This article accompanies 'You've Got Maelstrom'
To save money -- more than $150 million each year -- as well as support 588,000 employees in 34,000 post offices, the U.S. Postal Service moved to state-of-the-art technology that allows it to "work smarter while minimizing labor-intensive tasks," according to the USPS.
"Our goal of eliminating transactions and expanding 24/7 access to our human resource functions was achieved through Web-based business solutions," says Anthony Vegliante, postal service chief human resources officer and executive vice president.
In addition, according to the USPS, Vegliante has adopted these HR innovations:
The Learning Continuum is the roadmap for training and development in the postal service. Utilizing a pyramid-shaped model, it provides a framework for employee development and talent management grounded in leadership competencies.
Formal competency models outline desired behaviors at the supervisory, managerial, executive and officer levels. A series of leadership-development programs use innovative, world-class curriculum to reinforce development against these competencies.
Delivery is through a blended-learning approach: online self-study, classroom-based training, action-learning team projects, simulations and coaching. An array of leadership-assessment tools provide valuable insight and feedback participants use for honing their strengths and addressing development needs.
The LC is paired with the postal service's formal succession-planning and individual development-planning processes that assist in identifying and developing high-performing and high-potential leadership talent.
Together, they provide a holistic, structured approach to ensure future leadership needs are met efficiently and in a cost-effective manner.
Executive Leadership Program
The Executive Leadership Program is designed to equip executives with the knowledge and skills to handle the human aspects of organizational change, and to lead others through large-scale transformation.
The program includes classroom training, one-on-one coaching, and 360-degree assessments -- from the individuals themselves as well as subordinates, peers and management.
An Organizational Culture Inventory also takes place to assess the current and ideal states of the postal service. In addition to the formal training sessions, a follow-up, six-month executive-coaching program helps drive business results.
The postal service also offers processes and programs for managerial and supervisory leadership development to strengthen the bench of potentials throughout the organization.
Corporate Succession Planning
Future executives are identified through the online Corporate Succession Planning process. CSP generally operates on a two-year cycle, during which employees request to be considered as potential successors. If selected, they develop and pursue personalized individual-development plans to prepare them for the additional responsibilities of executive assignments.
Learning Management System
The postal service's Learning Management System is one of the largest job-training systems in the nation, with a library of more than 3,000 classroom and 1,800 online courses that increase the blend of classroom, technology-based delivery and on-the-job training.
In 2000, more than nine of 10 courses were delivered in expensive, labor-intensive classroom settings. In only a year following the LMS' June 2009 introduction, fewer than six of 10 courses are taken in a classroom setting.
Employees can view a list of required training, scheduled training, or complete web-based training courses by simply logging in from their desktop computers. Once there, they can review their training activities and book training with the click of a mouse.
Electronic Individual Development Plan
The eIDP was launched for employees who are not currently potential successors in Corporate Succession Planning or Executive and Administrative Leadership Development processes. The online tool provides employee assessments and suggests on-the-job and coursework training to increase skills in competencies as indicated by the assessment.
Under the LMS umbrella, the eLearning catalog features web-based training modeled after best practices from classroom training. It offers more than 1,800 courses ranging from the basics of electrical safety, to updates on new products and services, to achieving measurable and quantifiable financial results from Lean Six Sigma practices.
Since the LMS's June 2009 implementation, there have been nearly 300,000 web-based training enrollments.
In 2009, eCareer, an online-hiring system, accepted and managed more than 400,000 online applications. An automated job-bidding program offers employees represented by three labor unions the ability to view and bid for vacant positions online. Employees represented by a fourth union will have this ability later this year.
More than 1.2 million electronic bids were processed in 2009. The environmental savings of these two programs eliminated the need for 10 million pieces of paper. Individuals seeking employment now can search a nationwide listing for jobs online by visiting usps.com and clicking "Careers."
eOfficial Personnel Folders
More than 800,000 paper official personnel folders have been scanned to electronic versions. In 2010, an estimated 1.5 million personnel action forms were electronically linked to personnel folders and are now available to employees online through self-service portals.
Automating On-the-job Accident Reporting
This Employee Health and Safety management system automates accident reporting and manages injury claims. Accessible to 66,000 managers and supervisors, it eliminates or significantly reduces the use of more than 140 forms and reports.
The postal service will also see additional savings in travel costs by monitoring and performing case reviews remotely through EHS.
Flexible-work arrangements for headquarters and related employees allow them to work remotely, reducing commuting costs. Approximately 2,500 employees now either telecommute or participate in the alternate work schedule program, saving an estimated 125,000 gallons of gas and 2.7 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually.