Fired by a bot? | Canadian HR Reporter

Fired by a bot

I cannot imagine if the notice had been given by email or an app notification. And that, apparently, is how it’s being done for at least some employees at Amazon.

A recent article by Spencer Soper of BNN Bloomberg vividly describes the plight of delivery drivers unceremoniously let go by the retail giant through an automated device. Rated “Great” one week, they were then advised the next week that they no longer worked for the company as they failed to meet the job requirements.

“Increasingly, the company is ceding its human resources operation to machines as well, using software not only to manage workers in its warehouses but to oversee contract drivers, independent delivery companies and even the performance of its office workers. People familiar with the strategy say chief executive officer Jeff Bezos believes machines make decisions more quickly and accurately than people, reducing costs and giving Amazon a competitive advantage.”

Often, it was for reasons beyond the drivers’ control, such as locked apartment complexes not allowing deliveries or flat tires on remote roads. But the algorithm responses, from several “people” over the course of the correspondence, allowed for little insight or real dialogue.

Even Amazon managers say the largely automated system is “insufficiently attuned to the real-world challenges drivers face every day,” writes Soper. “Amazon knew delegating work to machines would lead to mistakes and damaging headlines, these former managers said, but decided it was cheaper to trust the algorithms than pay people to investigate mistaken firings so long as the drivers could be replaced easily.”

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