Amazon 'ambassadors' take to Twitter to defend working conditions
- A group of Amazon workers on Twitter have adopted the moniker "FC Ambassador" to share positive thoughts and stories about working conditions, pay and benefits at the e-commerce giant.
- FC ambassadors are Amazon employees who have experience working in the company's fulfillment centers, an Amazon spokesperson said in an email to HR Dive, and are part of the company's official outreach efforts. "The most important thing is that they've been here long enough to honestly share the facts based on personal experience."
- The campaign faced backlash from Twitter users, some of whom pointed to concerns regarding the company's safety records and work conditions. Media reports vary on how FC ambassadors are compensated; Yahoo! Finance reporter Krystal Hu (quoting a former FC ambassador) said that ambassadors may receive "a day off, an Amazon gift card and some time away from packing boxes," while the company previously said FC ambassadors "choose to take the role" and "do this full time, and receive the same compensation and benefits."
Social media channels can be a high-risk proposition for employers, who are generally more often concerned about the implications of employee social media use and whether online activities are protected by the law. Some organizations have instead opted to leverage social media for messaging to workers or candidates as part of engagement and recruiting efforts. Amazon's program, however, falls more under the umbrella of reputation management.
The company is no stranger to criticism of its working conditions. Employees have complained of issues ranging from low wages (with some workers reportedly needing SNAP benefits) and overtime violations to a program that one employment lawyer termed an internal "kangaroo court." Amazon recently attracted the attention of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who circulated a petition urging the company to improve conditions.
IMO the work environment is great at Amazon. We have everything and anything we need to do our job. If we have any issue or problems at work it is encouraged that we speak out. Not only that but I've made a lot of new friends here. #AmazonFriends #AmazonFamily— Jeremy - Amazon FC Ambassador ???? (@AmazonFCJeremy) August 26, 2018
Amazon counters such criticism in part by pointing to other aspects of its employment proposition, namely its tuition reimbursement program, retirement plans and paid parental leave. An Amazon spokesperson previously told HR Dive that the goal of these programs is to offer "egalitarian benefits" that are the same for all employees, regardless of rank.
The FC Ambassador episode may end up being an important case study for HR professionals in creating brand authenticity in the face of criticism on highly visible public platforms. And as security concerns proliferate on the web, employers may want to pay attention to how employees talk about work on social media and also to concerns about account impersonation, or "spoofing," that can pose a threat to organizational reputation.
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