Amazon is launching a new series of health programs called WorkingWell designed to prevent workplace injuries in the company’s expansive system of warehouses and distribution centers in the US. While the new health program is an attempt to address the 40 percent of work-related injuries Amazon has identified as musculoskeletal disorders (think carpal tunnel syndrome or back pain), it doesn’t come with any changes to the long shifts and demanding working conditions that might cause them.
As part of WorkingWell, workers will have dedicated meetings to watch videos covering health and safety topics, and designated spaces for stretching and meditating at work. Depending on the station and job, some workers will also receive timed video prompts to guide them through stretching and mental wellness exercises (Amazon calls these “Mind and Body Moments”). Amazon also plans to stock more healthy snacks in break rooms to round out the health-focused lifestyle it’s trying to promote.
Outside of the warehouse, Amazon says it’ll offer “Neighborhood Wellness Centers” for some of employees’ primary care needs — covering everything from filling prescriptions and offering vaccines, to ongoing care like physical therapy. Because this is a tech company trying to tackle “health,” there’s also a mobile app that will collect all of Amazon’s educational videos and guided AmaZen meditations (yes, that’s the name) for employees to use at home.
In March, Amazon was criticized for how it uses gamification to increase employee performance, and it’s hard to not see WorkingWell as an extension of that kind of thinking. It arrives after Jeff Bezos told shareholders the company needs to “do a better job for our employees,” but it seems to help make the case that the kinds of structural changes the various Amazon unions are trying to win are far better than anything the company is willing to freely offer.
Amazon plans to offer WorkingWell in all of its US operations network by the end of 2021.