SEATTLE — On Monday, Amazon announced the launch of WorkingWell, a new comprehensive program providing employees with physical and mental activities, wellness exercises, and healthy eating support that are scientifically proven to help them recharge and reenergize, and ultimately reduce the risk of injury. The program is part of the company’s investment of more than $300 million into safety projects in 2021, and its mission to be Earth’s Safest Place to Work. There are a number of components of WorkingWell, each of which was developed in collaboration with employees from within Amazon operations. Aspects of WorkingWell piloted in the U.S. in 2019, and the program has since expanded to 859,000 employees at 350 sites in North America and Europe. By the end of 2021, WorkingWell will expand further to cover all of Amazon’s operations network in the U.S. with the aim of cutting recordable incident rates by 50 percent by 2025.
The health and safety of employees is Amazon’s number one priority and has been since day one. The company works closely with health and safety experts and scientists, conducts thousands of safety inspections each day in its buildings, and has made hundreds of changes based on employee feedback to improve their well-being at work, including development of the WorkingWell program.
“Amazon takes our safety very seriously, and my managers have made it clear to me it’s more important than anything, even productivity and quality,” said Jeffrey Ku, operations employee at an Amazon fulfillment center in Aurora, CO. “WorkingWell is an extension of that—it makes sure we’re taking care of our minds and bodies. It encourages us to make positive changes to how we work, and since I started watching the program’s health and safety videos, I’ve incorporated a stretching routine into my day.”
Similar to other jobs of this kind, about 40 percent of work-related injuries at Amazon are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) which include sprains or strains caused by repetitive motions, and they’re more likely to occur among newer employees, many of whom might be working in a physical role for the first time. Pilots of the WorkingWell program have reduced these injuries, and have had a positive impact on regular day-to-day activities for employees outside of work. In fact, this program—along with other company initiatives focused on early MSD prevention—helped decrease MSD-related injuries by 32 percent from 2019 to 2020.
“Amazon has identified some innovative technologies and approaches to address employee well-being and the implementation of training and wellness programs in their facilities,” says Jennifer McNelly, American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) CEO. “The occupational safety and health community thrives on sharing innovations, best practices and lessons learned. We look forward to Amazon continuing to share ideas and information about these new methods and approaches to improve workplace safety in the United States and globally.”
WorkingWell is a comprehensive program with a number of components covering training and conditioning, wellness services, and technology, including the following:
Scientifically proven health and safety education and exercises
Health & Safety Huddles: Daily opportunities to engage employees on strong body mechanics, wellness topics, and ongoing safety education. Operations leaders and small groups of socially distanced employees gather near work stations and watch short interactive videos on rotating topics created by health and safety professionals and injury prevention specialists. Topics rotate on a monthly basis and range from gripping and handling, pushing and pulling, nutrition, and more. In the last year during its pilot phase, Health & Safety Huddles contributed to reducing MSD-related injuries and received nearly 90 percent positive feedback from surveyed employees.
Wellness Zones: Provides employees with voluntary stretching and muscle recovery via easily accessible, dedicated spaces within Amazon’s operations buildings. These areas incorporate interactive videos and written information to help employees proactively improve their health and wellness in areas like body mechanics, wellness topics like best practices in stretching, ongoing safety education, and more.
AmaZen: Guides employees through mindfulness practices in individual interactive kiosks at buildings. During shifts employees can visit AmaZen stations and watch short videos featuring easy-to-follow wellbeing activities, including guided meditations, positive affirmations, calming scenes with sounds, and more. Employees like Katie Miller from an Amazon fulfillment center in Etna, OH, say the pilot program has been helpful. She shared, “Self-care is important, and AmaZen gives me an opportunity to take time for myself to just pause and regroup which helps me be better at work. When I take that time, I come back to work more focused, and it has a lasting effect on the rest of my day.”
Comprehensive and critical health and wellness services
Wellness Centers: Amazon-staffed spaces dedicated to preventing injuries and illness through preventative self-care, health and safety education, as well as first-aid treatment in case of injury. First aid trained onsite medical representatives and certified athletic trainers called Injury Prevention Specialists bring diverse backgrounds to these Centers to deliver quality onsite safety and wellness care to operations employees.
EatWell: Developed to support the overall nutritional health and wellbeing of employees by promoting healthy eating and increasing the availability of healthier options. In onsite breakrooms, signage is displayed to highlight healthy choices such as fruit, granola bars, and vegetable snack packs. Through this program, the company has also increased the selection of healthier options available to employees in site breakrooms. In its initial pilot, EatWell has increased awareness of healthy eating by 60 percent and has helped over 50 percent of surveyed employees make healthier choices.
Neighborhood Health Centers: Offers Amazon employees and their families quality, convenient, and affordable healthcare within 10 miles of where they work and live. In partnership with Crossover Health, these Centers provide access to comprehensive primary care services to help members be well and stay well. With a focus on acute, chronic, and preventive primary care health needs, a wide range of services are offered at these Centers. Examples include prescription medication services, vaccinations, mental health, physical therapy, health coaching for conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and care navigation to specialty referral services, as well as same-day pediatric services. Since the initial rollout of 17 sites across five cities in the U.S., patients have reported over 90 percent satisfaction, and over 85 percent of Amazon employees consider Neighborhood Health Centers their single place for healthcare.
Using technology to connect with employees in buildings, and at home
Mind & Body Moments: Hourly prompts employees receive at their workstations guiding them through a series of scientifically proven physical and mental activities to help recharge and reenergize, and ultimately reduce the risk of injury. These activities, designed to reduce muscle and mental fatigue, range from various stretching recommendations, breathing exercises, and mental reflections. Since piloting this program in select sites, employees have shared that these moments have improved their physical and mental wellbeing while at work. By the end of the year, Mind & Body Moments will evolve to more personalized prompts.
Connect & Comment Kiosks: Gathers employee feedback to help drive improvements to current WorkingWell components and ideate on future offerings. These kiosks also give employees an onsite location to access wellness services and content, connecting them with hundreds of pieces of content including health and safety training, wellness tips, information on Wellness Centers, and Mind & Body Moments.
WorkingWell Mobile App: Will soon provide at-home access to all of the onsite safety, health and wellness offerings in Amazon buildings including AmaZen, EatWell, Mind & Body Moments. The Working Well Mobile App offers employees a digital library to help facilitate proactive wellness behaviors like stretching and muscle recovery, mindfulness exercises, and body mechanics coaching.
WorkingWell was developed by employees who care deeply about their co-workers and are dedicated to promoting workplace health and safety. The WorkingWell team will continue to elicit feedback and ideas from employees, and use the science of safety to solve problems and establish new industry best practices in its relentless pursuit to support employees and keep them healthy and safe every day.
To learn more from the employees who helped develop WorkingWell and its components, visit: https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/workplace/meet-employees-behind-amazons-new-health-and-wellness-program.