War on WFH | Amazon warns staff their office attendance will affect promotion prospects

Amazon warns staff their office attendance will affect promotion prospects

Amazon has warned employees that their promotion prospects will be dashed if they do not start turning up to the office.

An internal memo issued by the company, seen by Business Insider, told staff that if they’re not hitting their office-time targets, and they don’t have approval from senior figures to skip office days, that their career progression will be hindered.

The company imposed an office mandate of three days per week earlier this year, prompting an angry backlash from employees, with over 30,000 signing a petition calling for it to be revoked.

At the time, a spokesperson for the business said: “There’s more energy, collaboration, and connections happening since we’ve been working together at least three days per week, and we’ve heard this from lots of employees and the businesses that surround our offices.

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“We continue to look at the best ways to bring more teams together in the same locations, and we’ll communicate directly with employees as we make decisions that affect them.”

Now, Amazon’s latest internal announcement warned Amazon staff: “Managers own the promotion process, which means it is their responsibility to support your growth through regular conversations and stretch assignments, and to complete all required inputs for a promotion.

“If your role is expected to work from the office 3+ days a week and you are not in compliance, your manager will be made aware and VP approval will be required.”

A spokesperson for Amazon said: “Promotions are one of the many ways we support employees’ growth and development. Like any company, we expect employees who are being considered for promotion to be in compliance with company guidelines and policies."

Discontent over Amazon’s office mandate rumbles on

In August, leaked emails revealed that employees were being tracked and warned about spending enough time in the office, after the company imposed a return-to-office mandate in March.

In a Q&A session held that same month, CEO Andy Jassy told staff: “It’s past the time to disagree and commit. If you can’t disagree and commit, it’s probably not going to work out for you at Amazon because we are going back to the office at least three days a week.”

Many employees had moved away from the offices they were once based in, due to the rise of remote working spurred by the pandemic. Many others were hired mid or post-pandemic, meaning they have only ever been used to a remote or hybrid work environment.

Consequently, many employees were faced the difficult task of upping sticks in order to meet their three-day office week mandate.

Encouraging employees back to the office

While the majority of employers do offer, or have had little choice but to offer, hybrid working, it is clear that many would now prefer staff to be back in their usual workplace.

Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, commented: “Encouraging employees back to the office will take a careful mix of incentives, and health and wellbeing support will be fundamental.”

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Indeed, as the research shows, many companies have already started to offer wider health and wellbeing support based at the workplace, but with hybrid working now being the norm, these benefits will have to work hard to encourage people back.

Support will need to be appropriate to the different demographics of the workforce and to employees’ differing needs. This means offering a wide range of options, covering all four pillars of health and wellbeing – physical, mental, social, and financial – to help the transition back to the workplace to be healthy, positive, and productive.

Supporting those who choose to stay home

As well as motivating employees to return to the office, health and wellbeing support will be vital for those employees who still choose to work from home.

Working from home can potentially bring with it a whole host of health and wellbeing issues. These can include musculoskeletal issues from not having a good work desk setup, to the mental pressures of isolation and lack of social contact. Employees may even be hit financially by the current high costs of heating their home while they work. So support may be as diverse as virtual physio appointments, online counselling, and financial education; and this will need to be coupled with access to face-to-face support too.

Clark concluded: “As working styles widen, employers will have to widen their health and wellbeing offering to match. This will be in terms of what they offer, and where. Information gathering will be key and varied methods of communication will be vital. Support will need to include a mix of remote and in-person, and we’re going to see an increase in the use of wellbeing platforms to make support easier to access too.”

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