Every holiday season we hear how Amazon and other major retailers plan to dramatically increase their warehouse workforce with temporary staff. It can be intriguing to consider that new path in employment, but there are a few things you should know about the holiday rush, the training you’ll receive, and what a more traditional warehousing job could mean.
This year, in the U.S. alone, Amazon boosted its workforce by an estimated 40%, equivalent to 120,000 temporary employees. Let’s look at what that undertaking would mean for your career and where alternatives may be better.
Training 120,000 in Two Days
Amazon makes big news every holiday season with its warehouse employees and in 2016 we heard that it plans to train each new employee, all 120,000 of them, in two days through the use of robots and digital training.
Technology is going to be the main focus for Amazon because it’ll be used to do a lot of previously manual tasks from sorting to telling you what boxes and tape to use, giving you each step as you go. The downside is that when things go wrong, and things will go wrong when shipping millions of packages, you may not know how to proceed.
“Your standard warehouse job entails about six weeks of hands-on training. There’s a lot to learn, especially when it comes to safety and making sure orders are packed and fulfilled correctly each time. In a few days, you might be able to memorize the steps of your fulfillment job, but with all of today’s heavy equipment, forklifts, and robotics in the warehouse, you’re unlikely to know how to act safely in the situations you will face,” said Jake Rheude, Director of Business Development and Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment.
Holiday hires have everything timed
The Daily Mail sent a reporter undercover to Amazon’s distribution center in Glasgow and discovered a few things you’ll want to know when considering seasonal warehousing employment. The biggest takeaway is that money drives everything you do, so you’ll need to perform very well after those couple days of training.
Employees will be given time targets for every action, such as picking new items off of shelves in as little as seven seconds and timed restroom breaks. Warehouses need to meet tight deadlines and the larger, more commercialized the operation the tighter you can expect controls to be.
You’ll face time requirements in every warehouse, but smaller companies and those looking for full-time employees are less likely to have tight timeframes for taking care of your personal business.
Amazon isn’t the bad guy
The Amazon Prime service that 63 million people and businesses love means the brand needs to keep costs low to deliver its promise of low prices and fast delivery. Customer demand creates a lot of the company demands, and Amazon is so large that it endures most complaints.
It can be a great position if you’re just looking for part-time or seasonal work, it takes only a basic understanding of technology, and the main pressure point is that you need to be able to walk for 10 to 15 miles per shift.
The pay also can be decent if you’re willing to push into overtime hours.
But, it’s worth looking at smaller shops
Permanent positions in warehouses are almost always better than seasonal positions because the company has a lot more incentive to treat you well and give you the tools and time you need to fulfill orders.
Many permanent positions will have requirements similar to what Amazon asks, and seasonal work doesn’t necessarily prime you better for taking these permanent roles. You’ll be more familiar with the warehouse and packing system than a complete novice, but few companies will use your two days of Amazon training as a substitute for their own weeks of new employee training.
“One small warehouse benefit our team really loves, and the teams at almost all of the partner warehouses we’ve worked with over the years, is that you learn about the entire business. It creates a lot more opportunities for people to advance their career through education and training, giving people skills they need when their body says it’s time to stop moving boxes five days out of the week,” said Red Stag Fulfillment VP of Operations Brad West.
At the end of the day, you want a career path that looks past the teams collecting packages on warehouse floors because it’s a journey that will lead you to greater opportunity, career flexibility, and your own personal fulfillment.