One company benefiting from the current fluid and fearful COVID-19 situation is Amazon. So much so that, to meet the pandemic-induced surge in demand, they’re hiring an additional 100,000 workers, and paying existing delivery and warehouse workers $2 more an hour.
Amazon encouraged employees in other industries whose jobs were “lost or furloughed” as a result of the coronavirus to apply, including members of the hospitality, restaurant and travel industries. “We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back,” the company added.Amazon to hire 100,000 more workers and give raises to current staff to deal with coronavirus demands, CNBC, March 16, 2020
Yeah, no. That’s not completely true. Of course, if your employer’s business is no more, then Amazon has a place for you to continue working and bringing home a paycheck. But it’s not all altruism. Employees are leaving established businesses that have not been affected by COVID-19 to take the extra money Amazon is promising. They are actually hurting existing businesses to make bank on the crisis.
Some businesses will be hurt and furlough workers, but maybe those workers would be better off at home for the next month versus working in some mammoth Amazon distribution center with a bunch of people they don’t know. And the federal (and state) government is looking at helping people who were put out of work, and helping businesses through what may be the closest thing we’ve seen to a full-fledged depression as our economy grinds to a halt.
But Amazon isn’t grinding to a halt when they have goods to sell and deliver. And I’m not poo-poohing that effort. People can order literally anything useful for the home, and also food, from Amazon, which could be a life saver for the homebound.
However, hiring 100,000 people just so everyone gets their goodies in one or two days for the next month or two, drawing some of these employees from jobs they have had for years, isn’t really helping anyone but Jeff Bezos.
When this crisis has passed, and everyone sighs with relief (“what am I going to do with those 16 cases of Clorox wipes now?”) and stops panic buying stuff they don’t need (that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stock up on things you do need–you should), what will Amazon do with their greatly inflated workforce?
They’ll lay them all off.
When we slide into a recession, what will Amazon do with all those raises?
They’ll hire new people and let the highly paid ones go.
And then, those people who took the jobs won’t be so grateful they chose to work for Amazon for a few precious months.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Amazon, personally. For full disclosure and transparency, I’m a Prime member and a shareholder. I just think they’re being too ambitious and short-sighted. They are asking 100,000 people to join them just when people need to be distancing themselves.
I’m no fan of government handouts, but I’d rather see Congress handle the relief of folks impacted by the pandemic, and have them return to work at the small businesses, shops, factories, and service organizations where they had jobs before the crisis, than to see them all become assimilated into the Amazon hive and then ejected when they are no longer necessary.
If you are thinking about taking one of those jobs, you might want to think twice. If you take the job, in two months, don’t say I didn’t warn you.