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Supply Chain News: Amazon Expanding use of Gamification to Drive Fulfillment Worker Productivity


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Nice Diversion with Occasional Real Benefits, or Secret Amazon Plot?

 
March 17, 2021
SCDigest Editorial Staff
     

Amazon is expanding an existing program that uses so-called "gamification" techniques to improve worker productivity at its fulfillment centers.

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Amazon hopes that good feelings from top performance on the games alone will encourage productivity in tedious work picking and packing customer orders.

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That according to a report this week on The Information web site.

The Amazon program enables FC workers to compete against other employees for digital rewards such as virtual pets

The program is called FC Games, and it includes as many as six arcade-style mini-games that can be played only by completing fulfillment center tasks.

Reports of the use of gamification by Amazon first surfaced in 2019, with news of use of electronic games on work stations to incentivize employees to improve productivity.

The Information reported this week that Amazon is now expanding the program to FCs in at least 20 states across the country. Many of the games simply present virtual representations of how fast a worker is completing a task.

For example, in one game called MissionRacer a car travels around a track based on the speed of a worker sorting products into shipping cartons.

"Employees have told us they enjoy having the option to join in these workstation games, and we're excited to be taking their feedback and expanding the program to even more buildings throughout our network," Kent Hollenbeck, an Amazon spokesperson, told The Information. "Even with this expansion, the program remains completely optional for employees; they can switch in or out of different games depending on their preference, can play anonymously, or not play at all - the choice is theirs."

The article says employees like the games because they reduce the tedium and repetition that goes with jobs in a distribution center. But some workers are concerned it's all part of a secret plot by Amazon to find new ways to monitor employees and track productivity and push workers to labor even faster.

Some employees have used their performance on FC Games to ask for more "swag bucks," a private Amazon currency that can be used to buy company merchandise such as T-shirts and water bottles.



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In peak periods, The Information says FC workers can win valuable prizes such as game consoles or Apple Watches by performing well.

Interestingly, they are not designed to motivate workers with tangible, real-world benefits. Rather, Amazon hopes that good feelings from top performance on the games alone will encourage productivity in tedious work picking and packing customer orders.

Amazon is gradually automating many FC processes, which eventually will eliminate goal the most repetitive and dangerous jobs.

However, in the interim workers are left with more limited tasks that involve less movement and more repetition with an increasing use of on metrics that gauge human work performance similar to measuring the effectiveness of a robot.


What do you think of Amazon's gamification approach to labor? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


 
 

 

 

 

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