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When it comes to stress in the workplace, postal workers of the United States Postal Service definitely face their share of hardships and difficulties. In fact, this is pointed out as one of the reasons why employees of the USPS “go postal” a term which emanated from the 1990s when postal workers engaged in a series of real life shootings and acts of violence.
While workplace violence is not only limited to the U.S. Postal Service but to other offices as well, there are some that apply specifically to the USPS. For starters, there is the deadline that must be met on a daily basis. Mail has to be collected, processed, and delivered at whatever cost, no matter what the weather and circumstance. This kind of expectation can be tough on letter carriers, mail handlers, and other postal workers who may not feel or be at their best all the time (happens to all who consider themselves human). The constant harping of supervisors also adds to the stress.
Another reason for the stress is the constant repetition of the activities. Mail handlers handle and sort mail everyday either manually or with the use of machines. Letter carriers collect and distribute mail six days a week, most of the time on the same route. Postal clerks sell stamps, weight letters, process mail, and face customer complaints. The skills a postal worker learns on his or her first day on the job are the same skills he or she continues to do until he or she retires. The job can be unchallenging and for postal workers who crave for something new but fear the thought of leaving such a stable position, a USPS job can seem like prison.
The repetitive physical motions can also be stressful. Postal workers spend long hours standing, lifting, carrying, and walking. While the motions itself may not necessarily be that bad, the repetitive stress injuries can affect a postal worker. If recovery takes time, the constant worry about the job and not being able to work can also be stressful.
Postal workers also get stressed when they have to deal with unreasonable customer complaints. While there are rude and mean clerks and letter carriers, most of those who hold postal service positions are generally concerned about their postal customers. If they know that they have not been remiss in their jobs but are still unfairly judged by the clientele whom they serve then this can contribute to the stress that they face on the job.
At present, the current financial uncertainties faced by the Postal Service as an organization also affects workers at the grassroots. The black middle-class who make up the majority of postal workers in some urban areas may also get affected if job cuts continue unabated. Job security has always been one of the major benefits offered by the USPS and now, this concept is slowly disappearing. It certainly adds to worker stress.