U.S. Postal Service employees are less satisfied with their jobs than their counterparts in the private sector or at other government agencies, according to an Oct. 8 report from the Post Office’s Inspector General.

The findings draw from employee surveys issued by the agency itself, as well as reviews and surveys posted on job sites such as Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com.

“While postal workers play an essential role in the operations of the Postal Service, high non-career turnover rates, declining ratings, and multiple survey results indicate postal workers enjoy contributing to the Postal Service’s success but may sometimes feel dissatisfied or unengaged with their work,” the report stated.

“Survey results show employees are unengaged overall, though engagement has risen slightly from a low of 22 percent of respondents reporting engagement in FY 2016 to 25 percent in FY 2020. Surveys also revealed noncareer employees understood how their work contributed to the Postal Service’s success but quit due to a lack of schedule flexibility, dislike of their supervisors, and the physical demands of their jobs.”

USPS is, on its own, one of the largest employers in the United States, with approximately 644,000 employees. Of Fortune 500 companies, only Amazon and Walmart employ more people in the private sector.

In the USPS Postal Pulse survey, which is conducted annually and based in Gallup, Inc.’s Employee Engagement Survey, employees reported in every year the IG reviewed that around three quarters of them felt unengaged or actively disengaged.

“More than 90 percent of organizations who also used this survey received higher employee engagement results than the Postal Service did,” the report states.

And compared with private sector delivery services, such as FedEx and UPS, which each employ approximately 400,000 people, USPS fell behind in rankings on both Glassdoor and Indeed.

“In both FY 2017 and FY 2021, average overall ratings for the Postal Service were consistently lower than ratings for comparable organizations — both in the shipping and logistics sector and in the federal government — on Glassdoor and on Indeed,” the report said.

“While ratings for two other large shipping and logistics companies, UPS and FedEx, also dropped during this time, the Postal Service’s rating declined more than either of these other organizations.”

Part of the employee satisfaction problem stems from non-career employees, who consistently rate their job satisfaction lower than their career counterparts.

Over the past decade, USPS has started hiring far more non-career employees and offering them career jobs once a specific amount of time has elapsed and positions open up.

Non-career employees are not offered the same benefits as those with career position and non-career employees are often assigned varying hours across different locations to fill in the gaps of career schedules.

But that variability and lack of benefits means that non-career employees face a harder work-life balance than their permanent counterparts without one of the highest-rated benefits of USPS employment. Reviewers on both sites that the best aspects of working for the Postal Service was pay and benefits while the worst were management and work-life balance.

“The percentage of non-career reviewers who gave a high rating never matched nor exceeded the percentage of those who gave low ratings during any of the years within the scope period,” the report read. “In both FY 2017 and FY 2020, the percentage of noncareer employees who provided low ratings was almost twice the percentage of respondents who provided high ratings in the same year.”

As a result, turnover among non-career employees is four to five times higher than for career employees.

But the agency itself disagreed with its IG’s choice of sources for satisfaction numbers.

“The Postal Service believes the white paper’s use of data from employment websites is exaggerated and overstated. They stated that the sample of reviewed ratings is a fraction of the workforce, indicating they have their own internal data from employee surveys and exit surveys, as well as data they receive from other organizations. Management asserts that Glassdoor and Indeed are for-profit businesses rather than independent survey organizations,” the report said

“Additionally, management stated that the white paper acknowledges there are many sources of data about the Postal Service as an employer and added that the Postal Service has been recognized as a most trusted agency by various groups. Management mentioned its own survey data, management initiatives and the collective bargaining process as examples of their recognition of employee related issues and steps to improve employee turnover. They believe the initiatives they have been working on will be effective in stabilizing their workforce and reducing the non-career separation rate”

But the IG replied that Glassdoor and Indeed ratings generally match internal satisfaction scores and are often the only insight into job satisfaction that potential workers can get before applying to work at USPS.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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