Working in the Amazon Fulfilment Centre Network
The Amazon EU Operations network consists of more than twenty fulfilment centres comprising a total of almost 18 million square feet. In the UK there are eight fulfilment centres, totaling over 5 million square feet and over 4.3 million cubic feet of storage capacity. Our European network means that Amazon customers in the UK can choose from more than ten million products stored in our fulfilment centres across Europe, while at the same time our UK fulfilment centres dispatch packages to tens of millions of customers across Europe as well as in the UK.
Amazon employs more than 5,800 permanent employees across its UK fulfilment centres. Amazon has invested over £1 billion in its UK Operations and we hired thousands of permanent employees in our UK fulfilment centres in 2013 alone.
To manage variation in customer demand and as a way of finding high-quality permanent employees we also engage seasonal associates. At periods of peak demand, seasonal associates play a critical role in helping to meet increased demand from customers. We created 15,000 seasonal positions in the run up to Christmas 2013.
Fulfilment centre pay
In the UK, permanent associates start at a minimum of £7.10 per hour increasing to a median of £8.00 per hour after 24 months. In addition, after one year all permanent associates receive stock grants which over the past five years have added an average of 12% to base pay annually. Other benefits for permanent employees include private medical insurance, a company pension plan, life assurance, income protection and an employee discount.
Temporary associates earn more than 90% of Amazon permanent employees’ starting wages in their first 12 weeks. After this point, they receive the same pay as permanent associates.
Currently over 95% of seasonal associates in our fulfilment centres work a 40 hour week. In addition, we have agreements with our employment agencies that all seasonal associates will be paid for no less than 20 hours of work per week, even when 20 hours of work is not available.
The Amazon team
The safety of associates is our number one priority. We care for our associates’ wellbeing and maintain a culture of direct dialogue and innovation. As we continue to grow, we continue to learn, innovate and improve in order to meet the high expectations of our customers. Every associate plays a key role, and we’re committed to treating them with dignity and respect.
We offer on-the-job training and opportunities for career progression with over 315 employees promoted in the last 18 months alone.
In the UK fulfilment centre network, associates work four ten-hour shifts per week meaning they benefit from three days off every week. This shift pattern helps us improve our ability to provide fast delivery for our customers and gives associates another day for free time and social activities. Fewer visits to work are likely to save associates both time and money on a weekly basis and could reduce the impact on the environment as a result of less commuting for thousands of employees.
One way we encourage engagement is through the Associate Forums which exist in all of our fulfilment centres. These Forums consist of a group of associates elected by their peers to represent all associates, and who meet and communicate regularly with the fulfilment centre management team. We believe in an open discussion culture and want our leadership teams to foster open communication at all levels – when there are areas for improvement, we work on those jointly. As an example, the Associate Forums in UK fulfilment centres have been instrumental in the successful and smooth implementation of the new shift pattern.
We also ensure managers, from all areas of our business, spend part of their induction training performing a variety of roles in our fulfilment centres which helps to develop relationships between not only managers and employees but also departments.
The safety of our associates is our number one priority
From April 2012 to October 2013, Amazon’s RIDDOR rate (the “Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations” as defined by the UK Health and Safety Executive) was less than 40% of the average for companies reporting under the same industry code, “Warehousing and Support Activities for Transport”, (HSE Div 52)”. In addition to having a highly favorable injury rate as compared to similar companies, there have been 14 visits by Environmental Health Officers or the Health and Safety Executive to Amazon fulfilment centres since January 2012. During these visits, there have been no enforcement actions, and on several occasions our facilities have been commended for the safety of their operations.
Productivity, performance and attendance
Like most companies, we have performance expectations. Productivity targets are set objectively, based on previous performance levels achieved by our workforce. Associate performance is measured and evaluated over a long period of time as we know that a variety of things could impact the ability to meet expectations in any given day or hour.
Like most companies, Amazon also has a fair and predictable system to record employee attendance.
Kaizen and defects reduction
We continuously work to streamline our processes and eliminate defects and we empower all of our associates to innovate to help achieve this. Doing so drives a better customer experience, including faster delivery and lower costs that enable lower prices for Amazon customers. We use many systematic methods to make work processes easier and more efficient, including the "Kaizen" programme, derived from the Japanese term meaning "change for the better". Through the Kaizen programme, associates, working in small teams, can identify areas for improvement giving them the opportunity to influence their working environment and streamline processes. In 2013, more than 600 associates participated in 175 Kaizen activities across the UK. For example, a team at Amazon’s Rugeley fulfilment centre recently developed a new shipping dock process to improve the flow of material and reduce the walking time for the associates in this area.
In every fulfilment centre, management spend an hour every day carrying out a ‘Gemba walk’. During this walk, management spend time walking through the centre to discover what’s working well and what could be improved. These are a highly visible way for management to review every area and process in the fulfilment centre. Management and associates engage in direct dialogue and associates use this time to provide their feedback and views. Management and associates then work together to decide and prioritise outcomes from the Gemba walk displaying these on a noticeboard to clearly communicate next steps. This structured process is not a replacement for the informal discussions that constantly take place between our managers and associates but it does provide a very useful routine which ensures that our managers are connected to their associates on a daily basis.
We have a culture focused on safety and continuous improvement, and we understand that our progress depends on good execution and good judgment from thousands of employees. Together, we're working hard to make sure that we are better tomorrow than we are today.
We support local registered charities close to our fulfilment centres as well as national charities. You can learn more at www.amazon.co.uk/community.