Amazon Expands Plan to Gamify Warehouse Work

May the odds be ever in your favor

Amazon center
Men work at a distribution station in the 855,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island.
AFP via Getty Images

In the last decade or so, the concept of gamification has grown in popularity and has cropped up in some unexpected places. Want to make your website or app more engaging? Make it more like a game, the thinking goes. That same philosophy has led to some employers introducing elements of gamification into the workplace — though that hasn’t always gone as planned.

In 2019, The Washington Post reported that Amazon had introduced elements of gamification into some of its warehouses. The program, which was optional for workers, was described as “Tetris, but with real boxes.” Two years later, it looks as though Amazon has decided to expand this program to more warehouses across the country.

A new article at Engadget cites a report from The Information stating that Amazon will be introducing a series of games to its workers at warehouses in 20 states. According to the article, workers at a station used for picking and stowing will have the option to choose from one of six games; playing the games lets the workers accumulate a digital currency.

Amazon will not be using these games to measure productivity, based on the report. One issue raised by this news is whether or not gamification can lead workers to do their jobs at an unsafe speed, thus risking injury. It wouldn’t be the first time Amazon has been criticized for putting workers in harm’s way, unfortunately.

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