Behind the Postal Pulse Survey



The U.S. Postal Service’s new Postal Pulse employee survey is a Gallup company standardized survey that has been administered to more than 25 million employees in almost 200 countries (as of 2012). The 12 question Gallup survey is almost word-for-word the exact same survey the USPS is asking postal employees to complete. The current wording in the survey dates back to 1998 and has undergone extensive review and analysis by Gallup and the business academic community. The survey seeks to identify workplace perceptions and how they impact business unit performance with the goal of creating positive changes in the workplace.

The survey questions sound innocent enough (though there’s nothing insidious about any of them), but Gallup can glean a wealth of statistically-driven information from the answers. Take question number 10 for example; “I have a best friend at work”. According to Gallup, employees who report having a best friend at work were:

– 43% more likely to report having received praise or recognition for their work in the last seven days.
– 37% more likely to report that someone at work encourages their development.
– 35% more likely to report coworker commitment to quality.
– 28% more likely to report that in the last six months, someone at work has talked to them about their progress.
– 27% more likely to report that the mission of their company makes them feel their job is important.
– 27% more likely to report that their opinions seem to count at work.
– 21% more likely to report that at work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day.

The APWU, for one, is vehemently opposed to its members taking the survey because USPS management “has used workers’ responses on past surveys against union members during contract negotiations,” according to the APWU.

The Postal Pulse survey is being championed by new Postmaster General Megan Brennan who addresses the survey in the Postal Service’s latest edition of Business Focus, a video message intended for USPS employees. In the video (below), Brennan says the survey was designed “based on your feedback, to make something simpler, more secure, and most important, more actionable.”

It’s not clear how the USPS will be able to utilize the results. One apparent problem is the survey seems intended for traditional work units, including those of corporate America. The USPS has an industrial-type workforce with rigid processes and controls. But let’s hope the USPS gets something out of it. According to Gallup, the company charges $5 to $50 for each employee expected to take the survey,¬†with a survey only version available for small-to-medium sized businesses at $15 per employee.

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