It's that time of year when we've reviewed last year and are making resolutions and goals we want to meet this year. One goal should be to improve work/life balance.

Did you know that between one-third and one-half of employed adults do not take as much vacation as they have coming to them? According to research reported by R. Wayne Mondy in Human Resource Management, as compared to other countries in the world, the average of 13 days Americans take annually is small. World Tourism Organization found that Italians take 42 days, French take 37 days, and Brazilians take 34 days.

But how can employees in today's economy afford to balance their work life and take time off, especially considering downsized businesses expecting greater productivity with fewer employees while balancing the USPS' rollercoaster technological advancements this past year? Let's see how the United States Postal Service is balancing their initiatives with the mailing industry direction:

>Installation of Flats Sequencing Systems
>Reduction in the amount of Flats
>Postage payment via eDoc and file submission
>Full Service Intelligent Mail
>5-Day Operations and Delivery
>Move Update Verification MERLIN/PBV
>Standardization of 8125s

>Flats volume down 6.3 billion pieces (or 13.8%)
>Industry producing fewer pages on lighter-weight paper
>Complex implementation and system issues
>Unrealized benefits for Standard mailers
>Retail mail delivery consistency is gone
>NCOALink can use Family or Individual matching logic
>Industry software development time constraints

FSS - an excellent concept and results balancing with a reduction in flats due to high postage increases in 2007.

Industry balances that huge postage increase by producing thinner flats (lighter-weight paper and fewer pages) that will "droop"â❠too much in June 2010, necessitating another industry reaction and balancing act to stay in the mail.

What is the most simple business concept? Make it easy for them to give you money. Okay, can anyone tell me in what way is Full Service Intelligent Mail postage payment easy? The primary USPS marketing push is that we can eliminate paper. For those of you who have or are going through the process, just how much does it cost you now to eliminate the paper? No balance here.

Full Service Intelligent Mail - Address correction is not generally accomplished through the "free" ACS. It's much easier and cost-efficient to get the changes from the credit side or via NCOALink than to build systems and incorporate them into files in less than 30 days. Oh, and a majority of files used in Standard are not owned - can't make address changes! Start the clock container scans - still have to get the data and incorporate it somehow... but wait, don't we already know when we give the USPS the mail? If you don't trust your vendors to give you the correct data, that's a problem you should be able to identify and correct outside of Full Service!

So what's left? Oh, the $1.00 per thousand postage savings. There is no way that even comes close to balancing the investment on the part of service providers and mail owners. And don't forget these words from the USPS in its response to the Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman's Information Request No. 2 and 3, March 2, 2009: "...policy based differential to promote adoption of Full Service so that the promise of intelligent Mail can be more fully and expeditiously realized. (Service Performance Reporting)... USPS does not expect the incentive to become permanent, and envisioned that eventually it will no longer be relevant or meaningful and this will be phased out."â❠Hook set?

5-Day Delivery - Do not forget that movement of the mail, or operations, will also stop, and so will consistent and timely delivery.

Move Update - Be aware of the differences between what the industry can do in regards to identifying moves balanced with how USPS MERLIN is looking at it.

Technology drives the USPS and industry. Reaction to changes dictated by USPS cannot happen overnight. Great ideas still need to be incorporated into software, and wouldn't it be great to test something before it goes live?

The Mayo Clinic points out that "balance"â❠doesn't mean doing everything. Examine your priorities, and set boundaries.

Wanda Senne is the National Director of Postal Development for World Marketing. Contact her at 770-431-2591 or