LC Paper No. CB(2)1467/98-99(02)
Discussion Paper for the
LegCo Panel on
Staff situation of Hongkong Post
since its trading fund operation
Meeting date : 15 March 1999
In serving the community, we at Hongkong Post want
- To be recognised in Hong Kong as an outstanding service organisation
- To be recognise worldwide as an outstanding postal service
- To have a highly motivated, satisfied and valued workforce
- To achieve high levels of customer satisfaction
- To be a viable business with sufficient resources to invest in our future
- To anticipate and meet changing needs
- To care about our customers and our colleagues
- To team up for excellence and continuous improvement
Staff Situation of Hongkong Post
since its Trading Fund Operation
The Post Office has been operating as a trading fund since 1 August 1995. Under the trading fund operation, all revenue generated by the services provided by the department is paid into the fund and all expenditure incurred by it in providing the services is paid out of the fund. This has given us more flexibility to run our business and improve our service to the public. In return for the flexibilities in financial matters, we are required to be self-financing and to meet the performance and financial targets set by the Government.
2. All staff in the Post Office Trading Fund remain civil servants. They are subject to the normal civil service terms and conditions of service. All staff matters are handled in accordance with the same civil service rules and regulations. Creation of posts is also dealt with in accordance with the normal civil service procedures.
3. As a trading fund department, our biggest challenge is to ensure that we will remain a viable business in the midst of increasing competitions and at the same time provide a reliable, efficient and universal postal service at reasonable and affordable prices. We have to improve our existing service, develop new business, and meet the changing needs of the customers. We have to be more business and service oriented. We have taken various measures to help our staff to face the new challenges.
STAFF SITUATION SINCE TRADING FUND OPERATION
Training and development--equipping the existing workforce
4. We have a workforce of 6,716 staff : 5,915 civil servants, 9 contract managers and 776 temporary staff. The departmental staff structure has remained basically the same after we have changed to trading fund operation. The Postal Officer and the Postman grades, making up 85% of the total workforce, form the backbone of the department. The management responsibilities of the department fall mainly onto members of the Controller of Posts grade. To enable the department to meet the new demand arising from the trading fund operation, we have taken on civil servants from the Treasury Accountant and Accounting Officer grades to strengthen the accounting system and the Analyst/Programmer grade to strengthen the Information Technology system, and non civil service managers from the private sector to strengthen the marketing, sales and customer service functions. More details are at Appendix A.
5. We regard people as our most important asset. In addition to the traditional departmental vocational training and the general training offered by the Civil Service Training and Development Institute, we organise tailor-made training and development programmes to our staff to ensure that they have the necessary skills to cope with the new demand of their work brought about by improvement to existing service and introduction of new services. These include enhanced management and induction training for the controlling officers, language training for counter staff, and skill training on selection interview, briefing and telephone enquiries. In 1997/98, we have organised 227 training courses for the staff, an increase of 89% over 1995/96.
6. To help induce a customer service culture throughout the department to support its trading fund operation, we launched in 1998 a large scale training programme "Care from the Heart" which included workshops, classroom training and field coaching. Over 3,500 front-line staff attended the programme. In November, we made public the programme through a series of activities in a weeklong programme "Care from the Heart Week" as our commitment to pursuing service excellence. We are about to run a similar programme for the back office staff this year.
Recruitment--filling the skills gap
7. To strengthen our business development, marketing, sales and customer service functions, we set up a Business Development Branch in 1996 and a Customer Service and Sales Division in 1997 to ensure that the customers and their needs are given priority. An organisation chart of the department is at Appendix B.
8. To deliver these functions effectively, we have recruited nine managers with the necessary experience and expertise from the commercial sector into the Business Development Branch because our staff do not have hands-on experience in these functions. These nine managers are appointed on contract terms and do not occupy civil service posts. We find this skill-gap filling arrangement very useful. It has complemented our existing workforce and at the same time provided opportunity for cross-learning through day-to-day work contact.
Motivation--striving for continuous improvement
9. We believe that recognition is a very effective means of motivation. All good work and contributions should be recognised. In addition to the various civil service motivational schemes already in place, we have set up a Staff Recognition Fund in 1998 to formally say thank you to the staff for their efforts and hard work. The Fund is used to recognize overall performance of staff in achieving performance pledges and targets by organising activities such as performance competitions within Divisions, award presentations, and distribution of First Day covers with theme message from the Postmaster General.
10. Staff could also get motivated through participation. We have set up 18 Works Improvement Teams (WIT) in different work areas with staff representatives elected from the local offices to consider ways and means to improve their own working environment and procedures. We have received more than 200 suggestions from them. When we review existing procedures or introduce new services, we often set up ad hoc task forces with staff representatives to sort things out.
11. Communication is a key area of concern of staff. It is also an area of great importance at a time of changes. We therefore hold regular meetings with staff/union representatives to exchange views and discuss matters of mutual interest. Apart from issuing weekly circulars, and bi-monthly staff newsletters, we also conduct regular briefing sessions in all operational areas to enhance face to face communication.
Improvement to service
12. As a result of the hard work of the staff, and the flexible deployment of financial resources, we have brought about many improvements to our service, thus benefiting the public and the customers. In terms of improvement to existing service, we have enhanced the Speedpost service by extending the pick-up service from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and expanding the acceptance facilities from 49 to 125 post offices. We have extended next day delivery service standard to all local mail (except permit mail and Household Circular Service), opened selected post offices on Sundays and public holidays, and provided two collections a day for posting boxes in the New Territories. We launched a new Local Standing Order Service in 1997 to facilitate philatelists to purchase new stamp issues through a standing order arrangement and have pledged to make the products available for collection from the third working day after first day of issue to the first day of issue. Other new services introduced to meet the changing needs include opening a Postshop to sell postal souvenirs, and offering HongKong e-Post service to Government departments and large business organisations to print, envelop and deliver mail to their clients. We have planned to establish the public Certification Authority for Hong Kong by end 1999 to facilitate electronic commerce activities. More details on improvements for better services are at Appendix C.
13. We obtain feedbacks from customers through various channels including customer liaison group, customer suggestions, market research etc. Since 1997 we have started to conduct structured public perception survey on an annual basis to find out how the public perceive our services. The information has helped us to identify areas for improvement. The overall satisfaction levels in the last survey conducted in 1998 remain quite high with some 94%, 98% and 96% of the customers in the general public, business and philately areas being satisfied or very satisfied with our services.
14. We conduct staff perception survey on regular basis to find out how staff think of the way in which they are managed and to act on the areas which require improvement. We issue the survey results and our planned actions in the "Pledges to Colleagues" booklet after each survey. We have conducted five surveys so far. The results have shown a general upward trend in satisfaction level in the 11 topics asked. The October/November 1998 survey results have indicated that none of these topics require special attention and that most of our staff identify themselves with Hongkong Post and are concerned with the business.
15. With the past three years' experience in the trading fund mode of operation, we find that the financial flexibilities very useful in reacting quickly to demands. It will certainly be a great help to our operation and business if we could be given more flexibilities in other areas, like staff matters, procurement matters etc. We are reviewing with the Central Government to see if these could be provided to enable us to compete successfully in the long term.
Major Items of "100 Projects for Better Services"
- Commission track and trace system for Speedpost
- Extend Speedpost pick-up service to 8p.m.
- Extend posting facilities to 5 MTR stations
- Implement overnight operations at General Post Office
- Accept and deliver parcels up to 30kg in weight
- Improve the Local Standing Order Service
- Accept payment by credit card at 49 Speedpost acceptance offices
- Introduce Mondex Card payment to 17 post offices
- Introduce Speedpost Pack
- Introduce Freepost Service
- Extend once to twice collection for New Territories posting boxes