It was like a storage cabinet. Others compared it phone booth, or portable toilet.
The Twitter video posted by Amazon on May 27 was actually the AmaZen station, one of an unknown number of “individual interactive kiosks” presented to Amazon objects.
“With AmaZen, I wanted to provide a quiet place where people could go and focus on their mental and emotional well-being,” says Leyla Brown, Amazon’s Workplace Health and Safety Manager, whose voice accompanies the deleted footage. : concept: The camera moves to the interior of AmaZen, which is decorated with greenery, posters, and a small desktop computer.
Points: are part of WorkingWell, A “comprehensive plan” announced last month by Amazon to improve employee health and safety, as well as reduce the risk of injury, the company said in a blog post. Brown used his ancestor in sports medicine to create AmaZen. Said Amazon.
The concept began as a “on-site clinics” pilot program and was later transferred to the company’s production floor. The e-commerce giant said employees could watch videos at booths, facilitating “guided meditations, positive affirmations, and soothing scenes.”
None of these details have saved AmaZen from internet ridicule. The Guardian has revealed social media posts describing it as “Cabinet of despair“New York Magazine expressed an opinion that “Even dystopia would like to win” in it.
The comments came amid ongoing criticism of Amazon’s employment policy. Ahead of the recent union election at the Amazon Execution Center in Alabama, The Guardian spoke with employees of the facility who complained about the lack of breaks and the “relentless pace” of work. September 2020 – Reveal news report discussed the level of damage in performance centers : presented data showing that such injuries increased during the weeks of high demand.
Amazon Performance Centers are known for their production quotas and fast-paced workloads, says Lamar Pierce, Professor of Strategy at the University of Washington, D.C. “Managers working at these facilities have incentives that are ‘almost always’ aimed at ‘getting your people to work and move around,'” he said.
Such fast-paced work in an environment where employees’ time is carefully tracked can be even more stressful. It is unclear, he added, whether AmaZen will address the fundamental issues in the day-to-day design of work that affect employees’ mental health.
“My first reaction is creative” He said good things about Amazon. “Of course, everything is different. But then it felt like a Band-Aid approach to me. ”
“A short break from meditation or meditation can have some benefit for employees’ mental health, although the question of how effective AmaZen will be in this regard is indeed a medical issue,” Pierce said. “I think it’s a medical issue, but how they were formulated does not seem to be approached as a medical issue.”
Alternatively, employers seeking to address the mental health problems of their workforce may involve medical professionals, says Pierce, a combination of clinical psychologists, professional counselors, and possibly psychiatrists. “If you are not a psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional, it is better to be careful about how you evaluate the improvement of mental health,” he added.
Asked if Brown referred to any academic study or research to develop ma AmaZen executives, Amazon declined to comment in a letter to HR Dive, but said that WorkingWell և components were developed using “scientifically Proven physical and mental activity, health. ” Exercise և Healthy Eating Support. ”
Other potential issues are whether Amazon employees will feel able or comfortable using AmaZen, given the pace of work required of them. Good noted that it may be unclear whether employees will be given time to use the kiosks. Amazon also declined to comment on this point, but offered preliminary information that employees may use WorkingWell components during their shifts or breaks.
Employees may also have privacy concerns about AmaZen. Pierce asked what data Amazon can collect from its affiliates as employees use it.
“If I work at a distribution center … I would be nervous to spend time on one of these things,” Pierce said, “just because you do not know what they do with that data.”
The other side of AmaZen’s story is about employee well-being developments, including physical, mental, and emotional health, while stress, anxiety, and exhaustion have increased, in part due to the epidemic and subsequent economic downturn.
Pew Research reveals February survey of US adults About one-fifth of US adults They experienced psychological distress when such reactions were more common among young people aged 18 to 29, those with lower family incomes, disability or health status.
The guardians were also particularly affected. A 2020 survey by e-commerce company Carewell found that 64% of US family care providers They said they felt depressed Due to stress related to care, 70 70% of those who continued to work outside the home reported being out of work.
Whether or not Amazon tries to counter the criticism with AmaZen, the reality is that its competitors have also invested in mental health issues. Walmart, arguably Amazon’s strongest competitor in retail, has provided extended free consulting services US store partners and their families weeks before WorkingWell announced. Last year, Target held free consultation sessions also.
Studies on the effectiveness of health programs have yielded mixed results. One such example is the Illinois Workplace Wellness Study, an academic study focused on the implementation of the iThrive Workplace Health Program offered to staff at Urbana-Champaign University in Illinois.
According to a Announcement published in May 2020, study participants were randomly assigned to either a treatment group eligible to participate in a two-year comprehensive workplace health plan or a control group that was not eligible. The researchers collected 12- և 24-month measures, offered paid leave for on-site health research, health risk assessment, and specific health activities.
Last year, researchers said the program increased the proportion of employees who said they had a primary care physician, improved employees’ beliefs about their health, but the researchers found no significant impact on staff health measures or medical use.
David Molitor, a professor of finance at the University College of Business, co-director of the study, told HR Dive that one of the main lessons of the study was how employers assessed the effectiveness of their health plans. In particular, ineffective programs may seem effective at first glance because of the types of people who decide to participate or not, he said.
Pierce opposed the study of Illinois a separate one, which he co-authored in 2017, which studied the impact of a corporate health program on the productivity of 111 employees in a group of laundry plants. The researchers found that healthy individuals who improved their health through the program increased their productivity by “about 10%” with additional improvements in diet and exercise.
Compared to the Illinois study, Pierce said the study of laundry workers involved “almost everyone” because the workers in the latest study were mostly low-income workers who did physical work and did not have “high access to health care.” Through the program, participants received demonstrations that sometimes revealed underlying issues they were not even aware of, such as prediabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.
“These people are doing physical work, throwing carpets … everyone knows that type 2 diabetes is really bad for energy and physical activity,” says Pierce. “Once you find those items, there are effective steps you can take to improve them.”
The two studies do not contradict each other, Pierce said. “What they are doing shows that it really depends on the context … there is no answer as to whether health programs work. “The real question is who they work for.”
But providing access to concepts such as AmaZen for health programs, including consulting services, is only part of what organizations can do to address employee welfare issues. He added that employers should be aware that attitudes towards working with employees are becoming a “public health concern”, and that managers also have a role to play in recognizing employees’ mental health issues.
“It’s a good situation,” Good said. “At one level, these are the individual medical problems that do not need to be shared with employers. “But I think supervisors are at the forefront of identifying these issues for their employees.”
Good also noted that at the grassroots level, employers, including Amazon, are struggling to meet their production goals by overcoming the stress of providing the welfare their employees need. “I think Amazon does what it does, it does what they have, because they have the budget to support it,” he said. “The only way they know how to do it is to drive a car [employees] It’s really difficult with those results. “