Saturday, April 30, 2016

Survey Says: The USPS Is a Terrible Place to Work

An organizational tumor that has festered within the U.S. Postal Service for years burst into public view this week at exactly the wrong time.

Part of report obtained by InsideSources
An employee survey that postal officials tried to keep under wraps proves what countless postal workers have been saying for years: The USPS is generally a horrible, dysfunctional place to work.

What makes the Postal Pulse survey results so meaningful is that the Gallup Organization compared the USPS data to those of other client organizations.

InsideSources, which obtained the survey results through a Freedom of Information Act request, estimates the comparison involved a pool of 400 companies. Even for those of us who’ve heard horror stories from hundreds of postal employees, the USPS’s numbers were stunningly awful.

How low can you go?
On nine of the 13 questions – from how supportive immediate supervisors are, to development opportunities, to fellow workers’ commitment to quality – the USPS scored in the bottom 1 percentile. In other words, for each of those nine questions, about 396 companies scored better than the USPS and only three, at most, scored the same or worse.

On job satisfaction, postal workers were in the 2nd percentile, while on “I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right” the USPS was in the 3rd percentile. By far, the Postal Service’s best question, in just the 16th percentile, was “I know what is expected of me at work.”

Having a toxic workplace wasn’t so bad for the USPS a few years ago when retention and recruiting weren’t issues. With shrinking mail volumes and virtually no ability to implement layoffs, the agency rarely hired new workers and encouraged long-timers to retire.

Hiring boom
But a shift to using more non-career employees has been a major USPS cost-saving tactic the past few years. That, coupled with stabilizing mail volumes and high turnover among the non-career workers, has caused the USPS’s hiring needs to explode – to the tune of 117,000 new employees last year and a projection for 125,000 newbies this year. (See Postal Service Revs Up Its Hiring.)

And with other big employers like Walmart and McDonald’s recently boosting their minimum pay, the Postal Service faces stiffer competition for new employees willing to work for relatively low pay and limited benefits. It can’t afford to have a bad reputation, backed up by data, for being a lousy employer.

A USPS spokesperson told InsideSources that the agency has “assembled a dedicated, high-performing Employee Engagement team of employees who have begun the process of training all our postal leaders (tens of thousands) to translate” the survey’s results “into a Daily Mission. We will hold postal leaders accountable for actively identifying and correcting their work environment issues in order to achieve a more satisfied and productive workforce, ultimately resulting in more satisfied customers.”

The USPS didn’t become such a toxic workplace solely because supervisors don’t know how to lead, so training alone won’t fix what ails it. A mess this big requires massive culture change, which usually means a thorough overhaul of how an organization hires, promotes, evaluates employees, and communicates with them, among other things.

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35 comments:

Glenn said...

Congress and PMG are the antagonists in this regard but Unions collude to the customers expense. Tort of Malfeasance.

Anonymous said...

I don't think management is going to spend any time or money trying to "correct" the situation, either..........

Randy Jepsen said...

You also have to take into account that some employees always mark those surveys showing the worst.

John Wesley Linton said...

This is why I have always said it is important to fill out these surveys...the USPS may not do anything with them, but at least your voice is heard! The APWU has its reasons for telling the membership to not fill them out, but I do not agree with their reasons. As a local President, I always tell my coworkers that the USPS will do what they are going to do, but you as an individual have the right to speak up...in fact, I believe the National APWU should be speaking up more on this issue and maybe even doing their own survey amongst the membership to determine our future and longevity...that brings about a more clarion message when sitting at the table. Trying to organize other businesses and truck drivers as in the Bill Burrus's regime and chasing Staple's signs like windmills during our current leadership only magnify the problem that we are indeed out of touch in our approach and systematically flawed...it shouldn't take years for grievances to be solved and the local manager should be held accountable for their actions the same way that an employee should...cronyism needs to be STOPPED!

Anonymous said...

The union comment is bogus. You have an agency that moves problem supervisors around from station to station because they are unqualified for the job. You have new employees brought on with minimal training told to go out and delivery 10 hours of mail in 8 hours or they will be terminated. They are delivering in areas they are not familiar with. They are sent out the door on a route they have never seen with 60 packages that they have no clue what parts of the route they are to be delivered on because the carrier putting the mail together for them is ordered to not to mark the parcels with a number that corresponds to the swing it's delivered on. Management is making carriers with less than a few months on the job bosses because nobody in their right mind would take the job and ask carriers to do what they know can't be done. Carriers routes are adjusted to an 8 hour day with the combination of prep time and delivery time generally 1 hour inside and 7 delivering which includes loading and unloading time plus travel to and from the route, 2 10 minute breaks and bathroom stops which depending on the location of the route could eat uop as much as 45 a day depending on the location to the nearest public bathroom and where on your route you decide to go. A good starte would be of the 7 hours of delivery time you could actually have 6 hours and 10 minutes or so. The bosses are giving the time away on these routes for 4:30 or 5 hours in most cases eliminating what they call not needed time loading the bag. They only count the actual act of delivering the mail

Anonymous said...

I totally and 100 per agree with the article

Anonymous said...

This September I will have 40 years as a Mail handler. When I first started in the Service, the management was fair, but sort of ridged. Now what we now is a complete breakdown. If you do not want to work it is ok, if you work that is ok also. You have employees with no supervision whatsoever. The Plant Manager does not have a clue. No company, no matter how large can overcome bad management. No one is accountable. I will be retiring in a couple of months. As far as working for the Postal Service, it has been a blessing. I was able to raise my children, buy a house, take really nice vacations, and have a decent standard of living. Pretty good life for a person with 12th grade education. Management or lack of competent management is the problem in the Postal Service.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, management doesn't count all the mail, they guess and put that in the computer so the next thing you hear is "what took you so long." I had time taken off a inspection because I had 6 parcels that I needed a hand truck for and God forbid I didn't leave them in the lobby for the 80 year old in a wheel chair to have to fight to get it upstairs.

Anonymous said...

I have 30 years as of July. I've never seen things so bad. We have a post master that threatens people on the work room floor. We have floor supervisors that can't keep their zippers up. But God forbid I need to use a hand truck to deliver a parcel because it's too big or heavy. The last time my scanner broke down on the road I got in trouble because I had to wait an hour and 15 minutes for management to come out with one that worked and as far as they were concerned that took to long.

John Fromme said...

Explain - exactly- how the Unions collude to the customers expense" and how that fits into this articles topics.

I'll be waiting.

mailman dad said...

In my office 5 years ago, 99% would have said s fantastic place to work with very high regards for out postmaster. Today I don't think you would fine more than 2 out of about 100 craft employees!!

Anonymous said...

Its always been that way, at least in my 32 years of service. Whats different is the survey results became public knowledge. The USPS would never allow this to surface.

Anonymous said...

I will have 30 years in next week. For about 20 years it was a great place to work. For the next 5 it was ok, but noticeably going downhill. Since our plant closed and our new postmaster was put in place it has become nearly unbearable. The postmaster has no idea what the contract says and retaliates if you question her or, God forbid, file a grievance. Her supervisors also don't have the guts to stand up to her or honestly report her tactics for fear of the same retaliation. She has been reported to the OIG and the NLRB, but so far all we have gotten is lip service from both. This postmaster has been bounced around and sent to sensitivity training multiple times. From what I can tell, she has been taught to make her supervisors do the dirty work. Signing their names to letters of warning and other discipline, even though they admit she is pulling all of the strings. She is the most unreasonable person I have ever met and is apparently miserable and wants everyone else to be as well. She is the worst manager I have ever seen anywhere, and is a better manager than she is person.

Anonymous said...

I have worked for USPS since 1993. When I was hired you had to have scored a 90 plus on the exam. That is not the case anymore. The USPS has dumbed-down its work force and when you do this, you get employees who are unable to maintain a standard that the USPS desperately needs in order to have near zero mistakes, excellent customer service, and a pool of qualified personnel to advance into managerial positions. Now they move up anyone who finally makes regular and no longer wants to deliver mail. Another issue is supervisors, that were carriers in the same office, have a definite conflict of interest in doing their jobs in the same office as when they were carriers. Another issue is that supervisors don't supervise, they sit at their computers and provide data and answers to underlings who do nothing but reports. This "army" of report people adds no value to the USPS in doing the job of delivering the mail. Top management needs to streamline just what reports it really needs and allow supervisors to supervise.

Anonymous said...

Things have gotten so bad that two stations in our area have had to reach out to the Congress person representing our area to have mediation for the hostile work environment that has been brought on by this incompetent group running the show here. Many of the supervisors in the stations were former craft employees that were either on the verge of being fired, or were so horrible at their job they needed to move on before they got fired. Now these folks are supervising the same people who saw first hand what a horrible employee they were. We have clock rings being altered. EEO's galore, multiple violence in the workplace issues and grievances galore with payments over the last few years over 300K and yet none of these supervisors are removed. We have GPS following are every move, and these lazy supers are calling people asking them where they are. The tactics are getting more desperate because their positions are the next ones to be eliminated. A station that I started at has lost nearly 26 carrier positions in the last over two decades due to automation and unfair time adjustments. The fact of the matter was that when there was down time on your route and your buddy was having a tough day you would go over and help him finish. Now with the routes being squeezed to the point that you don't have time to engage the customer, and with your whereabouts tracked that discretionary effort has disappeared. Not to mentioned due to the size of all routes and forced overtime the injuries are piling up. It's nothing to have a 30 route station with half it's routes uncovered due to injuries and vacations. Now when the sick calls come in it's worse. We had carriers working 6 days a week 10 hours a day for nearly 3 years. During that time management jacked up route adjustments so bad and we were ordered not to change what they had done. Routes that were 8 hours were now taking 11 hours or more. During the 2 weeks we were ordered to not make any adjustments we were on the clock from 7:30am til 11:45pm..returning to the station to go out and help another letter carrier start the two hours overtime assigned him at 10:pm. Back in the day we used to get hauled in the office for V time which is double time. Now you get assigned V time, no overtime people get assigned V time while yes overtime people sit at home and get paid for not working because the contract states that overtime people must be maximized before no people are forced..and management refuses to follow this even thought they have lost the grievances and been made to pay and those grievances have escalated pay in them and they still continue to ignore the settlement.

Anonymous said...

I was able to retire in 2014 at age 60. 27 1/2 years in as a letter carrier and the last 7-8 years had become a nightmare. I was a good carrier and pretty much could make the times, but I got injured falling on ice in 2008 and after that everything went downhill for me. It was right at a time apparently supervisors are told to MAKE people be productive. Our supervisor was screaming in peoples faces and when you would tell the Postmaster, he would just claim he didn't see it or hear it, so he couldn't do anything about it. Then they started hiring CCA's and they are not given enough training to really know what they are doing and expected to make insane times. I think all employees need to be productive and for a disciplined work environment, but it needs to be REAL. We are all human and everyone works better if a NICE, work environment is initiated. i have NEVER had to bear such hostility that should be illegal in any other place in my life. I even at one point told the Postmaster that I don't come to work to be abused. Oh, I have many stories and perhaps someday, I will write a book! I am one of the fortunate ones that was able to complete my career and get out early. I really feel for the new hires. And, it appears nobody lasts very long. It is a stressful job!! If I had known what the PO would turn out to be... I would have changed professions... or at least gotten out before I had too many years in to make it hard to make that change. This observation does NOT surprise me and it is about time it comes out in the open.

Anonymous said...

of course its a terrible place to work, and i am in management. Upper management is only concerned with eliminating jobs/positions and "catching carriers" doing something. We have teleconferences all day where District geniuses are telling us how do catch someone or eliminate somebody's job or pivot. But, when someone retires from the District they are replaced even before they are retired, and they never pivot their responsibilities. So of course it creates a terrible place to work. We also reward no one, for college degrees and especially a Masters Degree, its actually frowned upon. I went for a job one time and was told the District Manager would prefer someone who does not possess a college degree since he doesn't have one??? I can't wait to retire in 5 years.

Anonymous said...

As a retired US Postal Service employee, you have to see it too believe it. What you have is in general a group of employees that could care less about how they appear to the public while delivering mail. Unlike FedEx and UPS employees that have a strict dress code that they adhere to, the USPS has the same thing. However if you ever look at your carriers, there are never two that look identical. At times you want to ask them if they even give a damn as to what their appearance does for the organization.

As for work ethic, it is a contest to see who can do the least amount of work and make the most money. Unions protect these people, and with the inability of the organization, USPS, to fire workers that least amount of work and most money are two goals that are reached way too often. Anyone that attempts to bring the bar up for these individuals is met with Union Stewards that are paid to save the poor performing employees jobs. Of course the Union Stewards are also attempting to get as much Union time as possible, away from what they are supposed to be doing, working. As far as I am concerned the Postal Service has way too many whiney babies that have finally brought the Postal Service to the brink of extinction. Now we all are seeing if the fact that they have no skin in the game, at least that's what they believe, will allow it to topple over the edge.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous..this speaks to the horrible quality of management. You must belong to that group. If those carriers were not dressed correctly they could be sent home. There are guidelines in the ELM sand other manuals that lay out what is acceptable. There are reviews that should be done in the unit about work performance yearly and those deficiencies are supposed to be done by the management in that unit. In my area unfortunately many of these managers only assumed it meany with the operation and not the employees. If this behavior is not corrected or pointed out then it is assumed to be proper procedure. If that is allowed to continue then it becomes standard operating procedure. The problem most management has getting their heads around is that the increase in parcels takes time. The addition of time to the routes over the last decade has taken a toll on the carrier force when combined with leaving routes uncovered resulting in overtime. When i started we were casing mail for 3 and a half hours and in the street for 4 and a half. Now it's inside 1 delivering 7 and we did not have the overtime like before. The management wants to say with less mail you should get done faster but they can never let me know how many deliveries I am going to miss. In the manuals we are told to have mail box ready prior to delivery. By having mail box ready it does not matter on a walking route if it's one piece or 10, and furthermore, the lack of mail in the bag has been replaced by parcels which often make the bag more awkward and sometimes heavier than the mail it has replaced.

Anonymous said...

As an employee in the "plant" side of the house, I see the main problem being supervisors and managers don't do things or make decisions as if it (USPS) were their company. That is, how would you do things if you owned the company and you had to pay all the bills? Our company bleeds money and we operate as if we have money to burn.
Also, the managers and supervisors are clueless about PRODUCTION Management. Oh sure, you may have an individual that MIGHT have a degree in BUSINESS Management. But Business Management and PRODUCTION Management are two different animals. And the bosses and senior bosses are clueless of that concept.

Coley said...

I just retired in October.The problem is nationwide,thus it must originate at USPS HQ.Only an outside agency/person with true authority can solve this mess.I worked as a carrier for thirty five years,a good job and I feel I gave the company and customers a good days effort,but the phony metrics and robot spying chased me out the door.

Anonymous said...

I started carrying mail in 1987. I was proud to wear the USPS uniform, now I am ashamed to wear it. My postal family has now become dysfunctional. My retirement papers have been submitted.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those "dreaded new hires" in the past year. But I see the problem in more areas than just management. You have regular carriers who go out of their way to argue with the Post Master about EVERYTHING. Then they go out and do 4 hours of work but get paid for 8, then dump the rest on a CCA who has already carried a full route (and laugh about it). Is that how all you long time employees build a team? Then you have union stewards who call in new carriers and tell them that the post master is a "liar". Instead of saying they disagree, they are just a bleeping liar. Is that the representation we should really expect from our union? The problem is that it is an Us vs. Them environment, because that is how career employees and management choose to make it. You want to keep employees, don't display the poor work ethic and constant confrontational attitude and new employees will have a better learning environment to grow from. Too often I hear long time carriers complain when a change comes down and you hear the old "well that isn't how we have always done it". In the military I heard Soldiers say that all the time, the problem is when it is accepted as an excuse. As leaders, and professionals, we have to accept change and make things better. Not argue and use any lame excuse you can come up with because it hasn't been that way in the past. Management is going to do the things they have to do on the "bottom line" side of things, and career carriers should be doing what they have to on the production side. And everyone needs to train and demonstrate the proper professional attributes you want from the CCA's. Instead of career carriers complaining CCA's are not trained, and then go in the corner and whisper about them. Try stepping up and showing them what they are doing wrong, or what they could do better. Lead by example, it works.

Anonymous said...

Everything a carrier does has a time attached to it, casing letters, casing flats, pull down time, loading time, they even count your steps during an inspection. Also during an inspection every letter is counted, some by the carrier, some by machines; likewise with the flats. Everything is recorded on a form during inspection. I'm being facetious here, but I'm surprised they don't have a line item and time attached when a carrier passes gas, but you get my point. So what's the problem? Parcels! In their computers, there is no time given to deliver them; zero, zip, nada. What company, when they're assessing the employees workload for the day, doesn't count one of it's biggest time consuming factors? Oh, they can put any number of parcels they like into their DOIS program (which they do), but without a delivery time associated with them, 10, 20, 30 parcels = 0 parcels. Even a time of 2 minutes per parcel (which I think is a fair estimate), will eat up any under time a supervisor claims a carrier has. But without an associated delivery time for these parcels, management can claim erroneously what the carriers work hours should be for that day, thus sending the carrier into over time or causing him to skip his lunch and breaks least he be fired. I can't believe the National has dropped the ball on the rank and file on this issue. I guarantee if Rolando fought for a time associated for each parcel delivered to be entered into DOIS, it would give a clearer picture of a carrier's actual work day and would cause management to back off of their claims of route's under time or unapproved over time.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time that there was a survey by an outside source. Yes I agree with someone who said that you have to keep in mind that there are many people who give the most negative answers they can just to ruffle feathers. However the bigger problem is that out of those 16 questions most of them didn't even apply to the work environment in which we work. We are not like an office where people are inside all day we each have individual jobs and help each other on the basis of being told who to help and how. We do not have lunch time together etc... So how can you say just how good or bad we are with a survey that doesn't apply. That's like trying to fit that square peg in a round hole.
The internal surveys that they used to give us at least were more appropriate to our immediate job. I even saw changes in my office based on what those surveys brought to light. There is no possible way to fix our problems using this most recent survey.

targetguy777 said...

I worked there for 27 years and filed a eeo at the end and I agree it is a toxic place to work. I went through intercom abuse as well as co workers ganging up on myself only to see many relatives being hired but many on the waiting list. As soon as there is any type of workplace injury this is when the trouble starts. I am glad I have retired and don't have to look back.

Jackie said...

I left USPS as a CCA carrier last May, knowing full well I would have promoted to regular carrier with my own route before fall. My USPS exit Q&A mimic the results of this article. The nasty environment is due to both management and union....and I am not a union advocate---or usps mgmt advocate. The very deeply rooted issues stem simply from the love of money.

Russ said...

I think the survey results and most of the comments after are spot on. I was a carrier for 31 years. During my career I had a few managers that understood the human element and knew the best employee was a happy employee. The first 20 years were filled with employees that took pride in their work and gave service to the public. The last 11 years were just managers trying to squeeze more water out of the turnip. Craft employees gave more and more and managers just did more and more reports and stopped managing. From my vantage point the lower level managers don't have a clue how to run anything. They just do what is told even though it doesn't make business sense at all. The micro managing and how they treat people is terrible. It was a terrible place to work the last couple of years. Threats, intimidation, everyday pressure from your supervisor that your stealing time because their computer print out says so. So glad that I don't have to work in that environment anymore.
Notice how the public perseve the PO of today as compared to 20 years ago. Sure misdeliveries were made before and there were complaints, but now on a daily basis there are so many complaints of missing mail and parcels not getting delivered to correct addresses. All because of managers pressuring craft for more with less time. Hostile managers are the norm now.

Anonymous said...

I am not postal worker. However I have 30 years dealing with postal workers. Some are great and others not so much. We have had clerks that were nickel and diming us to death. Proved that the clerk was cheating. What happen to said clerk... early retirement full benefits. They couldn't fire him. I know of a postal worker who used to beat his machine up so he could have longer breaks. Took them a long time to get rid of him. Another clerk who dealt with customers and the money. Couldn't count worth a darn. The supervisor couldn't get rid of him not even to transfer him. Why you ask... Due to a Union. Postal works have not customer relations skills. Their objective is to disqualify your mail. Rules are set up from headquarters that don't make sense to even the clerks let alone the customer. 30 years ago there was not barcoding and so many different full page forms. There was one 1/2 page for first class and one for bulk mail and one for periodicals. There was no barcoding. Guess what I have stats that show the mail does not move any faster or better than it did 30 years ago. There are too many chiefs and no one understand customer service.

Charlene Watkins said...

Does anyone have information on being charged with workers comp fraud that was being maliciously created by the USPS special agent PM and SUP.?I have 34.8 years with the Po and have been charged with 6 felonies ,I had an attorney that ripped me off and now have to appear in court to defend myself,even with mounds of medical evidence .They are saying I misrepresented my work restrictions because I exercised after work per doctors advice instead of working full time and they lied about the amount of time I exercised. It is a big mess and now I have a new injury with my back because of being pushed back to full time.I am now considered disabled through SSA,I need an attorney that will take on my case Pro Bono,I do not qualify for a Pub Defender,pleas feel free to call me at 5304590921.I worked for the PO as a carrier and clerk when we had massive mail volume (1973) Gee I wonder why the injuries in such an unergonomic place!!

Anonymous said...

Here is another problem, the USPS spent millions on this survey and now it has blown up in their face. I filled out my survey with the lowest answers, why? Because the questions were stupid. My favorite, Do you have a best friend at work? First off, what if you work in an office where there are 3-5 employees and you are 25 and everyone else is 50+, or perhaps you are the supervisor and no other management in your office should you have a subordinate as a best friend couldn't that be considered partial to that employee.
Then HQ extends the cutoff date for the surveys giving employees an extra two weeks to turn it in. My manager had us to give the employees a mock survey and see what the problems were before the actual survey was given so that we could contain some damage or fix some problems before they failed us. I am betting there won't be a survey for the next quarter.

William Perkins said...

Work is fine, the problem is reverse discrimination. It seems that as a white guy I have to accept K KK as part of my logon, and to complain they try to issue discipline.

Anonymous said...

As a NALC Peresident, I can acurrately back this statement. The good and qualified supervisors are overlooked for unqualified Ones based on who they know in upper management. They are not given the tools that they need to get their Workloads done. Also, pay is the same no matter where you work, so if you are at a big office managing 50 routes in your section, you get paid the same as someone who manages 2. The pay scale should reflect the work done, which would entice better-performing managers to take the jobs in the bigger units. Instead we have people that are Begged by postmasters or the district managers to become 204bs or supervisors, and have no qualifications, experience or people skills. While I butt heads with management on several issues from time to time, addressing these would help create a trickle-down effect of a little more tolerable workplace.

Anonymous said...

I do not know how long you have worked for the PO but this problem has been going on since the 70's .Management is only about the next step up and the big retirement package and salary they get and they do not care who lives they may try to ruin on the way up.

Anonymous said...

that is happening in too many offices and shit rolls downhill