Guest post by Older and Wiser.
Older and Wiser is a rural carrier.
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This is how I see it!
Much has been written recently about the brain drain occurring in the Federal government. It refers to older workers of the Baby Boomer generation retiring and taking all that experience with them and the challenge to have those workers mentor the younger employees by passing on that valuable knowledge. I even saw an article that the USPS is running into the same situation. From my vantage point down below, the Postal Service is having a problem with a reverse brain drain, which is the USPS is losing valuable opportunities by people not leaving the Postal Service.
My former supervisor used to call our district office “the country club.” The supervisor’s description of that office sounded like a halfway house where people went to retire before they retired. If your job was eliminated and you were part of the “ole boy’s club”, they found you some job somewhere. Sometimes, they would visit our office. They would have coffee with the postmaster, look for “orphans” in an empty carrier’s case, make sure the correct placards are on the white plastic bins and call it a day. This is such a waste of people’s experience on little things when we have larger “fish to fry” in the field.
It would be wrong of me to paint all people in the district/regional offices with a broad brush that makes them look as non-contributors to the Postal Service efforts. Maybe the problem is that management is not making proper use of these resources. In the field we have scanning difficulties, finding proper replacement subs, package delivery challenges, and a myriad of other problems where these people could be put to good use, yet the problems linger without resolution.
The USPS needs an infusion of young blood into these offices. My solution would be to revamp the mix of personnel in the district/regional offices. Having a collection of experienced people might seem to be a good way to attack problems, but that does not provide a diversity of opinion. You need to get younger people from the outside business world involved because they would offer views that would complement those of the experienced USPS workers. Take someone with 7-10 years in the “regular” business world, hire them, and indoctrinate them into a craft, such as a rural carrier, for a year. Then bring them back into the district/regional office and let them use their 7-10 years of business savvy and newly found postal experience to work with postal personnel in planning and problem resolution. You will find that they will think differently and use business tools that are foreign to the USPS. Hopefully this collaboration will help move the Postal Service forward into the 21st Century.
There is just one thing that would need to be changed for this scenario to succeed. The district/regional offices will need to get used to “Crossing the Great Divide,” which just happens to be the title of my next article. See you soon.