Erika’s first few shifts at Amazon Prime Now warehouse had their challenges. The pace was hectic, she was negotiating a scanning system, and she was navigating a dizzying assortment of quadrants and aisle numbers. Several times, Northwest Center job coaches found her wandering an aisle, saying she was lost.
But if you asked Erika how the shift went, she was all smiles. “It was a good day today,” she would say. “I learned a lot!”
That unwavering optimism gave Northwest Center and Prime Now management confidence that Erika would get the hang of things. And it didn’t take long for their faith to be rewarded.
Erika worked with her job coaches on understanding the floorplan and learning her new role. While other employees “pick” (fulfilling customer orders), Erika “stows.” She walks the aisles with a shopping cart full of products, finds free space inside the stuffed bins and shelves to return them to the right place, and uses her scanner to make sure that the virtual inventory on the computer matches the physical inventory she is storing.
And suddenly, “I started going fast,” she says, smiling. “I started timing myself to get the orders finished faster.” She can put away over 160 products an hour, or more than two and a half items per minute. One weekend, she stowed 172 items per hour—nearly 60 times faster than the average stow speed of 100 items per hour.
These days, stow isn’t all she can do—just ask her coworkers. “She picks faster than I do,” bragged a peer. Erika recently had her best pick rate ever, finishing above the warehouse average. Management has started training her in new roles due to her mastery of the other functions; she’s the first Northwest Center associate at the Prime Now warehouse to be given increased responsibilities.
About the only thing about Erika that’s remained the same since she began? Her constant smile.
“I love this job,” she says, smiling broadly. “I like how I get to put items away. I love the environment. I just love it here. I try to go fast and be a good worker. I’m so glad I work here.”
For Erika’s managers and coworkers, the feeling is mutual.
Northwest Center is passionate about equal rights, anti-ableism, and full inclusion for people with disabilities. Thank you for reading.