Technology

Amazon pauses hiring for corporate workforce

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Amazon CEO Andy Jassy speaks during the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Oct. 5, 2021.
David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amazon is pausing hiring for roles in its corporate workforce, the company announced in a memo to staff Thursday.

The company had already announced last month it would freeze hiring for corporate roles in its retail business, but the latest update affects its other businesses.

Amazon’s HR chief Beth Galetti wrote in the memo that the company moved to further restrict new hiring amid a worsening economic outlook and after it hired rapidly in recent years.

“We anticipate keeping this pause in place for the next few months, and will continue to monitor what we’re seeing in the economy and the business to adjust as we think makes sense,” Galetti said.

Amazon will backfill roles to replace employees who leave for new opportunities, and it will continue to “hire people incrementally” in some targeted places, she added.

The retail giant went on a hiring spree during the Covid-19 pandemic as it sought to keep up with a pandemic-driven surge in online shopping. Since then, it has moved to slow headcount growth as consumers have returned to physical stores, and its retail business is no longer growing at a rapid clip like it has in recent years.

CEO Andy Jassy has also aggressively curtailed expenses across the company in recent months amid fears of a recession, rising inflation and soaring interest rates. Amazon has shed warehouse space, halted some experimental projects, and shuttered its telehealth service.

In the third quarter, Amazon’s headcount grew just 5% year over year to 1.54 million employees worldwide. That’s after the company’s workforce contracted for the first time in years in the second quarter.

Amazon says it employs about 75,000 people in the Seattle area, including its corporate offices there. It also has significant corporate facilities in Virginia, Tennessee, Silicon Valley and New York.

Here’s the full memo:

With the economy in an uncertain place and in light of how many people we have hired in the last few years, Andy and S-team decided this week to pause on new incremental hires in our corporate workforce. We had already done so in a few of our businesses in recent weeks and have added our other businesses to this approach. We anticipate keeping this pause in place for the next few months, and will continue to monitor what we’re seeing in the economy and the business to adjust as we think makes sense. In general, depending on the business or area of the company, we will hire backfills to replace employees who move on to new opportunities, and there are some targeted places where we will continue to hire people incrementally.

We’re facing an unusual macro-economic environment, and want to balance our hiring and investments with being thoughtful about this economy. This is not the first time that we’ve faced uncertain and challenging economies in our past. While we have had several years where we’ve expanded our headcount broadly, there have also been several years where we’ve tightened our belt and were more streamlined in how many people we added. With fewer people to hire this moment, this should give each team an opportunity to further prioritize what matters most to customers and the business, and to be more productive.

We still intend to hire a meaningful number of people in 2023, and remain excited about our significant investments in our larger businesses, as well as newer initiatives like Prime Video, Alexa, Grocery, Kuiper, Zoox, and Healthcare.

If you have questions about how this pause on incremental hiring for the next few months impacts your team, please speak with your manager in the coming days.

Beth

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