Working for Amazon is not easy. Although the benefits are quite rewarding, it’s a demanding workplace. In order to create some safety net for employees who stand the risk of getting fired, Amazon decided last year to launch a program called Pivot. The program was designed to help employees get back on track in line with Amazon’s standards.
But 18 months after the program was first implemented, it’s attracting the dissent of employees at the company. Some employees have questioned just how fair the program actually is. A new report by Bloomberg has revealed that employees are dissatisfied with the program, especially with the hearings. The Pivot program was launched in January 2017. At the time, Amazon was facing accusations of irresponsibly handling its employees and in response, the company decided to launch this program.
Pivot works in a simple way. Workers who find themselves on the list of the so-called “Performance Improvement Plan” are given three options. First, they can quit and get a severance pay. Secondly, employees can spend the next few months trying to prove their worth to the company by meeting a set of performance objectives, or finally face a panel of peers in a video conference like a trail in court.
The face-to-face panel was created to give employees a chance to appeal Amazon’s decisions to place them under the “performance improvement plan” category. It’s basically Amazon’s version of probation appeal. Employees have to appear through representation before a team of their peers together with their bosses and argue their case.
However, it’s emerging from the Bloomberg report that these hearings are in fact a “Kangaroo court.” So, this is how the hearings work. First, both parties get statements from the opposing side in order to adequately prepare. Employees then get representation. They don’t have access to the live hearings. The only thing they have a say on is the choice of the panel hearing their case. Employees are given the chance to raise any concerns they have with either member of the three panelists chosen to hear their case. However, Amazon still retains the right to pick the panelists as it sees fit.
Although this may seem like a fair approach to help employees, it’s not as easy as it looks. A jury-style trial has its challenges and employees have to go through this stressful process until its completion. 70 percent of the people who went through these trials didn’t succeed in their appeal. As such, they were only left with the two options out of three listed above.
But even those who won did have a few challenges too in transitioning back to their teams. Amazon also offered an option to switch teams through its “career ambassadors” for appeal winners. Details about the Pivot program have never been shared. The only thing Amazon has ever said since the program was launched is that it’s happy with the progress it has made. The company also maintained that the program continues to get support from its employees. But the Bloomberg report saw it differently revealing that dissent towards the program among employees is growing.