A business is only as good as its employees, which is why more and more organizations are offering flexible workforce policies to attract and retain the best workers. Among other things, flexible workforce policies help employees adjust their work schedules to the needs and circumstances of their personal lives, so they can have a healthier work-life balance. The idea is that happier employees are more committed and productive employees, and that leads to better customer service.

We endorse the win-win idea behind workforce flexibility in our new white paper, Flexibility at Work: Human Resource Strategies to Help the Postal Service. We believe the U.S. Postal Service could do better at recruiting and retaining high-quality employees if it started offering flexible workforce policies. As it is, there’s relatively little flexibility in postal work schedules, making it very hard to accommodate an emergency or even a pressing situation facing a worker – for instance, kids that need to be picked up at a certain time every day or elderly parents that need to be driven to a regular medical appointment each week.

Properly implemented policies offering things like job-sharing, compressed work weeks, shift-trades, and self-scheduling are proving effective in other industries, as numerous businesses are finding they have a stronger labor force as a result of the flexibility. We don’t say which specific policies the Postal Service should implement. Rather, we present four high-level principles to consider when developing flexible workforce policies: create a partnership for flexibility between labor and management; evaluate a portfolio of initiatives; develop more detailed information on the expected or anticipated daily workload; and seek continuous feedback from employees.

What do you think? Are flexible workforce policies a good thing for any business? Are the suggested flexibilities realistic in a service-based business like the Postal Service? What flexibility policies would you like to see in your workplace? 

Comments (9)

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  • anon

    I have been a former employee of the USPS. I have a family member that works in the Frankfort, KY post office as a carrier and is a veteran employee. I think I can tell you why there is problems with budget. It doesn't take a genius to figure out if a person has 8 hours of work and is given over-time, between 1-2 hours per day and you have a CCA that makes 2 times less than a veteran employee and they let the veteran employee carry that time, you have just made a budget mistake. Why would they think that this is saving money? Poor management.

    Oct 28, 2015
  • anon

    My name is DL Crawford. I have done repeated business with your organization through multiple packages that I have either received or have had shipped to various locations. I have had repeated issues with packages arriving arriving at the wrong destination, or with them not arriving on time. Now I have spoken to customer service about this on a couple separate occasions. One of which they did come through for me. But, the most recent one I regret to inform you that wasn't the case. My shipment was scheduled to arrive today and still says on the website that it will be here today but seeing as how it is now after 5pm est I know that isn't the case. I am very disappointed in your organization and need to know what can be done to correct this in the future. Otherwise I will discontinue doing business with your organization and take my business elsewhere.

    Jan 22, 2015
  • anon

    Hello DL Crawford, Thank you for taking the time to contact our offices. The USPS Office of Inspector General investigates waste, theft, fraud and abuse within the Postal Service (USPS). However, we have forwarded your claim to the Postal Service Customer Service Office in an effort to assist you. Also, please file a complaint online at www.uspsoig.gov/form/new-complaint-form. By completing this form it will provide our offices with the critical information needed to look further into this matter. Thank you. U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General

    Jan 27, 2015
  • anon

    You cited examples of flexibility in European countries.....Bid difference between them and USA....They have nationalized healthcare...Part-time employees have healthcare....Our do not or are paying through the nose....let's compare apples to apples. How much would usps be saving if there was a national healthcare plan????

    Jan 14, 2015
  • anon

    The postal service has an incestuous policy when it comes to hiring and promoting employee. It is generally who you know. Not what you know. While flexible schedules is helpful. Performance and capabilities need to be the basis for hiring and promotion. Right now in the Portland OR District, there is an attrition rate of 40% for CCAs, PSEs and MHA. Primarily, while a few are leaving because they do not like the work, the majority are leaving because of the way they are treated and worked. Until, the culture changes, USPS is going to have problems holding the new recruits. Further, the morale of the old timers continues to get worse.

    Jan 14, 2015
  • anon

    I agree with James. The morale of the PO is not at all what it was 20 years ago. Nobody cares about the employee. All they care about is the numbers and the good ole boy system. If you mess up you get promoted. If you get injured or have an accident they try their hardest to fire you. Where does it end. Management plays a big role on boosting the morale, making sure things are being ran the way things should but for most its not like that in the Western area. Many employees fear to speak up because they are afraid of the consequences if they do. This is why the USPS can't keep new employees. The see how the old timers are treated and they see these employees suffer, so why should they stay. The new generation doesn't want to work in that environment. Also they don't give these people they need to perform everyday duties. 2-3 days training and then they are on their own. Delivering mail is a very big responsibility. It's all based on proper training and how the new employees are treated.

    Jun 14, 2016
  • anon

    This is plain common sense.

    Feb 10, 2015
  • anon

    We have flexibility policies in the federal agency I work for, but I don't use them myself. I find that I'm more productive in the office and I enjoy the office atmosphere in doing my work. I did read your white paper on this topic and I do suspect that the USPS could benefit from such policies in attracting and retaining staff at all levels of the organization. As an employer competing for employees on the open market, you are right in saying that you would be at a competitive disadvantage if you didn't offer flexible work options. Is the quit rate for non-career employees really 29%?? I read in your paper that these folks are paid at a lower rate and have fewer benefits (I think you say that they have the minimum benefits as allowed by law). I'm unsure that any flexibility policies will really address that kind of a gap. Annualizing my hours may be meaningless if I don't have health insurance for me or my child, for example. There's a balance and without knowing more, I wonder if the flexible work practices will have much impact on these employees.

    Jan 13, 2015
  • anon

    Rather than leaving the flexibility policies to be found by employees, how about service talks?

    Jan 13, 2015

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