High Amazon Hiring Bonuses Rile Existing Workers Who Received Coupons

amazon worker in warehouse
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It’s holiday hiring time at Amazon and some new recruits are collecting signing bonuses as high as $3,000, while established employees are getting not much more than a pile of coal, and it’s making for some awkward conversations. 

Bloomberg reported that social media chat rooms where Amazon workers connect are ablaze with talk of employees who have received $10 coupons or vouchers for turkeys from their managers, while the tech titan courts new hires with big bonuses.

“I was going to put it in the bank because it looked like a check, but it was a grocery voucher you couldn’t redeem for cash,” an Amazon warehouse worker in California told Bloomberg. “They usually give us a few pieces of turkey and an extra 15 minutes for lunch break, but they can’t this year because of social distancing.

Fred Whittlesey, a compensation expert and former Amazon employee, told Bloomberg that these discrepancies in bonuses are “the ultimate insult in compensation,” adding, “People constantly compare. It doesn’t matter if it’s money, a turkey or a share of stock. If someone got something I didn’t get, it immediately creates resentment.”

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Amazon had its best holiday season ever last year and is poised to beat it as the pandemic forces shoppers to do much of their gift shopping online. To keep up with surging demand during COVID-19, the company has been hiring at various times since the pandemic struck. In mid-March, Amazon set out to hire an additional 100,000 employees. In September, Amazon again sought to bring on 100,000 new workers. In a rocky economy with a 6.9% national unemployment rate, most folks are just grateful to have a job — but to know that someone in the exact same role as you is getting $3,000 simply to onboard, while you’re getting a $10 coupon — if anything at all — is deeply discouraging. 

If you’re looking for a job where you can be happy, see which companies have the happiest employees.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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