Amazon Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos has called on the company to treat its employees better in his final letter at the helm of the online retailer. Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy will be taking over the company, and Bezos will be moving to the executive chairman position.
Amazon wins the union vote
In his letter, Bezos envisioned the company's future and committed to expanding its well-known obsession for treating its customers well to its employees. He called attention to the recent vote to unionize at Amazon's Bessemer, Ala. warehouse, adding that it is an example of why the online retailer must deal with problems in its workforce.
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Amazon won the union vote by a margin of two to one last week. If it had been successful, it would have been the first Amazon location in the U.S. to unionize.
Bezos noted that the results were "lopsided" and said the company's "direct relationship with employees is strong, but that it's clear to him that "we need a better vision for how we create value for employees — a vision for their success."
According to CNBC, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement that the vote at amazon triggered a conversion about the way Amazon treats its workers. He said that Bezos' "admission today demonstrates that what we have been saying about workplace conditions is correct." However, he added that the CEO's admission won't change anything and that employees need a union, "not just another Amazon public relations effort in damage control."
Amazon to be obsessed with employees too
The online retailer's core leadership principles include a statement that it is "customer obsessed." Bezos said that going forward, he wants Amazon to act the same way toward its workers.
"We have always wanted to be Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company," Bezos wrote. "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."
The CEO also denied allegations that the online retailer has built a harsh culture and work environment at its warehouses. Bezos said their workers "are sometimes accused of being desperate souls and treated as robots," adding, "That's not accurate."
What's next for Bezos?
When he takes over the executive chairman position, he wants to focus on improving safety at Amazon's warehouses. About 40% of work-related injuries are strains or sprains, mostly from repetitive motions and common among new workers.
To reduce such injuries, the online retailer is working on automated work schedules which move employees through a variety of jobs that use various groups of muscles and tendons. Amazon plans to start deploying the system later this year.
Amazon is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders' families.