Amazon warned employees that the busy season could make them suicidal

In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741741 (US), 686868 (Canada) or 85258 (UK). Wikipedia maintains a list of crisis lines for people outside those countries.

Amazon reaches peak end-of-peak — the term the company uses to refer to the winter holidays, as well as its own corporate holiday, Prime Day — when its employees are under the greatest pressure, often required to work overtime, and are not allowed to. to plan vacation days. It also coincides with the hiring of a deluge of temporary workers, with an additional 150,000 expected this year, the largest holiday wave to date.

It’s hectic at the best of times. But according to an internal email Engadget reviewed and the testimonials of four current or former employees who were given anonymity for fear of reprisal, it’s also a time of year when Amazon expects some of its staff to relieve their colleagues. , or on its own.

“Peak is a busy time for our entire team as everyone is committed to helping customers receive their vacation packages on time. It’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed,” the leaked Nov. 23 email reads. “And while most of us never pose a risk to others, some people may act in ways that give rise to concern. This can be due to many factors in their lives, not just what they experience at work. Regardless The cause, workplace violence is never the answer.” [Emphasis theirs]

The employee who delivered the email to Engadget couldn’t recall similar messages during previous spikes. “I’ve been with Amazon for a little over four years now and they’ve never said anything about our mental state until now,” they wrote in an email. “Our leadership has not announced anything” [other] than quota-related issues.”

The email goes on to link the grueling workload of peaks and the potential for self-harm. “Remember, your mental health matters,” it says. “If you’re experiencing stress, feelings of depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide, talk to your manager, an HR business partner, or a mental health professional.” It directs employees to use the company’s “free confidants and other resources.”

Two of the employees who spoke to Engadget recalled being shown a video on similar topics during their training.

“It was stupid stuff, like calling the HR center and talking about ‘if you feel like you want to hurt someone, tell your supervisor and you can leave work and go home.'” It was just such nonsense,” one recalls. The same employee stated that the human resources center is “like a black hole of ‘press this’, I don’t even know how to talk to a real person there.”

“They have a number that you call if you become suicidal or depressed from working too much,” another told Engadget. “They put on a video during the training where they talked about how many employees feel this way. And that was right after the revelation that we weren’t getting the schedules we wanted and we had to work 60 hours a week. After being told it would be 40.”

A 2019 report in the Daily Beast published some of the 911 calls made from several Amazon warehouses, including a pregnant worker who threatened to stab herself and her unborn child. Jace Crouch, a former employee quoted in the story, said that “people with a breakdown” [are] a regular occurrence” within these facilities.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to answer specific questions from Engadget, including whether the company had seen an increase in workplace violence. Instead, the company issued the following statement: “We know it’s been a rough year and a half for everyone, and like most large companies, we’re working to support our teams in many different ways. This means, among other things, that everyone who experiences stress in their private life or at work provides resources throughout the year and makes sure that they feel seen and can ask for help when they need it.”

Are you a techie with concerns about your job, safety or the work you have to do? Confidentially contact me on Signal at 646.983.9846

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