Background

In March 2015, February and October 2016, the U.S. Postal Service administered Postal Pulse surveys to evaluate employee engagement. These surveys replaced the Voice of the Employee survey used since 1998 and included Gallup, Inc. Employee Engagement Survey questions as well as one additional question about employee satisfaction.

The surveys’ results indicated that postal employee engagement improved slightly over the course of the three surveys administered in March 2015 and in February and October 2016. The resulting grand means were 3.16, 3.24, and 3.25 out of 5, respectively. However, the Postal Service ranked in the bottom one percent of scores for all organizations Gallup surveyed in each of the three survey administrations. Although these results are concerning, the Postal Service is taking action to address employee engagement.

In July 2015, the postmaster general emphasized employee engagement as a top priority for the Postal Service. In January 2016, management created an employee engagement team within the Human Resources function, which subsequently developed eight engagement activities: 1) continuation of the Postal Pulse survey, 2) action planning, 3) training for managers and supervisors, 4) an employee engagement website, 5) employee engagement publications, 6) promoting employee engagement via multimedia communications and outreach activities, 7) an awards program for those who contribute to an engaging workplace, and 8) employee feedback mechanisms.

On May 19, 2016, Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota requested a study to assess the morale of Postal Service employees and identify actions that could improve employee engagement and morale.

Our objective was to assess Postal Service Human Resources’ employee engagement activities to determine whether they are effective in enhancing employee engagement. We also reviewed employee comments on social media sites to gauge employee sentiments.

What the OIG Found

The engagement activities implemented in January 2016, address the three key drivers of engagement and areas of concern identified from Postal Pulse survey results. We recognize that these activities are in progress and there can be lag time for engagement activities to take effect in an organization. However, we identified opportunities to enhance the execution of three specific engagement activities: action planning, assessing employee comments on social media, and leveraging data correlation between employee engagement and business outcomes.

With regards to action planning, managers and supervisors at 81 percent (35,664 of 43,900) of business units developed and implemented action plans to address the March 2015 survey results. However, in February 2016 the percentage decreased to 50 percent (21,950 of 43,749). This decrease occurred  because the Postal Service did not require action plans and made the process voluntary.

According to Gallup, managers who develop action plans generally double the level of engagement in their employees compared to those who do not document their action plans. In addition, without action plans, the Postal Service cannot assess the progress of activities implemented to increase employee engagement timely or have a measurement of accountability for management.

The Postal Service also did not monitor or respond to comments on external employee-focused social media sites. Best practices indicated that employers should respond to comments to demonstrate that employees’ opinions matter.

The Postal Service’s Corporate Communications group oversees its social media strategy and focuses on customer comments. This group did not monitor or respond to comments on external employee-focused social media platforms. However, Corporate Communications stated they acquired social media management software in May 2017 to monitor comments on external employee-focused social media sites.

Finally, there was a relationship between employee engagement, as measured by Postal Pulse survey results, and 21 Postal Service business outcomes. For example, strong employee engagement correlates with:

  • Timeliness of delivery of standard on-time mail, indicating districts with highly engaged employees delivered standard mail on-time at a greater percentage than those districts with low engagement.
  • Low staffing ratios (number of carriers assigned per route) and unscheduled leave occurrences, indicating districts with highly engaged employees accomplished their work using fewer carriers per route and experienced less unscheduled leave.

 What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management require managers and supervisors to develop action plans and implement a process to monitor and assess their progress and expand the Postal Service’s social media strategy to include a process for monitoring and responding to comments on external employee-focused social media websites.  

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Comments (7)

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  • anon

    You don't deliver to my address. When will you engage your employees to do your basic service? You don't deliver to my address.

    Oct 16, 2017
  • anon

    You don't deliver to my address. When will you engage your employees to do your basic service? You don't deliver to my address.

    Oct 16, 2017
  • anon

    Trackability of usps packages to the kingshill post office in US Virgin Islands is not available at this moment. Why? As concerned islanders far away from the territory we too are trying to assist our communities using the USPS. We know the stress and sympathize and we are willing to uplift the territory in any way we can. Could this issue be looked into? so that going forward we can have the assurances from the US postal service that much needed items get to our beloved island families and friends in the eastern caribbean, within the delivery schedule agreed upon. We are trying to help, help us, help our fellow islanders.

    Oct 13, 2017
  • anon

    Pleasure to inform you that I have been a customer of this Post Office for over 20+ years, very satisfied with service with only one other hiccup that was resolved visa local phone call and letter. First time I have left a comment on this website. Current management is outstanding with a back-up; however, the part-time employee by the name of Robin (sp) I think is the exception. From a personal experience coupled with comments from others, unfortunately, Robin is not engaged with customer service, in fact has refused me service after ringing the bell as the sign clearly stated on the door. Slow to put the mail up, rude, attitude of unprofessional and entitlement behavior. Been a leader in Corporate America for 30 years and believe I understand. Have reservations about making another phone call or writing a letter to back it up; consequently, feel this is appropriate. Available to answer any question with fact based support. Thanks for consideration and opportunity to share. Regards.

    Oct 07, 2017
  • anon

    My Main Post Office on Backus Ave in Danbury, CT (06813), has such Super employees that the bell must ring constantly throughout the day. I have a P.O. Box there, but I still need a "live" person. I choose NOT to use the kiosk as I do NOT want any Post Office worker losing their job because of "automation". Sure, there are times with a long line persists, but I also find that the employees up their game. No matter what chaos surrounds them, there is ALWAYS a cheerful hello, how may I help you, today? greeting. I do so wish that the most direct way to report "JOB WELL DONE & GREAT CONDUCT" is through your Hotline form, too. It is too bad that the Great Employees don't receive the recognition that they so deserve.

    Oct 01, 2017
  • anon

    Tracking a package and it was scanned on my street but was not delivered to my address. Talked to the Mechanicsburg post office, supervisors and delivery person. No help told me to file a police report which I did. There are 26 mailboxes on my street. I don't feel it is my responsibility to go door to door to find out where my package is. Customer service is terrible at this location.

    Sep 28, 2017
  • anon

    Morale would increase if we had the tools necessary to complete our tasks. Staples, scotch tape, zip ties, G-10 envelopes, etc are becoming more and more difficult to gain access to. Tissue paper cost cuts add more in employees going off the floor to retrieve bathroom tissue. The new national scheduler is inane as one size DOES NOT fit all for our facilities and further decreases morale as employees become more and more confused to the lack of logicality by management.

    Sep 26, 2017