Amazon to Pilot 30-Hour Work Week

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Amazon to Pilot 30-Hour Work Week

By CGT Staff - 08/31/2016
Amazon is known for experimenting with various innovations and technology, but it's latest pilot program focuses on its workforce. According to an article on The Washington Post, the program will have a few technical teams made up entirely of part-time workers. These 30-hour employees will be salaried and receive the same benefits as traditional 40-hour workers, but they will receive only 75 percent of the pay full-time workers earn. Currently, the company employs part-time workers that share the same benefits as full-time workers. However, the pilot program would differ in that an entire team, including managers, would work reduced hours.

"We want to create a work environment that is tailored to a reduced schedule and still fosters success and career growth," states a posting by the company on Eventbrite.com for an informational seminar. "This initiative was created with Amazon's diverse workforce in mind and the realization that the traditional full-time schedule may not be a 'one size fits all' model."

While Amazon has not commented on why it is piloting this shorter work week, various articles on the topic offer different theories for the experiment.

According to the washingtonpost.com article:

The announcement comes a year after the company faced criticism after a New York Times report described Amazon as a company that encouraged employees to work upward of 80 hours a week while rarely taking vacation. Amazon senior vice president Jay Carney published a response letter on Medium saying that the story “misrepresented” the company and offering Amazon's perspective.

Amazon did not comment on whether this program was in relation to the New York Times report.

The article "was a huge blow, from an employer attractiveness point of view," says Rita McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School who focuses on strategy and innovation. Piloting reduced hours could be the company's latest experiment with ways to attract top talent, she says. "Amazon is constantly pushing and trying new things as a company. They fail a lot, but it's worth it to stay innovative."

The program could also help to improve Amazon's diversity, says McGrath. Along with other top tech firms, Amazon has not balanced its female-to-male worker ratio, especially in areas of leadership, where men make up 76 percent of management positions across the company globally. A 30-hour workweek could help encourage more female workers, who tend to take on more household and child-care responsibilities than men in the domestic sphere.

Amazon did not comment on whether the program is an attempt to diversify its staff. But McGrath points out that wanting diverse employees has pragmatic advantages. "Amazon isn't very good at promoting and keeping women, and the irony is that Amazon's customer base is very diverse," says McGrath. "So you have this kind of deaf ear in tech to this vital group of customers."

"It offers an opportunity to tap into people that you wouldn’t normally because of the way you structure your workweek," she says.

According to an article by Fortune, " ... this is about more than just one company’s culture. The idea of a work week of 30 hours or less also speaks to several large-scale issues around technology and employment. More and more voices are arguing that automation is lowering overall labor demand in the economy, a trend that will only increase. A 30 hour work week is seen by some as a way to more evenly distribute the shrinking pool of labor among workers, and reduce the potential of automation to increase income inequality."

To read these articles in their entirety, visit:
*Amazon is piloting teams with a 30-hour workweek

*Amazon Tests 30-Hour Work Week