Background

The U.S. 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 full employee benefits and privileges. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, the Postal Service employed an average of about 130,000 non-career employees.

The Postal Service has four crafts that constitute the non-career employee portfolio: (1) the mail handler assistant position that unloads and moves mail in plants, (2) the postal support employee position that processes mail and sells postage at post offices, (3) the city carrier assistant (CCA) position that delivers mail on designated city routes and (4) rural carrier associate position that delivers mail on designated rural routes.

In October 2014, the Postal Service created a CCA recruitment and retention strategy to provide field Human Resources staff, managers, and supervisors with resources and strategies for the recruitment and retention of CCAs.

In FY 2015, the Postal Service formed a joint Human Resources and operations team to evaluate turnover. Subsequently, the Postal Service created initiatives for FY 2016 to reduce turnover and improve training.

In FY 2015, non-career employee turnover cost the Postal Service about $95.1 million to hire and onboard replacements.

Our objective in this project was to assess non-career employee turnover and identify opportunities to optimize non-career staffing. Because the Postal Service needs a flexible workforce and is facing a tightening labor market, we may conduct further work on the strategic use of this key resource in the future.

What the OIG Found

Opportunities exist to reduce non-career employee turnover by addressing factors such as scheduling flexibility, physical demands of the job, and supervisory relationships that contributed to non-career employee turnover.

In FY 2016, the combined annual turnover rate for all four non-career crafts was 42.7 percent (monthly average of 3.6 percent), which did not meet the National Performance Assessment goal of 34.8 percent annually (2.9 percent per month). Leveraging best practices in establishing and implementing mentoring and training activities for all crafts could help reduce these high turnover rates.

Lastly, unit managers did not always review workhour reports and submit non-career separation forms timely. Consequently, 1,223 of 2,208 (55.4 percent) non-career separation forms were submitted from 1 to 38 days after employees separated and not the day of separation as required.

These conditions occurred because the Postal Service does not have a recruitment and retention strategy to help reduce attrition rates to sustainable levels and ensure all non-career crafts are appropriately mentored and trained. In addition, they did not ensure that areas and districts implemented mentoring and training activities outlined in the CCA strategic plan. Lastly, unit managers were not required to evaluate workhour reports to identify and timely remove separated employees.

If the turnover rate goal had been met, the Postal Service hiring and onboarding costs for FY 2016 would have been reduced by over $23 million. Furthermore, as the Postal Service converts many non-career employees to career employees, investments in mentoring and training would better prepare the employees for both current and future roles. Lastly, when a district or site reaches its maximum complement and does not remove separated employees from payroll, the system does not update to reflect a vacancy and replacements cannot be hired.

The Postal Service took corrective action by implementing a field onboarding program nationwide beginning October 1, 2016. This program will include pre-hire communication, employee orientation, on-the-job training for all crafts, and updated rural and city carrier academies. Therefore, we are not making any recommendations regarding training.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management establish a comprehensive non-career employee strategic plan for all crafts that addresses contributing factors identified by Postal Service data and an oversight process to ensure areas and districts implement retention activities. We also recommended management institute formal requirements for unit managers to evaluate workhour reports to identify and timely remove separated employees.

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Comments (16)

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  • anon

    The City Carrier Assistant Craft is one of the most physically demanding and complex of the four non-carrier crafts for the United States Postal Service. The CCA craft has the highest turnover rate since its inception. The CCA craft was a response to staffing needs and keeping overtime rates at a minimum. CCA’s are voluntarily and involuntarily resigning from the posting due to low wages, burnout, no union protections, job security and flexibility in scheduling and work life balance and distance. After the final processing CCA’s are required to attend a one-week orientation/ training, that includes two eight-hour days of instruction, defensive driving, shadow day, and drivers training. A CCA must past drivers training and shadow day before admittance into the CCA Academy and OJI at assigned duty station. I completed CCA orientation/ training, CCA Academy and OJI training and carried mail. CCA Academy is a good idea, you are trained on casing mail, leaving and returning to station procedures, carrying mail using the LLV, park and loop, mounted, CBU’ boxes, and how to use the satchel. In my opinion, it does not really prepare CCA’s for the real-world experience when the carrier is alone doing the job. Some stations do not have a certified OJI instructor. Most Postmasters will send a CCA to another station for training at a minimum of 3 days or 5 days. However, the OJI trainer has a route to finish and most supervisors want to be completed their route and train. I had the experience of being with a Certified and non-certified OJI trainer. The PM was constantly calling. I ended up splitting the route. The problem carriers may get afraid when carrying mail alone. There is so much information given in the CCA Academy and OJI training in a very short amount of time. Carriers should get at least 20 hours of training on the LLV or the Promaster vehicle. The job takes 4 to 6 months to learn the craft. Some postmasters expect CCA’s to have the job down in 30 days or get upset when then send them out on the route with a 2-3-hour swing and it takes 8 hours. CCA’s are expected to carry mail. In most offices CCA’s do not case the mail to learn the route. Some regulars or advanced CCA do not organize the mail efficiently in the orange bin. Some regulars short cut or break the rules. The problem post masters expect CCA’s to hit the ground running after the academy and OJI training. Trays of DPS, SPS, coverage and parcels can be overwhelming when carrying for the first time alone. The problem some CCA travel to different counties and they do not know the areas. The Auxiliary report may only give the parking points only but not the streets. In conclusion, the post office is losing money on the CCA craft, postmasters need to focus on retention. Some offices will not give CCA’s work while other offices and districts will give full routes. Post masters expect CCA’s to efficient within 30 days when the learning curve can take 90 days to 6 months. Supervisors need training. CCA should be converted to PTF so they can get the proper salary, benefits and schedule. The Union in my opinion is a waste of time. They do not protect the CCA while in the 90-probation period. Post masters should not fire a CCA for any reason accept for cause. However, the EEO is an option. The post office should implement hiring employees within 50 miles from their home. If the USPS wants to keep quality workers it must address the needs of its workers and practices.

    Jul 22, 2017
  • anon

    I just lost my job as a teacher and applied for a few jobs at the post office. I admit I did it without really reading what a non career position is. I took the 473 test today and received an 85%. I was very excited until I read the positions more closely. The pay is less than $20 an hour which I did see before I took the test, and I thought you still received health benefits with non career positions (it looks like you could only get them after a year?). From reading reviews online it seems like it takes years to even move up the ladder. Doesn't the union do anything about this with setting a limit on the time you stay in a non career position? I mean what is it to them to actually move you up the career ladder when nearly every position listed as a vacancy is a non career position? I always thought working for the post office would be a good, stable job, but I'm now realizing that you guy get treated worse than teachers.

    Jul 17, 2017
  • anon

    I have been hired as a CCA but have not yet started and I doubt I will make it a week into my actual "non-career" as a letter carrier because... 1) The job announcement did not list the hours I would be working. As a matter of fact, no one has yet told me the hours/shifts that are available. I have, however, been informed that I will be notified if I'm to report to work the day before and that this will go on for as long as it takes to make regular (perhaps 1-2 years). This is unacceptable. I am looking for a schedule that is presented more than one day in advance and encompasses more than just the following day as I feel that would be respectful of an employee's time & need to get other things done besides work. If you only need people to be "on call" then please do include that in the job announcements. 1a) In an email from HR I was offered the position but specifically told "NOT" to quit my job (yet). Then the orientation was scheduled and I was told to report on a specific day (not too far in advance). Did we talk about start dates? No, we did not. Again, disrespectful of an employee. Anyone worth their salt, who is already employed, will want to give their current employer 2 weeks' notice. 2) I was hired by someone in HR and have not met my soon-to-be supervisor. This is a recipe for disaster. If we don't mesh well I am out the door - life is too short to work for someone who doesn't respect you or is a bully or just doesn't like your face. Interviews work both ways and both the supervisor and the employee should meet face-to-face prior to day 1 at work! 3) The post office seems to forget that THEY are also on probation with ME. Yes, I will attend your training but if the things that matter to ME don't happen (hours, supervisor) then too bad for you, I'm gone. Don't you wish you had found that out before you invested all that time & money in me? I'm getting paid no matter what... 4) Corporate culture comes from the top down. Changes need to be made from the PMG right down to the local supervisors. Unless and until the USPS wakes up and smells the increasing costs of training and retention they're going to have difficulty attracting and retaining talent. Finding people who have clean driving records, who can pass a drug test and a background check is expensive, somewhat difficult and time-and-resource consuming.

    Jun 21, 2017
  • anon

    I WAS noncareer employee with the Postal Service. But the sacrifices that I made to drive 60 miles (one way) to go to work, without being compensated for was pathetic. So basically I drove 120 miles, round trip, per day, 6 days a week and worked 2 different offices as a PMR. Yet, I did this for 3 years. Absolutely nothing from the Postal Service. When I tried to go to a permanent position, it was a slap and a laugh, saying I'm not good enough. If you want to keep the turn over low for non-career employees, then retain them and move them over to permanent positions when there are openings. Then you will keep good employees, and keep the customer service the best ever.

    Jun 19, 2017
  • anon

    Work-life balance should be a major concern for the OIG. Lack of interest in postal work in a tightening labor market could lead to system failure. The job offer (all day every day) will not even be considered by future workers.

    Jun 13, 2017
  • anon

    The CCA training is laughable and in our case was delivered by a lovely but incompetent lady who chattered about herself in the main. The one thing she kept repeating over and over was 'now don't quit.' Seems like the postal service is desperate and expects people NOT to have life. When asked whether working overtime and working on Saturdays and Sundays could be refused, the answer was that it was expected. Hmmm. The USPS is above labor law??? Very interesting. That is a strategy doomed to fail as is all the talk about how the postal service seeks to be profitable - and therefore seems to be willing to let their (non-career) employees work all the slack for burned out folks, in the process burning out their new employees. The word 'employee' is a bit of a misnomer; it's a bit more like indentured service. A turnover rate of over 42% suggests mismanagement, micro-management, and NO vision. What profits the post office makes are likely greatly diminished by this fatal approach.

    May 16, 2017
  • anon

    The USPS business model for non-career employees should be reviewed. The Postal Service is not getting a return on its investment. Some Districts are better than others. The Office of the Postal Service Inspector General should investigate and address the issues being presented. From my perspective, non-career employees and supervisors should have continuous training. CCA's and RCA’s should have the following: Uniform allowances prior to completion of probation, Consistent work schedules, shorter hours, two days off, benefits, conversion after 90-day probation period and realistic work expectations. More promotions to middle management based, on education, and job performance. Retention is a problem. Non-Career employees should not be threatened with termination or abused that is not a good business practice. The non-career employees program is not working and it is costing the USPS. Maybe the non-career employees should revert to PTF. If workers are not happy then business will suffer.

    May 02, 2017
  • anon

    I am not a postal worker but I know for a fact that management problems are HUGE in this area! I am trying to figure out how to get to the union. Working long hours with no end in sight and getting fussed at when you are so tired you cant even think straight. It is normal to work mon-sun with NO time off for weeks. This is torture. There is a lot of favoritism in this area. ESPECIALLY this post office. If you are friends or any relation to the post master....jobs aren't posted, they are handed out to family. Help isn't given. They don't care about their employees general health. Inspections need to be done ASAP on the post master. I've heard so many horror stories from regular and non regular carriers who are with WR and have left. Management needs a good spring cleaning. The union is oblivious to this. But what happens when multiple complaints start being filed? I can guarantee people will start getting fired. I don't know how they sleep at night doing the under handed things they do in this office.

    Mar 21, 2017
  • anon

    There is no way that a normal human being would put themselves through this torment for the amount you are offering them. In the Washington DC metro are you can not afford to have an apartment on that pay. Let's say you hire at a younger age group it will be a toss up, some of them live at home and money isn't the problem. The physical nature of the job and the verbal abuse by management and supervisors will break them down. They will up and leave with nowhere to go because they can. Now hire a slightly older age group and you get people who have responsibilities and what you offer is just not cutting it. Unpredictable schedules mixed with low pay is never going to be good for anyone. On top of that a toxic work environment filled with verbal abuse and threats doesn't help either. Wheaton post office Silver Spring, Md

    Jan 05, 2017
  • anon

    Is it fraud when a non postal employee contractor wears a postal uniform?

    Jan 03, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for letting us give our input. If you want to keep good employees make them career. A PTF is part time career and has a sense of belonging. If a non career employee works the day before and the day after a holiday give them holiday pay or at least a green card the day after to be paid fairly. Recognize good employees. Reward good employees. 95 million was spent on turnover in 2015, I wonder how much it would have cost to keep good workers? And how much would have been saved to do so. Have panels of non career crafts give input for retention issues and solutions. I would especially like to see non career employees who have many years invested be part of those panels. There are non career employees with over 10 years and that doesn't seem temporary to me. Show them that the Postal Service cares by giving them some sort of benefits. Thank you.

    Dec 30, 2016
  • anon

    As a recently converted CCA I'm still amazed at how either daft or dumb upper mgmt is at the PO. It's comical the way you're treated as a CCA. Now that I'm a regular, everyday I try and cost the PO more than I make. I call in sick 2 times a month. I usually go over an hour everyday so I'm getting OT on every paycheck. I refuse to participate in customer connect in anyway. Actually it's completely opposite and I will encourage customers on my route to not ship with USPS. I'm still hanging around because like I said mgmt is either daft or dumb. Mgmt has no ability to fire a terrible carrier. Honestly there is nothing mgmt can do if you don't wanna work hard so in that way the PO is alright if you're just gaming the system. I can easily do that for another year or two.

    Dec 29, 2016
  • anon

    Hired 10/2015- terminated 5/2016----- Wake Forest NC, Hired as a rural courier sub, Brought to a location and introduced to two supervisors, that did not give me an equal opportunity, trained under a long term employee that didn't allow me to be hands on because he does his preparation a certain way, within the 90 day probation, I was called out to standard mail, twice. The first was when I had no idea of what to do, not trained, than to help an employee because they fell behind. I extended my hand to help many, than was told that I was told by two supervisors that I was not cut out to be a rural courier, trying to force me to sign a paper. I denied and wouldn't sign paper, asked to have meeting with the acting postmaster, that would not meet with me, told at the time that I was not fired, but I needed to find a new location, I didn't know what to do, asked other locations that asked where did I come from, than held without assignment and pay for 5 months, than sent a termination paper with codes that I didn't understand. I felt cheated out of a career goal, that I bust my butt to get. They left me homeless because of they way they handled it, I was unable to get unemployment because it showed I was still employed. This ordeal set me so far back that I had to move back home with my parents, and I am 46yrs of age. I just want to find out who do I right to, and what can I do. I am qualified to be a postal employee, I can't help that I love helping people and I am courteous to all, my supervisors were threatened, after the Postmaster said in their face, that I was going to be their best rural courier.

    Dec 28, 2016
  • anon

    I am an instructor at the Pittsburgh District Office and the biggest problem we see is failure by the AO' s to properly structure the new hires OJI. The onboarding program is good but only provides fifty percent of.the required training and these associate offices need to be held accountable for the rest of the training or retention rates will still faulter. We have been trying to communicate this with them however ,some offices don't even know about the new program which I find disturbing . More required communication about the program and its implementation is needed!

    Dec 22, 2016
  • anon

    Oh let's see.....Crazy schedules and nasty bosses.......Gee...It sounds to me like a management problem....Management is NOT..get live bodies...don't train them, plug them in to fill holes...And when they don't perform like a veteran, just abuse the heck out of them...What a winning combination. Perhaps you should do an "Undercover Boss". Sending one of your people would accomplish 2 things. 1... See the problem 1st hand. 2...Would put your people in the actual shoes of those who actually handle the mail...It would be an eye opener for your folks..Nah...that would happen.....You'd have to get your hands dirty and LISTEN to the real people who make USPS the most trusted governmental agency in polls year after year.

    Dec 21, 2016
  • anon

    CCAS are treated horribly. I actually love the job but hate not ever seeing my family. I love people and can even deal with some of the hateful supervisors. It is not fair we are required to work every weekend both days and not ever knowing when your day off will be, until the night before you are off. We are told to take lunch, but it being before my 90 day probationary period I am afraid to because I won't have enough time to finish my route. I am halfway through and eery day I consider quitting at least once during the day. I am a fighter and want to see it through. Our shop srewards cannot do much because it isn't past our 90 days. A supervisor was real ugly to me one day for no reason and I didn't say anything but a regular employee did without my knowledge and the shop steward did handle the supervisor. I work in ws NC-WINSTON-SALEM and something should be done about the treatment of CCAS. Yes I understand paying our dues, but those before us didn't have to work every Sunday like we do.

    Apr 18, 2017