Amazon confirmed Wednesday it has begun laying off employees in its devices organization, the start of a string of job cuts that will likely affect around 10,000 workers in devices, retail and human resources.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on how many layoffs would be from its Washington state workforce.
“After a deep set of reviews, we recently decided to consolidate some teams and programs,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices and services at Amazon, wrote in the post. “One of the consequences of these decisions is that some roles will no longer be required.”
“It pains me to have to deliver this news as we know we will lose talented Amazonians from the Devices and Service org as a result,” he continued.
The devices organization includes Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, as well as Kindle, smart home products, Echo speakers, its health device Halo and its home robot Astro.
Amazon will help affected workers find new roles within the company, Limp said. For those who cannot find a new position, Amazon will offer “separation payment, transitional benefits and external job placement support.”
As of Wednesday evening, Washington’s Employment Security Department, which records job losses in the state, did not yet list any information about Amazon’s layoffs. If Amazon’s Washington workforce is significantly affected by the layoffs, the company will have to file a WARN notice with the state, indicating how many of the job cuts are happening in its Seattle headquarters, offices in Bellevue or elsewhere.
Amazon has begun filing WARN notices in other states where workers have been let go. On Tuesday, it notified California’s Employment Development Department it is eliminating 263 jobs at its Sunnyvale offices.
The job cuts affect engineers, data associates, designers, project managers and research scientists. Those layoffs are effective Jan. 17.
The number of total layoffs remains fluid and is likely to roll out team by team, rather than all at once, as each business finishes plans, Amazon confirmed Wednesday.
If it stays around 10,000 people, the job cuts would represent roughly 3% of Amazon’s corporate employees and less than 1% of its global workforce of more than 1.5 million. That total workforce is primarily composed of hourly workers.
Seattle is Amazon’s biggest campus, with 55,000 employees based in its South Lake Union headquarters. Amazon’s 18 other North American tech hubs together include roughly 65,000 employees.
Before Amazon announced job cuts to its corporate ranks, it had already been taking steps to cut costs and slim down. It froze hiring for corporate roles and ended some projects, including some robotics experiments, a virtual travel experience and a video device for kids. The company told investors in October it was “taking actions to tighten our belts.”
This month, Amazon also began quietly ending contract positions.
Kimberly Weed, who had been working as a contractor helping Amazon onboard new hires, was told last week that her contract was ending due to Amazon’s hiring freeze. Until that point, Weed had believed her contract position would result in a full-time job.
“I feel like it was a bait and switch in a sense,” Weed, 50, from Mercer Island, said.
Weed has enough savings to last her about two and a half months, and hopes she’ll be eligible for unemployment benefits, because as she sends in applications for new positions, platforms like LinkedIn tell her 700 people also just sent in their résumé.
As news of the layoffs circulated around Amazon’s workforce, employees set up a Slack channel to commiserate, offer one another tips on finding new roles and complain about the lack of transparency and communication from upper management. Some employees mentioned the ticking clock to find a new job before their visa expires.
“How can we expect to be ‘Earth’s Greatest Employer’ if literally everyone in the company is trying to figure out if they will be keeping their jobs?” read one message viewed by The Seattle Times.
Several employees in the Slack thread said Amazon is also offering buyouts to some employees who are willing to resign or retire.
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement Wednesday the decision to make job cuts came as Amazon performed its annual operating planning review process. News of that cost-cutting review sent the company’s stock back up after a weekslong slide.
“As we’ve gone through this, given the current macroeconomic environment (as well as several years of rapid hiring), some teams are making adjustments, which in some cases means certain roles are no longer necessary,” Nantel said. “We don’t take these decisions lightly, and we are working to support any employees who may be affected.”