The U.S. Postal Service, like many other companies, has a seasonal uptick in business. During peak season, which runs from the beginning of November to the beginning of January, the Postal Service handles increased volumes across different categories and requires hiring of non-career employees to help. The seasonal hires assist in every part of USPS, from processing to transportation to delivery. Over the past three peak seasons, the Postal Service hired anywhere between 26,000 and 49,000 employees each season.
When the Postal Service takes too long to fill open peak season positions, the resulting staff shortages can negatively affect a lot of things, including service performance, employee availability, overtime, and other USPS employees. In 2019, the Postal Service incorporated a fast-track hiring process. How is it going? A recent audit report from the OIG examined whether the Postal Service effectively hired employees for the past three peak season periods.
We found that while USPS met last year’s peak season hiring goals, it did not always fill peak season positions quickly. We sampled 203 positions from the last 3 peak seasons and found that 195 of them (96 percent) were open longer than guidance allowed. Why did this happen? The Postal Service didn’t monitor hiring activities to make sure that they were completed promptly and did not have a formal, standardized process in place to address recruiting challenges associated with peak season hiring. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic changed how many seasonal employees were needed, differing from Postal Service predictions. As a result, even though the Postal Service hired the number of employees it expected it needed for peak, it still did not have enough employees to handle the increase in parcels last holiday season.
In its response to the report, the Postal Service noted that it has a plan in place for this year’s peak season and that a recent restructure should provide clearer lines of authority and accountability for hiring.