These are unprecedented times. For individuals, young and old, for companies, large and small, day-to-day life has changed in ways we could never have expected just a short time ago. As a large company, we have committed to leveraging our scale for good, and are using our ability to innovate quickly to support communities worldwide. Amazon is providing the government with logistics support to deliver test kits to homes around the country.
From the outset of the global pandemic, nothing has been more important to us than ensuring the health and safety of our employees. We expect to invest approximately $4bn globally in Covid-related initiatives between April and June this year. This includes spending more than $800m in the first half of the year on Covid-19 safety measures. In fact, we are proud to say we have made over 150 process updates – including enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures – to keep our people safe. We have distributed personal protective gear, such as masks for our employees and implemented temperature checks across our operations worldwide.
We are redeploying team members to perform safety-related tasks and audits at all of our sites, such as “social distancing ambassadors” and team members helping with temperature checks. We have staggered shift start times and break times, spread out tables in the break rooms, and suspended exit screening to ensure ease of movement near main entrances.
We increased pay for hourly employees by £2 per hour from March until 1 June to thank our teams at the height of the crisis. Our operations teams have been on an incredible journey over the past few months, and we want to show our appreciation with a special one-time Thank You bonus. Front-line employees and partners, who were with the company throughout the month of June, will receive a bonus of £500 (£250 for part-time employees).
For our partners, such as delivery drivers and seasonal employees, who may be facing financial hardship or quarantine, we established a $25m relief fund. We are also striving every day to support our customers and communities, opening 15,000 new full- and part-time positions and driver opportunities across the UK in our fulfilment centres and logistics network. People who have joined include many whose work was impacted by Covid-19, from a sky diver, pilot and scientist, to a pub landlord, recruitment consultant and scuba diver.
We believe Amazon has a unique role to play providing a service for customers to get goods they need for their families without leaving home.
Across Europe we have committed 21 million to support those most affected by the pandemic. We are providing students with online STEM courses and supporting virtual classrooms with no-cost resources from AWS and Amazon Future Engineer. Free content is being provided to customers such as books, music and video available on Amazon devices and we are delivering three quarters of a million healthy breakfasts to families around the UK, thanks to a partnership between Magic Breakfast and Amazon.
Our leaders across Amazon are meeting every day to consider the situation and consult with medical experts to ensure the safety for our sites, employees and customers in the UK and across the world.
Creating more resilient small businesses
In recent months, the pandemic has meant small business owners, and businesses of all sizes, have been forced to rethink how they operate.
Amazon and small business support network Enterprise Nation have launched the Amazon Small Business Accelerator, a support programme for more than 200,000 small businesses across the UK to help them recover from the impact of the pandemic and lockdown.
Amazon is working with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to help businesses reopen and kick start the economy. As a partnership, Amazon and the BCC are enabling up to 1,000 businesses across the UK to tour Amazon Fulfilment Centres to see how we have implemented a range of measures to keep staff safe, while continuing to serve customers.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and by helping them we can help families, communities and the UK bounce back more quickly,” said Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon. “We have a long track record of supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, with more than half of all products sold on Amazon stores coming from our selling partners.
“Many businesses have found their way through the crisis by providing goods and services online,” Gurr said. “Now the Amazon Small Business Accelerator with Enterprise Nation will provide thousands of offline and online businesses with the tools and support they need to succeed in the digital world, to reach customers through Amazon or any other service.”
The Amazon Small Business Accelerator will help 200,000 small businesses and start-ups through online learning, and will help 1,000 businesses get online in an intensive week-long bootcamp, plus free services, credits, training and support.
Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “It is vital that
small businesses are able to develop the digital skills they need to help connect with customers online, expand their offer and drive their company’s growth.
It’s great to see Amazon and Enterprise Nation joining forces to help thousands of small businesses and start-ups take full advantage of our dynamic digital economy. I encourage any entrepreneur or small business owner looking to boost their digital presence to get involved.”
Emma Jones MBE, Head of Enterprise Nation, said: “We have worked with Amazon to support small businesses for many years, but this is our most ambitious and important programme to date. Coronavirus has presented serious challenges for startups and SMEs, and never have more businesses called out for help, particularly with getting online.
“This package of critical support will include tailored guidance for start-ups, recovery advice and then tools for growth to help businesses weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.”
Small businesses across the UK can learn more about the Amazon Small Business Accelerator and sign up to the diagnostic here: enterprisenation.com/accelerator
This article originally appeared in Business Continuity: The New Normal. Click here to see the full supplement