In lieu of allowing workers to take bathroom breaks, have reasonable productivity quotas or form a union, Amazon is reportedly seeking to boost morale and reduce workplace injuries in its warehouses by rolling out a new health and wellness program that taps into the ancient powers of deep breathing and positive visualization.
WorkingWell, as the program has been dubbed, was first announced in a Monday press release as part of Amazon’s new $300 million initiative to become “Earth’s safest place to work.” The program’s predominant focus will be on “providing employees with physical and mental activities, wellness exercises, and healthy eating support that are scientifically proven to help them recharge and reenergize, and ultimately reduce the risk of injury.”
Amazon’s history of offering abysmal working conditions is well-documented at this point. Delivery drivers have gone on the record to say that stopping for any reason whatsoever during their 14-hour shifts — including to use the restroom — is generally discouraged by dispatchers. In 2019, a warehouse worker who suffered a fatal heart attack laid on the floor for 20 full minutes before receiving any treatment from Amazon’s internal safety responders. And a recent report from the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that at Amazon’s automated facilities, workers have a 50 percent higher rate of injury when compared to workers at other warehouses, stemming partly from the fact that workers are expected to scan 400 products every hour — roughly quadruple the expectation at competing facilities.
While attempts to organize internally to demand better working conditions have been summarily squashed by Amazon, the company will now happily offer benefits like AmaZen stations — kiosks where employees can “watch short videos featuring easy-to-follow wellbeing activities, including guided meditations, positive affirmations, calming scenes with sounds, and more.” In a separate effort, the new program will also feature signage in onsite breakrooms “...displayed to highlight healthy choices such as fruit, granola bars, and vegetable snack packs” and designated wellness zones where employees can engage in “voluntary stretching and muscle recovery.”
It was not immediately clear whether or not the WorkingWell program would also include reusable water bottles (efficient AND green!) for employees to relieve themselves in after being forced to skip a bathroom break while on the clock.