- Amazon warehouse workers in the UK fell asleep on the job or collapsed working 55-hour workweeks and trying to pack 120 items per hour, according to The Independent. Alan Selby, a journalist for Sunday Mirror, worked at the plant undercover for five weeks and photographed the over-exhausted employees. Ambulances were called in to help workers that collapsed on the job.
- Amazon reportedly had employees on timed bathroom breaks, a claim it denies. It also made some workers do compulsory overtime ahead of the holiday period, which accounted for the 55-hour workweek. Employees told Selby that they had to work through physical injuries to keep up with the workload.
- Amazon said in a statement that it provides "a safe and positive workplace" but that it also expects "a certain level of performance." The company added that it does not evaluate associates day-by-day, but over a long period of time.
The holiday push is particularly difficult for retailers, who must grapple with increased warehouse demand due to the rise of e-commerce. Overall, such jobs tend to be higher quality with better wages — though warehouse work is by no means easy.
At the very least, a work environment that puts employees at risk for injuries or illness face higher healthcare costs and workers compensation claims. It pays for employers to keep workers as healthy as possible and to correct conditions that threaten their well-being. Managers trained to spot overworked, stressed out employees can adjust workloads and encourage frequent breaks as necessary.
Employers also have their reputations as good places to work to consider, even corporate giants like Amazon. A recent survey by CareerArc found that only 1 in 5 job seekers apply to companies with poor online ratings. Companies' poor treatment of employees is the easiest way to earn a poor online reputation.
Unfortunately for employers, an Energage survey found that ratings accurately reflect companies' cultures, even with the built-in review bias that occurs when mostly people who leave write them — and with such sites growing in popularity and regular use, employers can't afford to ignore it.