UPS Boosts Seasonal Hiring Plan 73% to Avoid Foul-Up

United Parcel Service Inc. will boost seasonal hiring by as much as 73 percent from its peak plan in 2013, when a surge in late e-commerce orders left the company unable to meet holiday deadlines.

The temporary workforce will number as many as 95,000 people to handle the crush of packages from October through January, the Atlanta-based company said today in a statement. UPS also recently sent an e-mail to 2,300 retired managers hoping to lure them into temporary service, according to Lytana Kids, vice president of workforce planning.

The holiday season will be a challenge for UPS to assure customers that they won’t face a repeat of last year’s pre-Christmas breakdowns. David Abney, who was promoted to chief executive officer in June, led a review of UPS’s response to the tardy shipments, prompting a $100 million plan to expand its parcel facilities and accelerate use of technology to improve delivery operations.

“Typically, I don’t start thinking about peak season until March,” Kids said. “This year I was in a meeting about peak season Dec. 26.”

Kids said 200 retirees have agreed to come back in roles such as training drivers and coordinating seasonal helpers.

Boost Headcount

UPS plans to boost headcount from last year, when a surge of last-minute shipping orders forced the company to quickly add 30,000 people to its original plan for 55,000 seasonal workers. Some of the additional staff this year will work at sorting facilities, which now will run five or six shifts per day instead of the typical three or four, Kids said.

Other temporary positions include loaders, delivery helpers and drivers. Some of the seasonal workers will be called back for permanent work after the peak season ends, as many college students who work part-time leave the company, Kids said. UPS often highlights how many of its executives started working in sorting or driving positions, including Abney, who started as a part-time package loader.

Aside from increased staffing, UPS said it has improved shipment tracking and made upgrades to its schedule planning.

Target Hiring

“Last year, they obviously didn’t do as good a job forecasting and planning,” said David Vernon, a New York-based analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. who rates UPS outperform. “They’ve spent a lot more time talking to their customers and they’re expecting a pretty good volume season. They’re ratcheting up the hiring, and then they’re probably putting in a little security on top of that.”

UPS shares rose 0.4 percent to $97.96 at the close in New York. They have dropped 6.8 percent this year compared with an 8.1 percent increase in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Separately today, Target Corp. said it expects to hire 70,000 seasonal workers for the year-end holiday rush, the same amount as planned last year. The Minneapolis-based retailer will officially announce the number as part of a seasonal-hiring report within the next two days.

FedEx Corp., which reports quarterly results tomorrow, declined to comment on its holiday season hiring plans, said Bonny Harrison, a spokeswoman.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. hasn’t released its seasonal hiring projection.