Amazon will soon be a launching an experiment to try out 30-hour workweeks for certain employees.
The 30-hour workweek employees in technical teams under the program will receive the same benefits as Amazon provides to workers with 40-hour workweeks, and in accordance to the reduction in work time, will also be receiving 75 percent of the salary of 40-hour workweek employees.
Currently, Amazon has part-time employees who enjoy the same benefits as the full-time employees. The difference with the experiment that Amazon is launching is that the entire technical team, including the managers, will only work for 30 hours a week, and not just certain employees in the team.
The pilot program will only be made up of about a few dozen people, with the teams to work on tech products within the company's human resources division. The employees will be working from Monday to Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the remaining time to fill the 30 hours to be assigned as flex hours.
The employees who will be participating in the program, to be hired from both outside and inside the company, will have the option to become full-time employees with 40-hour workweeks.
"We want to create a work environment that is tailored to a reduced schedule and still fosters success and career growth," Amazon stated in a posting for an informational seminar, adding that the reason behind the experiment is that the company wanted to further diversity its workforce.
Earlier in the year, Amazon released a workforce diversity report that revealed no salary gap for female employees compared with male employees. However, according to July 2015 figures, women made up only 39 percent of its workforce and only 24 percent of its managers.
According to Columbia Business School professor Rita McGrath, the experiment could further boost the workforce diversity of Amazon in terms of balancing the male-to-female ratio, especially in the management positions. With a workweek of only 30 hours, more female workers could be encouraged to try applying for a position in Amazon.
Females, especially mothers, usually have more domestic and child care responsibilities compared with males. Shorter workhours could allow Amazon to tap into talent that previously was not given a chance to flourish in the corporate setting due to the incompatibility of a 40-hour workweek with the demands of household responsibilities.
"That's really what Amazon is doing - they're going cruising for talent among women with children," Forbes contributor Tim Worstall wrote, adding that the company has started looking for talent to a demographic that other employers have not been friendly to by not offering child care-friendly workhours.
In addition to reaching out to a previously untapped talent pool, Amazon could also be trying out 30-hour workweeks in response to the growing role of technology and automation in business. With automation lowering the overall demand for labor, a 30-hour workweek could more evenly distribute the work needed to be accomplished among employees, and could also push forward more innovations by employees.