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Postal Service Success Comes From Developing People

WASHINGTON, April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Enhancing a performance-based culture in the U.S. Postal Service comes from focusing on improving employee development, diversity, recruiting, safety and access to employee benefits around-the-clock.

Senior Vice President of Human Resources Suzanne Medvidovich told the Board of Governors at its monthly meeting that "Just about all of our career employees make a 30-year commitment to the organization. It's our obligation, as an employer, to be committed to our people."

Medvidovich outlined the extensive initiatives, undertaken as part of the 2002 Transformation Plan, that have been the focus of her department. "Since most mail is sorted on automation equipment, there was a need to change a 30-year-old hiring process, to one that places a premium on customer focus, attitude and teamwork," she said. In addition, the Postal Service also added innovative recruitment programs for professional, technical and specialist trainees with diverse backgrounds. "It's all about getting the right people for the right job. And once we get the right people, we develop them," she said.

The Postal Service is streamlining, standardizing and automating the way its Human Resource department works, she said, moving away from a paper-driven system to more efficient, electronic system. "It will be one of the largest HR initiatives in the world," she noted. The new system, called, PostalPEOPLE is a web-based and phone system operating 24 hours, seven days-a-week.

Another important element of special focus is safety. The Postal Service initiated programs aimed at greater education with regard to safety and increased support of partnerships with unions and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Medvidovich said that through the partnership, Ergonomics Risk Reduction, teams at 69 local sites developed solutions that have reduced lifting and handling accidents by 75 percent. The team approach will be expanded to 93 sites this year.

"We're also proud of our leading roles in the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Admission to this program isn't easy, but it pays big dividends," she said. VPP sites have up to 50 percent fewer accidents. There are 20 sites participating and another 65 slated to be added this year, making the USPS a national leader.

Also, she mentioned that through a partnership with the National Association of Letter Carriers, they are working on developing training for hazard identification and other safer work practices nationwide.

"Every day, more than 250,000 carriers go down just about every street in the nation. They contend with ice, snow, dogs, traffic and the occasional child chasing a ball into the street. And last year, we moved 25 billion pounds of mail. There's a huge potential for accidents. So we're working hard to make sure accidents don't happen," she said.

So far, results over the last three years have been impressive, Medvidovich said. There has been a 41 percent reduction in OSHA reportable illnesses and injuries, 12 percent reduction in motor vehicle accidents, "which means that over 29,000 more employees went home safely to their families."

In closing her remarks to the board, Medvidovich said, "We have to continue improving the workplace. It's good for the Postal Service. It's good for our employees. And it's good for our customers. It's the right thing to do."

In other board action, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Anita Bizzotto gave a presentation on Business Connect(TM) an initiative that encourages postmasters, station managers, and branch managers to help small and medium-sized businesses create more business with Postal Service(TM) products and services.

Bizzotto said the program is designed to increase business owners' awareness of how Postal Service products and services can meet their mailing needs and save them time and money.

In his remarks, Postmaster General John E. Potter said that after three years of decontamination and refurbishment due to anthrax contamination, the Trenton Processing and Distribution plant was reopened. The facility contains new sorting equipment and bio-hazard-detection sensors. He further noted that the Trenton plant was one of 100 mail processing facilities across the nation to receive bio-hazard detection equipment which was deployed over the past year. He added that phase two of the deployment schedule begins this month when an additional 172 sites will receive bio-hazard detection systems over the next eight months.

Since 1775, the Postal Service has connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. It is an independent federal agency that visits 142 million homes and businesses every day and is the only service provider delivering to every address in the nation. The Postal Service receives no taxpayer dollars for routine operations, but derives its operating revenues solely from the sale of postage, products and services. With annual revenues of more than $69 billion, it is the world's leading provider of mailing and delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the world. The Postal Service delivers more than 46 percent of the world's mail volume-some 206 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year-and serves seven million customers each day at its 37,000 retail locations nationwide.

Source: U.S. Postal Service

Using a mailing service can save businesses time, money

DEC 27, 2005 - For Madison Area Technical College, the problem was how to mail tens of thousands of alumni newsletters.

The college didn't have the space to prepare a bulk mailing, said Kathy Waters, the lead worker at MATC's mail center. And they didn't have the machinery to make the process easy, meaning they were looking at having to do the job by hand.

But there was a solution, which saved the college $5,000: Use a mailing services company, one that had the machinery and expertise to get the job done fast and efficiently.

"Mailings can be a very effective way of doing business," said Terri Bouffiou, customer relations coordinator for the Madison branches of the U.S. Postal Service. But she added, "as well as a big cost to a company."

Mailing-services companies' assistance may be more important and timely beginning next month, when postal rates rise by about 5 percent.

Everything from the color of ink to the shape of an envelope can add cost to a mailing. Mailing-services companies sort items, which saves money per piece.

The Postal Service created the mailing service industry by offering mailing discounts, said United Mailing Services district manager Mark Colb. Mailing-services companies, by sorting mail, take away much of the Postal Service's workload.

United Mailing has five branches in Wisconsin, including one in Madison, and 500 employees.

"We are the mail business, we know about the postage industry," said J&J's Bauer. When businesses use mailing services companies, "they can focus on the core business that they have."

Mailing-service companies advise clients about the best ways to get mailings noticed. They also provide automated inserting equipment and mailing lists.

"I just met with a law firm that sends mail out at full rate and also uses a carrier service," Bauer said. "I went in and educated them and I figured out I'd save them about $2,000 per year. Once their mailing equipment lease is up, I can save them another $1,200 per year."

"A lot of this is educating the customers about their options," said J&J's operations manager, Jeff Utter.

Design errors are one of the the most common mistakes people make with mailings, said Bruce Virgin, vice president and general manager of First Class Mailers on North Fair Oaks Avenue in Madison. A flower company he worked with made a $3,500 mistake when they printed a direct mail advertisement on the wrong color of paper. The paper was too dark, so the post office couldn't distinguish between the paper and the text, Virgin said.

Capital Newspapers, publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times, also provides mailing services through its Target Marketing program.

Nonprofits can also save big. Volunteers often stuff envelopes and put stamps on mass mailings, Virgin said. But these groups can save more money by bringing the job to a mailing service because as a nonprofit organization, they can receive a special bulkmail rate, bringing their cost from 18.5 cents per piece - the best price if they do the mailing on their own - to as cheap as around 9 cents per item.

Mailings also often take longer than expected, Bouffiou said. Before a mailing is sent out, it needs to be designed and printed. The company needs a mailing permit and a mailing list. Mailing-services companies, however, can provide all of that and complete most mailings in less than a week, Bouffiou said.

Capital Mailing Systems on Advance Road in Madison mostly caters to small businesses. The most common and costly mistake businesses make is formatting for bar code, said business manager Daniel Phelps. Incorrect bar codes can cost businesses an extra 5 cents per piece, which, for a large mailing can mean thousands of dollars.

"The domestic mail manual is hundreds of pages long and people in mail services are people who are experts of that book," Phelps said.

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