Amazon’s news headlines recently haven’t been the best for the company’s image. From challenges to working conditions to political accusations of possible antitrust issues, Amazon has been managing a series of difficult news cycles. In response, the company has come out with a big, positive message… one that comes with a lot of zeroes.
According to various media reports, Amazon plans to offer more than $500 million as a “thank you bonus” to workers who stayed with the company through the difficult month of June, when orders were up and morale was down, after the company chose to eliminate a $2 per hour wage increase, as well as double overtime pay, for frontline workers.
Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, Dave Clark, praised workers when delivering the news. He said: “Our front-line operations team has been on an incredible journey over the last few months, and we want to show our appreciation with a special one-time thank you bonus totaling over $500 million…”
How much each employee will receive will depend on their position, as well as some other work-related factors, but the one-time individual worker bonuses are expected to range from the hundreds into the thousands of dollars.
The announcement offers some positive news for a company that’s been dealing with a host of PR issues recently. In addition to antitrust issues and employee complaints, Amazon has to respond to a lawsuit alleging “lack of protections” for employees at risk of contracting COVID-19, as well as the news that the New York Attorney General’s office was interviewing workers as part of an investigation into Amazon’s safety measures in place to protect workers from COVID-19.
Amazon addressed those concerns directly, saying the company has “taken a variety of steps” in order to prevent the spread of the virus, even as they find ways to deal with hugely increased demand from a country mostly staying at home. In its response, Amazon says the company has already made more than 150 process changes in order to “enhance safety,” adding that COVID-19 has already cost the company more than $600 million.
Even with this investment, the company continues to face increased scrutiny over workplace conditions for its employees, especially at the 110 North American fulfillment centers. Critics allege that these conditions may have contributed to the death of ten employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
As Amazon makes the big announcement about employee bonuses, these other stories percolate in the background, giving critics easy ammunition and offering a unique PR challenge for a company that is enjoying a significant increase in consumer business as well as negative headlines.