Effectiveness of the Postal Service’s Efforts to Reduce Non-Career Employee Turnover

Objective

Our objective was to assess the Postal Service’s effectiveness in reducing non-career employee turnover and evaluate underlying reasons for non-career employee turnover.

The Postal Service hires non-career employees to supplement its regular workforce and reduce staffing costs. Non-career employees are temporary workers who do not receive the same employee benefits as career employees, are not always guaranteed a set schedule, and can work from one to seven days per week. In fiscal year (FY) 2019, the Postal Service had about 136,000 non career employees which represented about 21 percent of its 633,000 employees.

The Postal Service has four non-career employee labor designations or crafts:

■ Mail handler assistant position — unloads and moves mail in plants.

■ Postal support employee position — processes mail and sells postage at post offices.

■ City carrier assistant position — delivers mail on designated city routes.

■ Rural carrier associate position — delivers mail on rural routes.

The Postal Service establishes a non-career employee turnover goal as part of its annual National Performance Assessment (NPA). This goal is used to measure non-career employee turnover to help reduce the Postal Service’s cost of training non-career employees. In FY 2019, the goal was 34.08 percent.

We conducted site visits at 14 district offices, 12 post offices, and two processing and distribution centers (P&DC). These visits represented all seven Postal Service areas and included sites with higher and lower unemployment and non-career employee turnover rates.

Findings

Over the last four years, Postal Service Human Resources Headquarters (HR‑HQ) management took actions to reduce non-career employee turnover. Although the annual turnover decreased from 42.8 percent in FY 2016 to 38.5 percent in FY 2019, it still exceeded the NPA goal of 34.8 percent in FY 2016 and 34.08 percent in FY 2019. Also, the FY 2019 turnover rate exceeded the FYs 2017 and 2018 rates. In FY 2019, the city carrier assistant positions had the highest turnover at 45.8 percent while the postal support employee positions had the lowest turnover at 34.4 percent.

To meet the FYs 2018 and 2019 34.08 percent NPA non-career employee turnover goals, the Postal Service would have had to retain almost 3,000 more non‑career employees in FY 2018 and almost 5,900 more non‑career employees in FY 2019. We calculated this would have reduced the cost of onboarding and training by about $4.1 million in FY 2018 and about $9.6 million in FY 2019 based on management’s estimate of total onboarding and training costs.

Management estimated the Postal Service saved about $8 billion in labor cost from FYs 2016 to 2019 by employing non-career employees. However, they did not measure the cost savings associated with the NPA non-career employee turnover performance. On average in FY 2019, non-career employees who left, worked for the Postal Service for about 81 days. Measuring the potential cost savings associated with reducing non-career employee turnover would help ensure management focuses on improvement.

Also, non-career employee turnover could be improved if HR-HQ management developed a single comprehensive strategic plan for recruiting, hiring, and retaining non-career employees. HR-HQ management developed individual strategies to assist in non-career employee retention at the local level. The strategies included developing engagement training for all employees and revising onboarding training to better address the needs of new non‑career employees.

However, during our site visits, we found inconsistent application of HR‑HQ strategies. Specifically, at seven of the 14 district offices and four of the 14 facilities we visited, management said they had not received training on retaining non-career employees.

Because HR-HQ management did not develop a single comprehensive national strategic plan for recruiting, hiring, and retaining non-career employees of all four crafts, districts developed local strategies to help reduce non-career employee turnover. We found the following examples of local strategies at the 14 districts we visited to help reduce turnover.

  • At 11 district offices, management said they required managers to obtain district office approval prior to terminating non-career employees. They did this to ensure non-career employees received performance feedback and were allowed an opportunity to improve their performance before being terminated.
  • One district office created managerial policies and procedures for onboarding and training non-career employees. The managers were required to certify completion of the procedures.
  • One district office required managers to personally greet new non-career employees, take them on a tour of the facility, and introduce them to other staff when they arrived at the facility.
  • One district office provided refresher training to all non-career employees after their first 60 days on the job.

These strategies could be incorporated into a comprehensive strategic plan for all districts to follow.

We also found that HR-HQ personnel e-mailed a voluntary exit survey to non‑career employees who left the Postal Service and made summary results available to local management with access to the Postal Service’s information technology network. From FY 2016 to June 30, 2019, about 28 percent of the non-career employees responded to the exit survey. In FY 2016, the survey’s top two reasons for non-career employees leaving the Postal Service were “Lack of Schedule Flexibility” and “Physical Demands”. From FY 2017 to June 30, 2019, the top two reasons were “Lack of Schedule Flexibility” and “Didn’t Like Supervisor”.

Management at 10 of the 14 district offices we visited were aware of the voluntary non-career employee exit survey and six of the 10 district offices said they used the results to improve non-career employee turnover. However, they were not provided any guidance on how to use the data. We also found that six district offices said they performed their own exit surveys.

HR-HQ management said they monitored the reasons for non-career employees leaving the Postal Service and used the data to deploy strategies to address them. However, they had not established any nationwide processes to ensure non-career employee exit survey results were reviewed by district office personnel and appropriate corrective action plans were developed. Establishing a nationwide policy on use of this exit survey information would better enable effective and consistent actions to address non-career employee turnover.

A comprehensive national strategic plan and procedures would help ensure management consistently focuses on reducing non-career employee turnover, provides better oversight, and ensures best practices and feedback is shared.

Recommendations

We recommended HQ-HR management:

  • Measure the cost savings associated with the NPA non-career employee turnover performance.
  • Develop a comprehensive non-career employee national turnover strategic plan and procedures to provide more effective management oversight. The plan and procedures should focus on achieving measurable results to reduce non-career employee turnover at the local level by developing action plans to address exit survey results and implement district best practices nationwide.

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Why not give them some type of incentives? We cannot keep RCA’s in our office. The regulars are overburdened, working their days off, and cannot get a day off because there is no one to cover. How can paying regulars overtime on a weekly basis be cost effective? The post office isn’t what it used to be, I have never seen such an incompetent and mis managed business in my life, let alone we have had no manager since mid December, it’s a joke

How aboit not treating CCAs like dogs. Reminding them at every turn they are only ccas and they are nothing more. Working them 7 days a week sometimes for multiple weeks. Limiting their holidays forcing them to work anytime all the time. Putting their family life 2nd to postal service. That would fix the vast majority

I don’t know about CCA’s but there is always a shortage of RCA’s. It absolutely is a demanding all-consuming job. When I was hired in 1986 as an RCA, they told us, your job is to work so that the regulars can be off when they choose to be off. We knew that we would work 6 days a week every week and don’t ever ask off unless it was a dire emergency. Now it’s 7 days a week with Amazon! I think it would help if they let people know up front that this is what will be expected… Read more »

When we get new vehicles the llv should be moved to a POV route. Eliminating the need for a rca to provide a vehicle would help keep new hires

Maybe you should have a box that the temporary employees can check for the reason of leaving that says: extremely overworked, lack of days off and I am held hostage from my family.

Why not allow retirees to come back and work part time or in none career positions. You don’t have to waste money and time training. Oh, wait . This makes too much sense.

Letting the retirees work is a great idea that has been brought up before but it never seems to happen

The USPS cannot continue to be a public service if it bases all its decisions on benefiting private business, like Amazon. If they do that, you are NOT their concern, Amazon is. We cannot continue to cut costs while delivering every EVERY single day of the week. The pressure is too great. If we are a great public service, then publicly fund us. It is free for you, a resident, to receive mail. It is free. But we pay. We pay with broken backs to deliver you your Amazon prime dog food, cat litter, car parts, mattresses, etc. There is… Read more »

How about not hiring racist black supervisors that only protect their on kind. Need diversity in the post office and new management… supervisor never done a route should never supervise carriers. Or they need to run some routes before getting management job to see exactly what it is…..

I couldn’t agree more with you on this subject. We have one white token supervisor in our office. He is blamed for everything. The other supervisor came from the plant and knows nothing about the carrier craft, other that what the acting station manager tells him to do. Management can do no wrong.

why not make the employees that stand around after mail is up and the carriers are on there routes get in there vehicles and deliver packages or go sell some mail products or go home save hours only need one to answer phone

A lot of the time the turn over is caused by management. They over work non career employees. Make them cross crafts because the non carrier employees can’t do anything about it. Most of the time they are under their 90 days. Management has no checks and balances.