Amazon told laid-off employees from the division that works on the Alexa virtual assistant to collect their belongings, pack up laptops and prototypes issued by the company, and download Amazon’s email and messaging service to their personal devices by 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to an email. Seen by The Seattle Times.
Amazon began notifying employees that they lost their jobs last Tuesday, the first round in a series of layoffs that Amazon expects will continue through 2023 and affect about 10,000 jobs. That number is fluid, as team leaders continue to make decisions, CEO Andy Jassy told employees last week.
It’s still not clear how Amazon’s job cuts will affect the Puget Sound headquarters, but the losses are part of a wave of layoffs sweeping the tech industry and the country. A report from the Department of Employment Security said that Washington’s information sector lost 5,900 jobs in October. With the latest layoffs, as many as 18,000 technical or technology-related jobs are set to be lost in just two months.
Amazon is making cuts across many departments, including hardware, books, human resources, and stores. The range of devices includes Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, its Halo health device and home robot Astro, as well as its Kindle, smart home products and Echo speaker. Stores cover most of Amazon’s consumer business, including online and physical stores, and the marketplace for third-party sellers and Prime.
Relaxed employees can still use personal devices to access company email, the Amazon Chime communications platform, and the AtoZ app, which offers resources about pay, benefits, and internal job openings. This is important for laid-off workers because Amazon has given them 60 days to look for new jobs within the company. Laid-off workers will lose access to Slack, an instant messaging system.
“As you know, over the next few months, we are focused on supporting you in your efforts to find your next role, either internally at Amazon or externally,” the email read. “Since you will not be expected to work during this time period, we will be making some changes to your company’s reach.”
In response to questions about the closure announcement, Amazon said Monday it is working to support those affected and help them find new roles, including by ensuring they have access to resources related to internal job searches. Amazon said the timeline for access changes varies.
The company confirmed the layoffs last Wednesday, the day after the cuts began. Jassy told employees Thursday that the cuts will kick in in 2023 — leaving some Amazon employees to wait until next year to see if their jobs are secure.
“Our annual planning process extends into the new year, which means there will be more role cuts as leaders continue to make adjustments,” Jassy wrote in a note to staff.
That news left employees scrambling to make sense of what the next few months could look like, from wondering if they can close on a new home to worrying about finding another job before their Amazon-sponsored work visa expires.
“How can we expect to be the ‘Greatest Employer on Earth’ if virtually everyone in the company is trying to figure out if they’re going to keep their jobs?” #discussion-layoffs, asked an employee on Slack’s internal channel, which The Seattle Times watched.
Some workers got a quick answer when a 15-minute meeting with their manager and a representative from HR showed up on their calendars last Tuesday. These workers were told they had 60 days to find a new job, on or off Amazon, according to interviews with former employees.
But, in November, Amazon froze hiring for corporate roles “for the next few months.”
A recently laid off employee from Amazon’s hardware organization, who asked not to be identified as she is looking for a new role, said the many internal roles she applied for had led to a dead end.
Some managers turned down her request for an informational interview because her skills did not match the role on offer. Most simply said there were too many applicants to schedule time for all of them, or cited a hiring freeze as their reason for refusing.
That employee said losing access to resources like Slack and a company laptop feels like “salt in the wound,” because it adds an extra layer of complexity to the job search.
That employee, 39, who works for Federal Way, said her team had a meeting on site in August where managers first mentioned that the group had developed “a little hypertrophy” and that Amazon would look for ways to “reduce the fat.” But leadership She did her best to reassure employees that they were trying hard to avoid layoffs.
Now, she says, it’s not clear how Amazon decided who to cut and who to keep. She said she and her co-workers were “hungry for answers”.
“We talk about being a data-driven company and it’s like, ‘Give us the details so we can see what competition we’re up against.'” [for new roles] And give us some reasons.
“I have to wonder, why me?” I continued. “Everyone says it’s not my performance, but I want someone who really had to make that decision to answer it.”
Amazon confirmed that it will help laid-off workers find new jobs. Describing steps employees should take before losing access to company devices and buildings, the company wrote to employees “Our focus is to help make these steps as seamless as possible so you can focus on your job search.”
Nearly a week since Amazon began scheduling meetings to discuss layoffs, some employees say it’s still not clear what their severance package will look like. Employees in the HR department were offered voluntary purchases.
Amazon declined to share how the job cuts will affect the workforce in Puget Sound, which has about 75,000 people across offices in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond, fulfillment centers in Kent, Sumner and DuPont, and an air hub at SeaTac.
The company has not yet provided any information to the Washington Employment Security Administration, which records job losses in the state.
If the layoffs affected 10,000 workers, Amazon would shed roughly 3% of its corporate staff and less than 1% of its global workforce of more than 1.5 million, which consists primarily of hourly workers.