Non-career employees, or temporary workers who do not receive full employee benefits and privileges, make up a significant part of the U.S. Postal Service’s workforce – about 130,000 in fiscal year (FY) 2016. The USPS uses non-career employees throughout its operations.

However, turnover is a problem with temp workers, particularly for the city carrier assistant (CCA) position that delivers mail on designated city routes. In FY 2015, the Postal Service spent about $95.1 million to hire and train new non-career employees or replace those who left, our recent audit report said.  

Turnover was higher in FY 2015 than previous years despite the USPS’ concerted efforts to address it by creating a CCA recruitment and retention strategy for field Human Resources staff, managers, and supervisors. In addition, the Postal Service created initiatives for FY 2016 to reduce turnover and improve training.

Non-career employees are vital for providing flexibility, supplementing the regular workforce, and reducing staffing costs. To that end, the Postal Service established a goal of keeping the monthly turnover rate at 2.9 percent for all non-career crafts in FY 2016. It missed that goal this past year, seeing an average monthly turnover rate of 3.6 percent. (The monthly rates of 2.9 percent and 3.6 percent equate to 34.8 percent and 42.7 percent annually.) Had it hit its goal, the Postal Service would have reduced its hiring and instructing costs for FY 2016 by more than $23 million.

Our report identified opportunities for the Postal Service to improve non-career staffing, especially in light of a tightening labor market. For example, USPS could address scheduling flexibility, the physical demands of the job, and supervisory relationships that contributed to non-career employee turnover. These were among the top reasons for leaving in a survey of non-career employees who resigned. Other reasons included low pay, few benefits, and lack of training.

What other ways could the Postal Service improve retention of non-career employees? 

Comments (35)

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  • anon

    I see that everyone's talking about RCA and CCA's but I'm a PSE and at the Gainesville location we are treated very badly. Especially the tour 1 PSE's we are always denied off days our 13's get thrown out. I had applied to be a MHA and got skipped for a Casual who got my position and was made a regular the same week. The facility wouldn't allow me to change yours. Our Union couldn't get things done for us so we speak for ourselves and are told that we are combative and might not get called back. Because we have questions. We can't understand why the Mail-Handlers keep converting employees that haven't even been in the facility for 30 days and they are now regulars. But we remain PSE waiting for possibly2 to 2.5 years before we are made regulars.

    Feb 02, 2017
  • anon

    Go back to the pay before it changed in last contract. Give benefits like city carriers get. We're training them & they're going to cca jobs because of more pay, hours & opportunity & benefits. AND some followup training a few months in to help them get the things that were just too much info in the beginning. I recently trained My sub & even tho training is better than before there are still some BIG BIG issues. Would love to tell trainers what my thoughts are on some additional concerns. It would also help if they could see something when they're riding along. I've trained 3 people who've had to take dramamine to keep from being sick when being stuck back with the packages in the back of the llv. I've looked back & they were asleep. But why not? They couldn't see what I was showing them anyway.

    Jan 30, 2017
  • anon

    How about Incremental pay raise structure based on the length of their postal employment, e.g. $0.50/hr every 90 days; as well rehires (seasonsal, or service break) to same job are paid a higher starting salary than first time new hires.

    Jan 27, 2017
  • anon

    I agree that no benefits and low wages are two of the main factors for leaving. I find another is getting days off denied even though you're casual and ask months ahead. I feel as if we're being used and not appreciated enough.

    Jan 22, 2017
  • anon

    Great question, how do we retain the non-career employees. My first suggestion is to drop the "non" in non-career and hire career employees. I was hired 32 years ago as a career Part Time Flexible (PTF) employee. We also worked 6 days a week, 10-12 hours a day. The work environment was as hostile as it is being described in the previous comments. The pay was $9 above the national minimum wage. Some of the differences: Mail volume was probably 10 times of what it is today. We cased ALL the mail, there was no DPS, however the parcel volume was not as much as it is today.. On the job training was at least 5 days, not 24 hrs. Regulars would come out and help the sub and because we were not under such scrutiny for time as we are today while out on the street, a sense of camaraderie was developed. The biggest difference in my opinion is that as a career entry level employee, I had something to buy into; my future. From the beginning I received most or all of the benefits afforded to the full time regular employee. As far as I can remember, those included life insurance, health benefits, sick and annual leave and probably participation in the TSP program. I had a lot more to lose than just an hourly wage. There was no break in service therefore I didn't feel like the contract employee that perhaps feel like today. I was hired to stay, and so if we tell the new CCA that they are the future of the post office, we need to make them feel that they really are here to stay. As an On The Job Instructor (OJI) at my station, I try to be as thorough as possible with the CCA. However I feel that my OJI certification could have been a lot more thorough. We need to be very clear on what and how to properly train the new carriers. Years of service does not equate a qualified instructor. Being a T-6 or swing person does not equate to being a qualified instructor. We need more qualified OJIs. Currently I am the only OJI in my station. It becomes very difficult to be an effective OJI when multiple CCAs come in all at once. I have recruited volunteers to become OJI, but there was never a return call from the Learning Development and Diversity manager (this happened several times and eventually the volunteer lost interest). Now that I am seeking upward movement in my career, there will be no OJI in the station. I feel that if we do not have qualified OJIs with great communication skills, we will be doing a huge dis-service to the new CCA. It is imperative that we set the new CCA up for success, not failure. Supervisor often set up the CCA for failure by overburdening the CCA with work and non realistic expectations. With proper training and giving them something to buy into for their future, perhaps the turn overs will lessen. On a different note, (and the reason I was looking at this website) how do I apply for IOG positions?

    Jan 22, 2017
  • anon

    1. Benefits would help to retain new hires. 2. If what was said at Headquarters was the same as was as in the station then it might be a little better workplace. 3. Managers that didn't think they were in the military giving orders and lying about the numbers would be a step in the right direction.

    Jan 22, 2017
  • anon

    You might retain more employees if you used flexible scheduling- for example, ask them how many days a week they want to work and honor it, as long as it is consistent. You should also at least offer an HSA. People can choose if they want to buy it and how much to put in, but not having benefits is ridiculous.

    Jan 20, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you all for your comments on non-career employees. Our auditors are reading and chronicling all comments on this topic. Please note, however, we are the Office of Inspector General , an independent agency of the Postal Service, and thus some of the issues raised are outside of our jurisdiction.

    Jan 19, 2017
  • anon

    Trying to find job postings list from USPS ? Where can I search ? (i.e. mail carrier, mail handler.)

    Jan 18, 2017
  • anon

    Try USPS.com if you want a job with the post office.

    Jan 19, 2017
  • anon

    How about giving us time to think about what we are doing on our jobs so we make less mistakes and feel better about our jobs and ourselves. Sorry, I just can't do one more thing because I am struggling to do the umpteen things you are already asking me to do well. Rather than having us handle forwards 2,3,4+ times just let us do it locally doing it right the first time. Many times they come back to my office 3 and 4 times, it gets very frustrating. My objective is to get people their mail as quickly as possible.

    Jan 18, 2017
  • anon

    i wrote a comment before without reading the previous comments. I'm sorry for my remarks. I realize that a lot of people don't respect workers. but some are lazy and don't do the right thing. When I lived in my home my mailman was a regular, and every christmas i gave him a present for which I received a thank you card. The last christmas I was there I left the card in the mailbox but I never received a card. I looked for him and the one day when I came home for work I saw a different man and I asked him about the regular man, he told me he no longer is working because he was sick. The moral to the story is some one took the card and kept it for himself. I had the man's name on it, so that's fraud.

    Jan 18, 2017
  • anon

    Maybe that's the reason we have mail and packages missing.

    Jan 18, 2017
  • anon

    Is your office really going to take these comments and make changes? I was a CCA for 2 years, and this last summer I was working 6 days a week from July 5th through November 1st. It took a toll on my body and my Doctor told me to find another line of work. Therefore I was forced to resign from the USPS. I don't understand how they can make CCA's work that many hours, the full-time employees would NEVER think of working that many hours!

    Jan 18, 2017
  • anon

    CCA at my place works 6 days a week every week. I've been a CCA for 13 months and for the first 12 I worked a average 90-105 hours every two weeks. They didn't allow us to use our annual leave time and they said time off would be mostly denied.

    Jan 23, 2017
  • anon

    Mimi I have been a Letter Carrier for over 30 years and am still walking a park and loop route at age 56. For the first twenty years as a Carrier I worked 6 days a week. 5 ten hour days and 1 eight hour day while commuting over an hour each way. So in response to your post yes regulars would and have worked that many hours for many many many more years than you

    Jan 19, 2017
  • anon

    Supervisors and station managers treat CCA's terribly. Seriously from what I see at my office there is no dignity and respect. They get pushed to be faster even when its dark out. They get sent out with so many packages they can barely see out the windows, they get sent in dangerous construction zones than get yelled at for taking to long. They are always being put down and I believe moral is at a all time low.

    Jan 17, 2017
  • anon

    Retention isn't going to change until there is accountability at the station changes. I have worked as a RCA in 2 different stations with 5 different pms and numerous supervisors. Each experience has been different; however, when working with positivity, it breeds positivity as does negativity breeding negativity. Under current mgmt staff, they have no realistic idea of our job and workload as it is now. They push and bully to the point where moral is at a severe low. While we work for less money and no benefits to speak of, the stress and negativity cause many to search for other jobs.

    Jan 17, 2017
  • anon

    I wrote you in order to change my address and you asked for my credit card number. I do not give out such sensitive data. There was other sensitive data asked for. Thus I assumed that you are a virus that had copied the USPA webpage.

    Jan 17, 2017
  • anon

    How does the USPS compare to other organizations that have a flexible workforce?

    Jan 17, 2017
  • anon

    I have a relative who worked as a sub for a rural PO. I had NO IDEA what a stressful, demanding, physical job being a carrier is!! She has too much of a work ethic to "break the rules"- so when delivering a package (for instance) she would turn off her truck, make sure it was parked correctly, take the package to the door (with the days mail), and even (gasp) ring the doorbell or knock on the door! She knew all the customers on her regular sub route, all the dogs, she even had stickers for the kids who came out to get the mail. She was invited to some events at her customer's homes. And it wasn't that she spent tons of time- she just did the job as she would like to be treated, smiled, brought the packages and such to the right place, took "some" care. But she was CONSTANTLY in trouble for being LATE- not getting the route "done in time"- which she would call and cry and tell me she just couldn't leave the truck running like other people because she would just worry that it would roll or something (I get that) - and other carriers would tease her and just tell her to do whatever it took to get the route done in time. Scan all the packages in the truck before you leave, never turn off the truck, shortcuts, shortcuts, bad for everyone! Plus NO benefits! And she was told she HAD to work 6 days in a row every month or no job- we made her quit. She was 70 years old and this supervisor would scream at her for going over time after she just was forced to work 6 days in a row and did it smiling, with happy customers AND following the rules! The USPS employees have my enduring respect.

    Jan 17, 2017
  • anon

    Some problems I have observed are as already stated in other comments, but most stem from all levels of management because of their bonus system. The original intent for CCA's was to be able to eliminate as much overtime as possible for career Letter Carriers. This would save an enormous amount of money with the lower paid work force. Instead of using them to come in and deliver parts of carrier routes to eliminate overtime they started using them to case and carry whole routes. This policy sometimes leads to extra time being used leading to friction between CCA's and local management as upper management demands answers to why the numbers are not being met. Then Amazon Sundays came along and there are not enough CCA's to cover both weekly and Sunday needs so they are being overworked. Here are my thoughts on ways to help the situation: 1. Eliminate bonuses for management, they are creating a hostile environment at all levels. 2. City carrier routes should be evaluated routes like the Rurals. This would eliminate about 80% of supervisors job duties and reduce friction and need for as many supervisors. 3. There needs to be a career workforce like the old PTF's and a non career work force for Sunday and all other Amazon deliveries. 4. Uniform purchasing cards need to be given to CCA's after 90 days so they can buy uniforms directly and not have to rely on management. 5. Better training at all levels on proper public service to our postal customers. 6. Visits by inspectors to all offices on training of proper procedures for the delivery of the mail and other issues.

    Jan 17, 2017
  • anon

    It has been my experience as a 33 year rural carrier (first 5 of which was as a sub) is that poor management, and lack of on-going training and oversight is a major problem maintaining subs. New RCAs are given minimal one on one training and just told to go out and deliver part of a route --- with no one with them to suggest better ways to set up their vehicle and to deliver. They are having to figure many things out on their own. When they make mistakes on the street there is no one to assist them with how to handle various circumstances, they are left to figure things out on their own. Mgmt (many whom have never delivered a piece of mail themselves) pressures new carriers to no end - to get out there and just get it done - causing unsafe driving practices and unnecessary stress. The atmosphere observed in the office between mgmt and the crafts is not conducive to learning and appreciating their job. Mgmt talks down to craft, pushing them constantly because it's all about the "numbers" that "district" dictates --- it's never about morale, encouraging and thanking employees for a job well done --- example this past holiday season! Local mgmt was not given the option to do what was best for their own office -- they were dictated by district to not have RCAs come in until 1:00 PM to assist and just "find the carrier on a route that they may not even know and take a few streets off the regular carrier" so they can make dispatch --requiring wasted time for the regular to find and remove the mail and parcels from the overburdened truck, spread out the parcels on the street to put them in order for the substitute who has never run the route before to follow! The absurdity of it all. This was all done rather than using the usual RCA for the routes they they knew - because according to mgmt --- "You know how to follow a map and deliver the mail." Are you kidding me? The morale is horrible - no appreciation from mgmt -- just push push push until the new subs realize -- "I'm not gonna wait ten years or more to become a regular and put up with this." I've been a local steward for 10 years and I have so many stories and opinions on how to improve mgmt/employee relations but no one is listening or seems to care... until we start from the top and go down the ladder... the "old" way of doing things from mgmt is never going to change things for the future. Please feel free to contact me.

    Jan 17, 2017
  • anon

    I think they should put 2 carriers on a city route so they aren't alone all the time. One could handle each side of the street and they could quickly move on to another area. Might make the job more enjoyable and people would stay longer.

    Jan 20, 2017
  • anon

    I have been an RCA for seven years. In that time I have seen no less 30 new hires not make it in our office of fourteen routes. Most have been asked to resign. Mostly because they just were not fast enough for managements standards. The latest sub who resigned was asked to resign by management no less than four times in her first 30 days of reporting for work. Management is certainly of a different mindset than to retain new hires. Want to entice people to stay? How about offering non career employees the opportunity to participate in TSP? Even if it is not matched by the USPS at least give them the chance to put away for retirement while they wait 10 plus years to make career. And how about offering them the same health benefits as regular employees? I mean for gods sake many of us have been doing this for years with zero benefit. Treated like dirt, bounced around from route to route and then on top of that have no vested future with the USPS to speak of. And a clear path to grieve hostile management would be a bonus. In our office it is always the carriers fault no matter what the issue. You would think that with us being the people the customers have the most interaction with and the last people to touch there mail we would get a bit more respect than we do. As well you could also use updated practices and route adjustments. What worked ten years ago is yesterdays news. Our package volume has increased significantly in the past five years. It takes so much more time to sort and deliver packages than it does mail. We are now under stricter timelines to our office work yet the load keeps growing. Routes are not being developed. We use archaic methods to sort, load and deliver. In vehicles that are not large enough anymore. And being badgered by people who sit at a desk all day and do nothing but monitor our progress and tell us when we are not meeting standards. All of this equals hostile work environment. Non career employees are for the most part fed up being treated the way they are. Getting no support, no good reports, from people who have not handled apiece of mail in twenty years or more. Management is out of touch, as is the USPS in general. UPS figured out how to deliver packages, if we want to do more we need more help, better equipment, support and benefits to keep us onboard.

    Jan 17, 2017
  • anon

    1. Actually train management in how to manage people effectively. The USPS supervisor and postal management staff is deplorable at understanding, conversing, and having meaningful dialogue with employees. 2. Expectations need to be realistic. No person can walk in off the street, sit through textbook or even minute hands on training and can be expected to hit the ground running at 100% efficiency. 3. Management must hire enough to provide adequate relief of both the regular carrier AND they part time employees. Neither wants to work 70 hours, and few can expect to survive on 20 either. So either reset their expectations or be more flexible with their required availability. 4. Management cannot sit on high and dictate without knowing how the job is done. Management should spend time on the line casing and either delivering or spending time in the vehicles observing mail delivery....Not just once a year. 5. Raise wages and benefits. Period. This crazy cut cut cut attitude has created a workforce less willing to work hard because there are too many other competitive jobs that offer more hours for nearly the same pay, often with better access to 401k and benefits. 6. Sub DAYS need to be credited towards retirement. While no on should get a year of service simply for working one day a week, 52 days is still time you put into your job and should get credit for. The omg should certainly be asking Congress to give us this dignity.

    Jan 16, 2017
  • anon

    Right now RCA's and CCA's are only garenteeted 1 day a week this lack of hours is impossible with also having to be flexible to work any day someone calls off. Thus makeing it hard to get another job. This way it only really works for people who are either retired an collecting money else where or someone who doesn't need to worry about money an has a spouse that can provide for them. One way to fix this problem is to limit the amount of regulars that take off on Saturday. This will allow for part timers to get more days a week an earn more money if you stager the days off of regulars you would need less subs an provide more hours.

    Jan 16, 2017
  • anon

    The biggest strain is a financial loss of 6+weeks without pay waiting to do another background check that I cleared 1 month ago for my last assignment. I'm hoping this will lead to a permanent position one day but don't see myself doing this much longer as my wife and child depend on me to make money. Last job as a CEP I was told they would pick 1 person out of 40 for a permanent position. Wasn't me obviously. As a solution I would recommend the additional checks be done simultaneously while an Associate works. Something comes up new, they're gone. 2nd make more positions that pay less. I'd be happy working in my hometown making $10 an hour vs me traveling 150 miles per day making $18 an hour. Honestly I can't afford to drive hardly any miles which is why I've had to sleep in my vehicle overnight on site, change clothes, eat cold canned soup, etc.... At $14 or $18 an hour I'll do it without regret but not easy when it's too cold or too hot. Hope this helps your inquiry.

    Jan 16, 2017
  • anon

    Scheduling would be a huge part especially when we have directives from the local Postmaster saying that six day work weeks are mandatory for CCA's. The makes any type of work/life balance impossible. Plus Supervisors while sympathetic to the needs of regular carriers show no such interest in the welfare on non-career employees. When I returned from a 12 hour shift I was told if I did not go back out, that he would print up my resignation papers for me to sign. What kind of message is this sending to the people who are the future of our organization?

    Jan 16, 2017
  • anon

    Benefits, being denied time off even if previously okd, you can't earn leave unless your on a hold down. Rules being changed to suit the situation, no 2 office practice the same rules. Training is a laugh. Academy is a laugh. In a previous job we got 3 wks on the job training. Postal service gives you 3 or 4 days.

    Jan 16, 2017
  • anon

    Being a non career employee( RCA/ Aux.)for 23 years....maybe offer some form retirement....benefits... show us we are appreciate.and apart of this postal team......i work 6 days a week..

    Jan 16, 2017
  • anon

    I feel ya' Kelly. Ive been on an Aux route for 16 years. Thought I was the only crazy one for sticking around this long. Glad to know there are others out there. But, it is also a shame. We now have two PTF in our office. They split 30 hours a week and are considered full time. Why are AUX carriers over looked?

    Jan 17, 2017
  • anon

    I little higher pay for CCA's would keep us going until an opening came up - sometimes we have to take another job just to keep alive - and be nice to us!! Yes

    Jan 16, 2017
  • anon

    I am into my 2nd year as a CCA in a small town. I really am not sure I could handle bigger cities. It is a TOUGH job especially with the time restrictions put on all carriers to get the mail out. But, that being said, it is a challenge that I look forward to accomplishing daily. I believe that the retention of non-career employees will depend on the station, the people in that station and the employee. We are told upon hire that it is not a full time position, hours not guaranteed etc. We are given a ride along to see if the job is something we want. The training, is sleep inducing. If you have insomnia, go to orientation and training... seriously. The actual training begins when you are on your first week of the job and never ever stops. After almost 2 years I am still learning things. The people yo work around make a big difference in retention. When there are career employees constantly belittling craft employees it makes it hard to stay. When the Post Master is too busy to deal with high school drama, it is hard to feel that your concerns will be addressed. If the employee is unable to mentally block the negative and just go about their job, the turn over will be higher. And USPS cannot improve retention when it is a mental thing that makes people leave. I would say that if you want the craft carriers to stay longer, they need to be treated with as much importance as the career carrier. Because without the craft carriers the career carriers would actually have to work harder and faster.... they wouldn't have someone to take over the end of their route so they can make 8. During the week long training, make it more hands on, have a case available with random streets and addresses so that new hires can get a feel for "being lost" in the case. A week of orientation, policies and procedures, does not teach the real job... practicing the physical elements will weed out the weak and then the truly dedicated folks... will stay. Give 2 days of orientation/policies etc. A day for LLV and then 2 full work weeks with a carrier on the route in the assigned station, someone to help, guide and direct on the proper ways to do things... that is what will help people either stay or decide it is not for them.

    Jan 16, 2017
  • anon

    Give them an incentive to stay. We are treated poorly, work hard under unrealistic circumstances a significant amount of days. I work hard and do a better job than some of the career employees we have yet they get paid twice the amount, guaranteed hours and full benefits including paid holidays. That doesn't make me want to stay. In fact it is the ONLY reason I am looking for a new job today. After 2 1/2 years of no chance I'm out.

    Jan 16, 2017

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