One of the primary ways to evaluate the effectiveness of different human resource (HR) policies and concepts is by analysing the previous experiences of employment. Conducting a thorough analysis of previous employment places allows an individual to determine how different concepts within HR studies could be applied to address various issues or improve the overall working conditions for employees. This paper will focus on the analysis of my working experience in the HR department of Amazon company.
First, to determine and analyse how human resources are managed within a company, it is necessary to provide informational background for the organization’s activities and the purpose for the organization’s use of human resources. Amazon specializes in e-commerce and serves as an online retailer for an expansive range of products. According to data provided by Statista, in 2020, the Amazon.com company employed 1,298,000 full-time and part-time employees (Coppola, 2021). While the company’s activities also include several other subsidiaries in different spheres, the main function of Amazon is being a marketplace and a forwarding agent for merchandise put up for sale by third-party sellers. Therefore, the company’s operations predominantly take place in warehouses and shipping centres from where the stored merchandise is distributed to consumers in more than a hundred countries worldwide.
In addition, the company offers the consumers a subscription service Amazon Prime which allows a faster shipping service and delivery. Through my experience of working for the company, I was able to define that most of the company’s improvement efforts are focused on providing faster services to meet the requirements of consumers and sellers who use the marketplace for business purposes. Amazon spends nearly 35 billion dollars on shipping costs to provide fast shipping for customers (Scannell, 2020). While the full automatization of the orders assembly process could significantly improve the company’s effectiveness, there is no technological possibility yet to replace human resources in the process. In the concept of strategic human resource management, the organization’s strategic objectives could be liked with human resource function to improve performance (Janasz and Crossman, 2018). My experience in Amazon proves how the company’s strategy focused on sales speed improvements defined the employee management and HR policies.
Various companies and business organizations have different ways to derive competitive advantage from people and human resources. Some companies, such as Pixar, foster creativity within the company’s employees through learning opportunities and a safe environment for the creative process to benefit from unconventional ideas for animation films (Catmull, 2008). Other companies, such as SAS Institute, use help from outsourcing to maintain comfortable working conditions for full-time employees (Pfeffer, 1998). The case of HR policies in Amazon company could be used as a negative example, as in my opinion, it illustrates how companies utilize the competitive advantage provided by human resources.
In my perception, Amazon’s strategy focused on productivity and effectiveness results in increased performance requests for most employees. The performance aspect was addressed in the course in the article conducted by Hall, Lazear, and Madigan (2001), which focused on how the Safelite company approached the performance aspect. Amazon utilizes a wide system of penalties based on performance for most employees. The performance evaluation was initially designed to encourage employees to participate in teamwork and develop professional skills (Burton, 1998, p. 7). However, from my experience working in Amazon, implementation of the performance aspect resulted in a borderline unavoidable system of fines and penalties.
The issues of underpayments and unsuitable working conditions at Amazon were frequently discussed in media in reports covering how Amazon uses algorithms to calculate employees’ time off task (Wakefield, 2021). Several years ago, the company also introduced an employee wristband technology that allowed the company to monitor the placement of employees’ hands during the shift to maintain workforce productivity (Solon, 2018). Judging by my experience in the HR department, the overall management style in the company utilizes a similar approach with a heavy workload and stressful pacey environment. While I was not subjected to the strict policies applied to warehouse employees, I also experienced stress from the fast pace of work. Additionally, I felt that the job lacked additional support from managers as they also were busy with their work. The teamwork aspect was not thoroughly present due to individual performance standards imposed by the company policies.
Furthermore, the job design and motivation concept suggest that employees’ performance increases when the company provides them privacy and opportunities to make an input with their ideas. The case of Amazon illustrates the negative outcome of how performance could be increased without employee independence through increased monitoring. In my perception, employee independence cultivates professional skills development and personal growth. The control imposed by the management on other employees during my work in the company resulted in a stressful environment and increased staff turnover. According to Scammell (2021), Amazon’s turnover rate exceeds the standard of twelve to twenty percent with 3% each week, translating to 150% annually. Therefore, applying the job design and motivation concept to my experience at Amazon illustrates how cultivating a sense of attachment to the company’s mission and vision results in a lower turnover rate.
Next, the job characteristic model concept implies that certain core job characteristics connect to the individual’s psychological states and, therefore, result in positive outcomes, such as high levels of work motivation and satisfaction. The task significance aspect was covered, in my opinion, because as an employee, I understood that my input contributes to the meaningful work in providing quality services for the population and businesses. However, the others aspects that define the work motivation and job satisfaction I thought were missing. Therefore, in my perception, the company covers only one possible outcome of the job characteristic model, the high work effectiveness aspects.
From my experience, the HR policies in Amazon are predominantly focused on performance management and substantially lack the employee appraisal component. While the employee appraisal could be perceived as a manipulation tool, it presents a “high-potential vehicle” for staff motivation (Longenecker, Sims, and Gioia, 1987, p. 190). The current rewards system offers employees a discount on Amazon merchandise; however, the company does not provide a prime subscription discount for the employees. Another significant reward for Amazon employees is an opportunity to acquire a share of the company’s stocks, but the reward is available only for long-term employees (Shoot, 2018). The company is now considering removing the stock bonuses due to raising the minimum wages.
In conclusion, analysing HR policies in Amazon and the company’s use of strategic human resource management from my experience explains why the company currently experiences an extremely high level of employee turnover. First, to reach its main strategic objectives, the company utilizes human resource management in a way that, in my opinion, resembles machinery control rather than personnel administration. Next, due to lack of privacy, I had a low job commitment and motivation level and experienced troubles from stressful working conditions. Furthermore, because core job characteristics of skill variety and autonomy were missing, I expressed a low level of job satisfaction. Lastly, the company is not interested in providing the employees with an opportunity for professional growth, despite it being the essential asset of the company’s functioning (Hoffman, Casnocha, and Yeh, 2014). Thus, even though Amazon has significant influence in the online retail sphere and implements various technological innovations in its work, the company utilizes an unsuccessful HR policy imposed by its strategy.
Burton, D. (1998) Rob Parson at Morgan Stanley. Web.
Catmull, E. (2008) How Pixar fosters collective creativity. Web.
Coppola, J. (2021) Number of Amazon.com employees from 2007 to 2020.
de Janasz, S. C. and Crossman, J. (2018) Teaching human resource management. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Hall, B. J., Lazear, E. and Madigan, C. (2001) Performance pay at Safelite Auto Glass. Web.
Hoffman, R., Casnocha, B., and Yeh, C. (2014) The alliance: managing talent in the networked age. Harvard Business Review Press.
Longenecker, C.O., Sims, H. P. J., and Gioia, D. A. (1987) ‘Behind the mask: the politics of employee appraisal’, The Academy of Management Executive, 1(3), pp. 183-193. doi: 10.2307/4164751
Pfeffer, J. (1998) SAS Institute: a different approach to incentives and people management practices in the software industry. Web.
Scannell, E. (2020) Amazon bets big on last mile delivery service improvements.
Solon, O. (2018) Amazon patents wristband that tracks warehouse workers’ movements.
Wakefield, J. (2021) Amazon’s algorithms taken to task in landmark bill.