Amazon displays employees' thefts on TV screens

Amazon displays employees' thefts on TV screens

Amazon has begun to broadcast video clips in its warehouses showing employees being fired for theft, Bloomberg has reported.

According to the news agency, Amazon in the US has put up flatscreen TVs that display examples of “alleged on-the-job-theft”, in an effort to discourage employees from stealing.

Bloomberg interviewed 11 of the company’s current and former warehouse workers and 'anti-theft' staff who say that the videos show alleged offenders, who are not identified by name, with each represented by a black silhouette with the words "terminated" or "arrested" superimposed. The videos are accompanied by details including when the employee stole, what they stole, how much it was worth and how they got caught - some tried changing an outbound package's address or hiding merchandise in their socks.

The flatscreen TVs also sometimes display information about firings related to workplace violence, alongside “cheerier” announcements such as updates on incentive bonuses or messages about Black History Month.

In warehouses without TVs, workers say information about firings is posted on sheets of paper pinned to bulletin boards or taped to the wall.

Security expert, Pat Murphy, the president of LPT Security Consulting, said: “There are people who will never steal. There’s a certain percentage of people that will always steal. You’re always trying to influence that middle group by reminding them there is a high probability they will get caught, and if I get caught, these are the consequences.” Murphy, who spent two decades in retail security after leaving the Dallas police force, says that while the psychology of Amazon’s flatscreen messages is familiar, he was surprised by the severity of the measure.

One ex-employee called the practice “offensive”, while another security expert told the BBC that the practice was "profoundly emotionally unintelligent".

Matthew Gwyther, editor of Management Today, said: "What sort of an organisation has got to the point that it thinks this is a satisfactory or commendable way to be behaving? It reminds me of Ben Hur with them standing over the rowers with a whip. I find it extraordinary that its relationships with its workforce have reached such a low point that it would do something like that."

Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

The report referred to Amazon’s warehouses based in the US. The BBC understands that the tactic has not been deployed in the UK.

Amazon recently announced it is to create 1,500 new permanent jobs in Manchester and Leicestershire.