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The 10-Point Plan
By Chuck Mulidore
NAPS Executive Vice President
During my 33 years with the U.S. Postal Service—22 as an EAS employee at various levels of management—I heard about employee satisfaction. From the “Voices” we used to hear, to the concept of “Engagement” and onward to “Delivering for America,” the USPS has claimed that customer satisfaction is a critical piece for the long-term survival of the agency.
While customer satisfaction is important, the quality of EAS work life, or EAS engagement, has not been a factor that USPS senior leadership ever has seriously addressed, as is obvious by the way senior leadership treats EAS employees in the Postal Service. Nor is it addressed in the “Delivering for America” plan. There is, however, ample evidence that many visionary companies promote employee satisfaction as the key to company survival.
The theory is that when employees are well motivated, they naturally will take care of their customers. “My philosophy is put your employees first, your customers second and your investors third and, in the end, everyone will be happy.” Such is the business philosophy of Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur and business leader and founder of Virgin Group.
Obviously, we know this is not the business philosophy of the USPS, as has been measured over the years and is reflected in today’s bottom-dwelling employee satisfaction scores in employee engagement surveys. In the interest of discovering what employees seek in terms of satisfaction at work, I referenced a 2009 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This study looked at 24 factors regularly thought to relate to employee satisfaction. Interestingly, the study found that employees identified these five factors as the most important:
1. Job security
2. Benefits—especially health care—with the importance of retirement benefits rising with the age of the employee
4. Opportunities to use skills and abilities
5. Feeling safe in the work environment
I can’t say that I disagree with any of these top five. The basis of the lawsuit that NAPS filed against the USPS deals largely with pay, benefits and job security. And who can argue with the next five-most-important factors affecting employee satisfaction based on the SHRM survey:
6. The employee’s relationship with their immediate supervisor
7. Management recognition of employee job performance
8. Communication between employees and senior management
9. The work itself
10. Autonomy and independence in their jobs
Thus, we see that employees across the spectrum seek good pay, job security, clear communication with their leaders and recognition of job performance, among others, as critical components of engagement and satisfaction. Perhaps most telling are the factors that were not strongly connected to employee satisfaction based on the SHRM survey:
While NAPS does support employees having the opportunity to improve their work lives through promotion, we know that, in today’s Postal Service, many employees no longer are seeking advancement into management. Perhaps if senior Postal Service leadership took care of numbers 1 through 10 in the SHRM survey, there would be more interest in career and professional development.
As we know, the workforce has changed. Employees want to be talked to in a certain way, as well as respected and treated with dignity. They value quality of life outside the workplace.
NAPS often reminds the Postal Service that EAS employees are the ones who ensure the mail moves each day by making countless decisions in the face of endless telecons, harassment and layers of redundant reports and reporting requirements that hinder, rather than facilitate, the movement of America’s mail. We do all this, despite what often seems like the Postal Service’s efforts to get in our way.
So, here’s my recommendation after all the surveys have been reviewed:
How about alongside the 10-year plan we have a 10-point plan to improve how the USPS treats its own managers, postmasters and supervisors?
In fact, it already is laid out for senior leadership right here in this column! Do that and our customers, the American people, will reap the benefits of an engaged and motivated EAS workforce.
Lastly, I wish each of you sincere happy holidays, a merry Christmas and a joyous New Year. Thank you and God bless you for all you do for NAPS, the Postal Service and our nation.