intense working conditions.Many workers are reported, except that there is no employment security You have to work at an accelerated pace for an incredibly long timeWith additional expectations, they will be available on the phone during the shopping season.

Burnout Syndrome by Design?

Traditional way of thinking worker Management suggests that there are benefits to maintaining workers to improve their skills and build loyalty to their employers.

But in the United States, Amazon is churn workers at an amazing pace. With an annual employee turnover rate of 150%, which is almost double the industry average, some executives saidThere is a shortage of workers“.

The urgency of seasonal shopping means that Amazon can push workers to the maximum, allowing them to work long hours to do physically demanding work at incredible speeds.

Managers do not necessarily have to dismiss a person when the rush is over.instead research When report Workers are suggesting to leave their own will, as their bodies can no longer handle tensions.

so Recent articlesMostafa Hennaway, a Canadian researcher and worker rights advocate, describes his experience working at the Amazon Fulfillment Center as follows:

“Amazon does not openly push people out. It lets work do it on its own.”

These conclusions are supported by reports on Amazon’s working conditions in the various countries in which Amazon operates. England When Italy..

The rapid burning of workers, unintentionally, is the result of how labor and conditions are designed.

Amazon workers in the United States report The app they use to manage their schedules also has a handy “Send Voluntary Resignation” button to help and automate the process.

Internal document Reportedly Shows Amazon executives to “closely track” and set goals for an indicator called “Turnover without Regret.” This is the percentage of workers who are willing to take a vacation every year. This applies to Amazon employees rather than temporary work, but it may suggest that stirring workers is a deliberate management strategy.

Not only does it synchronize labor needs with seasonal demands, but the rapid turnover of workers reduces the likelihood of organization and unionization.In the context of Continued fight for unionization by Amazon workersShort-term workers are less likely to become members and have the opportunity to seek better conditions.

We asked Amazon Australia if “burnout by design” was a deliberate strategy. Operations Director Craig Fuller said:

“These claims are unfounded. We are proud to provide our fulfillment center team members with a safe, enjoyable and supportive work environment all year round. Like all retailers. , Consecutive holiday season Is our busiest time and we are working hard to ensure that everyone working in our building is supported and has a positive experience at work. “

This year, we are hiring about 1,000 additional seasonal workers across Australia to support our existing workforce during the festive season. Although they are hired to work during the holidays, these seasonal opportunities can also show the way to employment and long-term careers at Amazon.

We continue to place great value and focus on the well-being and safety of our team.

Does automation fix it?

Online retailers are investing heavily in automation.

Amazon aims to complete a new A $ 500 million warehouse in western Sydney by Christmas. Will be the largest in australiaEquipped with a group of robots carrying items with a floor area of ​​about 200,000 square meters.

Automation and increased reporting Massive unemployment looming The risk of technology becoming obsolete can make workers feel threatened.

However, there are still many human workers in this highly robotized workplace. There are many things that even state-of-the-art warehouse robots are not good at yet, and that humans can do cheaper.

Workplace automation is arguably not a worker shift, but a push to keep up with the pace of machines and algorithms.Speeding up comes at a cost: Amazon warehouses in the US Injury rate 80% higher than industry standard..

Holidays are here

Following Amazon’s mid-year revenue growth “Prime Day” in June, businesses can expect to further expand their shopping holidays. The exhausted and volatile situation of seasonal work can spread over the rest of the year.

I’m worried that convenient online shopping may come at the expense of burnout, fatigue, and precarious work. This situation can be permanent without improving workers’ rights or tightening corporate regulations.


Amazon aims to hire 150,000 holiday season workers


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Quote: Burnout Syndrome by Design?Warehouse and shipping workers were taken from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-burnout-warehouse-shipping-workers-hidden.html on November 29, 2021 for the holiday season (11 2021). Pay the hidden costs of (29th of March)

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