- Amazon.com is giving employees pay raises of up to 55 cents an hour, as the company faces continued scrutiny of the working conditions at its fulfillment centers, the Washington Post reported. But some employees aren't impressed; one worker said that the increases fall short and amount to what seems like "damage control" on the company's part, according to the Post. The mega-tech company has been announcing pay raises in "all hands" meetings and promoting benefits in animated videos.
- The pay increases range from 25 cents to 55 cents an hour for full-time warehouse workers in locations such as Orlando, Florida (25 cents), Coppell, Texas (35 cents), and Hebron, Kentucky (55 cents). These rate increases of 2% to 4% bring wages for employees to between $11.50 and $15.05 an hour.
- In an email to the Post, Amazon spokesperson Ashley Robinson said that wage increases are standard and that the company does annual evaluations of employees' pay to make sure wages are competitive. She also said in a separate email that the experience of the worker who made the "damage control" reference didn't represent the experience of the majority of workers. However, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a bill in the Senate calling on Amazon to pay its workers a living wage. Amazon paid the median worker $28,446 last year, said the Post, citing company filings, and has been slammed in the press for reportedly having thousands of its warehouse employees depend on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
This year in particular, retailers are raising wages and offering more favorable benefits to hourly workers to attract and retain them during what many predict to be a rough holiday season. But companies can't afford to ignore employees' reactions to their practices, whether positive or negative. Workers have many channels for going public with criticisms or praises of their workplace, including online rating sites, social media and even the media. A company's brand is at risk every time just one employee posts a negative message on social media or on an onsite ratings site, like Glassdoor or kununu — and such posts are often a sign of underlying issues that an employer needs to solve.
To not be caught flat-footed, employers may need to take a proactive role in surveying review sites and social media postings to get a sense of what is troubling workers or even, in the worst case, prompting them to leave. Establishing an internal feedback system by which workers can air their complaints to senior management and receive a response or commitment to action is a best practice. Genuine communication and a clear intention to actually solve problems are key next steps.
Sometimes a culture shift is necessary for both the company's and employees' sake. A culture focused on improving the employee experience from a worker's first day on the job and beyond can significantly impact job satisfaction and productivity. After all, culture should be seen as "a useable business tool" that an employer can use to their advantage, rather than a vague, fluffy definition, experts have said. That may mean an employer has to take a second-look at how the work is done and how it is rewarded to make actual, impactful changes that reap dividends.