As UPS Inc. hires a holiday workforce bigger than Macy’s Inc., recruits get a quick course in lifting heavy loads, doubling up on socks, and, in a jam, using handheld computers to fend off snarling dogs.
The world’s biggest package delivery company is rushing to hire as many as 95,000 people by next week to cope with projected record deliveries. UPS is determined to perform better than last year, when harsh weather and a surge in last-minute online shopping orders caused more than a few packages to be delivered after Christmas.
“You have these crazy kamikaze messengers,” UPS safety trainer Tony Hussienroshdy said as he advised a group of fresh hires on the perils of package delivery.
The frenzy was palpable at a training session this month in New York. As some applicants flowed in to seek positions, new employees learned to guard against back injuries while lugging packages as heavy as 70 pounds and got pointers on situational awareness in Manhattan’s crowded streets, as well as personal grooming.
UPS expects to deliver 585 million packages in December, or the equivalent of 1.9 packages for every person in the country. Such volume will put its plan to the test. The company peaked at 31 million packages delivered in a single day last holiday season; this year, it expects six days to surpass that single-day figure.
UPS started formulating its 2014 strategy shortly after last Christmas, seeking ways to handle increased volume more efficiently and reliably.
One part of that plan has UPS stringing together modular units, akin to trailer-type buildings used to add space to some schools, into 15 “mobile distribution center villages” around the country. Drivers will pull into the villages’ delivery bays, pick up a load and head back out.
Another component calls for better policing of the amounts of packages that UPS’ biggest retail customers send its way, making sure they align with companies’ forecasts. Helping to carry out these goals will be a seasonal workforce bigger than those of Macy’s, which plans 86,000 holiday hires, and Amazon.com Inc.’s 80,000.
People playing the Words With Friends game on their iPhones occasionally see a UPS job ad pop up. Most click to get rid of it, but some follow it to UPS.com, said Matthew Donoghue, who manages the UPS account for advertising agency TMP Worldwide in Boston.
Almost as many people apply for a UPS seasonal job on their cellphones as a laptop or desktop computer, Donoghue said. “It increases every year, but we saw a gigantic increase in mobile,” Donoghue said.
The company is nearing completion with its hiring push. At an investor conference Nov. 13, Atlanta-based UPS said it already had hired 80,000 holiday workers.
More laborious than hooking candidates is getting them ready for work. All told, UPS is hiring 50,000 driver helpers, 30,000 package handlers and 15,000 drivers.
On a recent drizzly day down the block from Manhattan’s Lincoln Tunnel, 25 new driver helpers, who would soon receive company-issued brown pullover jacket, hat and slacks, got advice. Every day, as many as 35 fresh faces roll through the eight-story UPS operations facility for training, joined by as many as 100 job candidates for interviews.
Hussienroshdy, the trainer, helps prepare the recruits.
Tip 1: Always be aware of your surroundings.
In New York City, a big challenge is navigating through streets clogged with taxis and tour buses, with bike delivery guys zig-zagging through at top speed.
“I’m not knocking them, but sometimes I wonder if they get up in the mornings saying, ‘I’m going to knock four people down today,’ ” Hussienroshdy said. “Don’t be one of them.’”
Tip 2: UPS’ handheld computers, or DIADs, used to scan packages and accept signatures, also can be protective devices.
Hussienroshdy advised the young hires to use them or packages to block a threatening dog. However, that’s not usually necessary in New York, where dogs often live in luxury.
“The dogs here are not that dangerous,” he said. “Some get treated better than people.”
Tip 3: Be careful when using UPS’ hand trucks, or dollies. On New York’s uneven streets, the handles can rear up and whack your chin.
“You guys aren’t going to be making that much money,” Hussienroshdy told the room of trainees who will make $8 an hour, as he explained how to handle dollies on the city’s uneven streets. “Do you really want to get hurt for that?”
Life as a driver helper can be very different depending on whether you work in New York City or a tree-lined neighborhood. Carlos Torres, a 25-year UPS driver, spends as many as 3½ hours a day dropping off packages inside the same building, 475 Park Avenue South, in Manhattan, and his world consists of four blocks surrounding it. On a normal day, the office tower will get as many 60 boxes. During the holiday season, that can more than double to 150, Torres said.
Another driver on Long Island may drive 90 miles (229 kilometers) a day going from house to house, Torres said.
As he listened to a human resources officer talk about working for UPS, applicant Neil McCurbin plotted out the next four or five years of his life. The 21-year-old from Brooklyn had been stocking clothing at a Manhattan Macy’s department store, but he wanted a more physical job.
Long term, he sees himself as a police officer. In the short term, he saw opportunity at UPS.
“I came here and was thinking — It’s something just to make some extra cash,” McCurbin said. “But this seems to me to be the perfect job.”
Source: Transport Topics