Instead of decreasing productivity quotas or letting its workers unionize, Amazon has decided to, uh, launch a health and wellness program for its employees. The “WorkingWell” program includes “physical and mental activities, wellness exercises and health eating support” that are aimed at reenergizing workers and “ultimately reduce the risk of injury.”
There will be “wellness zones” where employees can stretch and hourly “mind and body” prompts that include “breathing exercises and mental reflections.” There are even so-called “AmaZen” interactive kiosks where workers can watch short videos on “guided meditations, positive affirmations, calming scenes with sounds” and more.
This initiative comes months after a recent report from the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that Amazon employees at automated facilities have a 50 percent higher rate of injury compared to other warehouses. Part of the issue is that workers are expected to scan 400 products every hour instead of about 100 items in the same time frame.
Amazon has frequently come under fire for other questionable practices as well. There have been reports of the company not letting its delivery drivers have bathroom breaks and forcing them to pee in bottles, Amazon delivery drivers getting into traffic accidents, draconian productivity quotas that lead to employees getting fired if they can’t reach them, plus grueling 10-hour shifts. Recently, the company was also accused of unlawfully intimidating its workers from forming a union.
For its part, Amazon has maintained that automation in its warehouse makes jobs safer and more efficient. It has also increased the pay of its workers by as much as $3 an hour and claims it is spending $300 million on safety projects this year.