Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sent his final letter to shareholders and shared his vision of better conditions for Amazon workers. He wants to extend Amazon’s famous obsession over its customers to the same level of care for its employees.
The Amazon CEO will step down from his post in the third quarter. Afterward, he will turn the position to Andy Jassy, the Amazon CEO for Web Services. Meanwhile, Bezos will assume his new role as executive chairman of the board.
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Recent Union Election
Bezos referred to the recent union election in Alabama as the need to address challenges for its employees. Amazon’s Alabama warehouse voted not to unionize, which would have been the first union at any Amazon workplace.
“While the voting results were lopsided and our direct relationship with employees is strong, it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees — a vision for their success,” said Bezos,
The online giant is known for its “customer obsessed” philosophy, which is a key leadership principle. Bezos wants to apply the same principle applied to their employees.
“Despite what we’ve accomplished, it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for our employees’ success,” Bezos said. “We have always wanted to be Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company. We won’t change that.
It’s what got us here. But I am committing us to an addition. We are going to be Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work,” he added.
Workers Need a Union, Not A Public Relations Effort
Meanwhile, Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, said the recent election highlighted how Amazon treats workers.
“Bezos’s admission today demonstrates that what we have been saying about workplace conditions is correct. But, his admission won’t change anything, workers need a union – not just another Amazon public relations effort in damage control,” Appelbaum remarked.
However, the Amazon CEO denied that the company cultivated a brutal workplace culture in its warehouses. “Our employees are sometimes accused of being desperate souls and treated like robots.
That’s not accurate,” he said. In his new role as executive chairman, he said he plans to focus on how to make Amazon’s warehouses safer. With the majority of injuries due to sprains or strains caused by repetitive activities, he said Amazon is developing ways to address this.
One solution is developing automated staffing schedules. Consequently, this will rotate employees through different jobs that use different muscle-tendon groups. Amazon expects to deploy the technology later this year.
Ease Shareholders’ Fear
Also in his letter, Bezos reassured shareholders that the company’s focus will remain sharp even as he steps down later this year. Specifically, he reiterated that it “remains Day 1” and highlighted continued growth at Amazon.
He mentioned recent records for Amazon, including 200 million Prime subscribers, which is now numbering 200 million, up from 150 million years ago.
“If any shareowners are concerned that Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work might dilute our focus on Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company, let me set your mind at ease.
Think of it this way. If we can operate two businesses as different as consumer e-commerce and AWS, and do both at the highest level, we can certainly do the same with these two vision statements. In fact, I’m confident they will reinforce each other,” he wrote.
Watch the CNBC video reporting that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos releases his final letter to shareholders, addresses union vote:
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