Ep 11 – Amazon Uses Robots to Fire Non-Productive Employees

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Ep 11 – Amazon Uses Robots to Fire Non-Productive Employees

The robots are coming and companies like Amazon are using robots to monitor employee productivity making terminations a simple productivity numbers game. I recently read a story in Business Insider on how Amazon is using robots to monitor warehouse employees productivity. If employees don’t meet a performance level, their employment is terminated.

In a world where I believe the key to our business is more humanity, I believe this is wrong. It also leaves me with a whole lot of questions about how they notify their employees in terms of setting expectations and the termination itself.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Combs, a candidate who created a robot to apply for thousands of jobs. He talks about how he used the robot.

I put together something that I very loosely call a robot but it’s really just a glorified spreadsheet with arms and it crawls the Internet for jobs that have no relevant keywords and titles and companies that I’m interested in it brings them in to the sort of makeshift database and it processes the data in a way that allows me to write customized and personalized cover letters emails to hiring managers and pairing it with a specific resumé that’s tailored to that job.

So I did some maybe testing and eventually came to realize that it really didn’t matter what I was doing with the subject line or the cover letter how I was pairing it with the resume a number of these things seemed to have a significant impact on the responses that I was getting. And so I took it a step further and I said you know rather than having a subtle difference between version and version B I’m going to have a drastic difference. I just want to see if anyone’s even reading these things. So version A of my last cover letter was just the normal cover letter it’s something that I hope someone would read and say this sounds like an interesting candidate and version B beginning in the second sentence admitted that it was being sent by a robot. The idea here is that either someone should be very excited by that kind of creativity and a disruptive approach to applying to jobs or they should be very very turned off.”

Robert’s approach didn’t result in any job offers or even interviews. He did, however, generate great conversation on automation and robots and how they can improve processes, but that doesn’t stop the fact that Robert’s robot just like Amazon’s takes the human out of one of the most personal workplace interactions which is employee terminations and coaching conversations.

I’ve included a link to Robert’s interview as well as our featured story on Amazon. Do you see a future where robots are taking over a manager’s job of terminating employees? We already have so much violence in our workplaces and stress. I can’t imagine being on the receiving end of an involuntary termination which happened via email or text message from a robot who fired me.

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Featured Story

Worker Tracking System can Automatically pick People to Fire without a Human Supervisor’s Involvement

More Great Resource

Robert’s Interview: Ep 111 – Candidate Creates Robot to Apply to Thousands of Jobs

How to Gracefully Fire & Terminate an Employee

Amazon Warehouse Workers are getting Fired by Robots

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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