Amazon launched a new project last week to help military spouses keep their jobs at the company when they are forced to relocate due to their partner’s military orders.
Dubbed Project Juno, the tool “uses Amazon’s internal global system for managing employee information,” the company told American Military News in its announcement. In less than five minutes, users are able to input their new home location, as well as a timeline for their move. The system immediately begins working to find the same job or a similar role near the Amazon military spouse’s new home, who would then receive an update on the transfer within two days.
Department of Defense data shows that military spouses typically move every two and half years, and as a company that employs over 45,000 military spouses, Amazon wanted to help.
Beth Conlin, Amazon senior program manager and active duty military spouse, told American Military News that she had been working on military spouse workforce development issues for five years when she came up with Project Juno. Conlin herself had to move eight times over the past 11 years as her husband is on active duty in the Army.
“I know that relocation is the number one reason that military spouses are suffering crisis levels of unemployment. When I came to Amazon, I suspected that that might be the same, and after looking at the reasons that military spouses leave Amazon, the number one reason people were leaving was due to a family move,” Conlin said. “And I said, well, that’s just silly. We can fix that.”
“I was able to create a compelling business story to show why we should be retaining these folks and how we can because we’re global,” she continued. “And Project Juno was born.”
Named after the Roman goddess of family, the project works to accommodate both domestic and international moves, although overseas transfers are also dependent on Department of Defense regulations and employment standards in the country to which the military spouse is moving.
“Military spouse unemployment has been over 25% for a decade—and it’s what in many cases drives active service members to stop serving,” Conlin said. “It’s exciting to see that Amazon both recognizes the value military spouses bring to the workforce and is committed to supporting one of the main barriers military spouses face when wanting to maintain their career.”
While Amazon’s civilian employees can also transfer to new locations, Project Juno allows military spouse transfers to be prioritized.
“[Project Juno] tells all of our internal systems and our internal team that this person needs to move. They don’t want to move, they’re not interested in moving, they need to. And so it creates a sense of urgency around the transfer process to make sure we can facilitate the career needs of military spouses when they are moving on military orders,” Conlin explained.
Conlin said the response from Amazon military spouse employees has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
“We have one military spouse who was joking that when she completed her Project Juno profile and she ticked the little box that said ‘I have orders,’ she felt like – in her words – like a team of ninjas were working behind the scenes because she completed her profile [and within days] she was contacted by a manager at her new site offering her a new job,” Conlin said. “She was like, ‘I did nothing. I checked a box and already had a new job.’”