Business Insider Edition

Amazon is trying to make working in its warehouses like playing a video game

Dennis Green , Business Insider US
 May 22, 2019, 08:04 AM
Amazon is looking for ways to make the warehouse experience more engaging while also upping employee productivity.
Helen H. Richardson/Getty
  • Amazon is testing a pilot programme in five fulfillment centres around the US where its employees can gamify their workload.
  • A game with retro graphics works together with Amazon's facility technology to track employees' work, comparing it with other employees'.
  • Those with a high score get bragging rights and "swag bucks," which can be turned in for Amazon-branded gear and clothing.
  • The gamification could result in higher rates of productivity and make work tasks less monotonous.
  • For more stories, go Businessinsider.co.za.

Amazon is trying to make the lives of its warehouse workers a bit less rote.

It's piloting a programme in five fulfillment centres around the USwhere its employees have the option to gamify their workload.

At employee workstations, games with names such as "MissionRacer," "PicksInSpace," "Dragon Duel," and "CastleCrafter" appear on a small screen with retro-looking graphics and keep track of employees' work. The Washington Post was first to report on the existence of the programme, which an Amazon representative confirmed with Business Insider.

Progress is then compared with others', either on the individual or group level. Winners get bragging rights and "swag bucks," which employees can redeem for Amazon-branded apparel and gear.

Using the gamified program is completely optional, and while there are incentives like virtual badges, they are not directly tied to pay or advancement.

The pilot began at one warehouse in 2017 before it was expanded to five.

The gamification plays a dual role of making unskilled or monotonous labor more easily borne and providing a way for Amazon to more naturally encourage employees to be more productive. How productive Amazon's warehouses can be is something that's carefully watched by investors, customers, and everyone in between as Amazon transitions its two-day Prime shipping guarantee to one day.

Amazon warehouse workers are also already tracked for their productivity. Some employees told Business Insider earlier this year that the job is "brutal." Amazon says it's proud of its "great working conditions, wages and benefits, and career opportunities."

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