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Panel discussion: the postmen speak

“We can distinguish ourselves by the quality of our services”


They are bpost's representatives extraordinaire. Their tasks may have changed drastically in recent years, but the social aspect as well as a high-quality service remain the common thread in their work. “Every day, I talk to customers who show their satisfaction about the fact that we do not just throw their parcels in front of the door.”

How could the role of a postman in 2022 be described, and has it changed in recent years, for example due to the emergence of new technology?

Francis Antoine, 26 years of experience as a postman in Forest: “When I started working as a postman over twenty years ago, there was a lot more letter mail and our daily rounds were a lot shorter. The postman's social role was also much more important at the time: customers were demanding more social contact and we had the time to chat here and there. Today the workload is higher, and the younger generations apparently have less need for a chat with the postman.”

Mira Henno, 2 years working as a postwoman in Ixelles: “I do have the feeling that this social role remains important and is also appreciated. The conclusion is that the nature of the work has changed a lot; think of the exponential increase in parcels and registered mail. As a result, the postman has less time to take on that social role. In the past, postmen only delivered the letters, the parcels came separately. Today, my colleagues and I have gradually become a kind of delivery service.”

Jordy Zola, bpost field team project officer in Brussels: “Because there are fewer letters and more parcels, we also have to adapt the rounds. In addition, we want to offer our customers the best possible service: thanks to new options such as Sign for me, they no longer need to be at home to receive a registered mail. The same goes for parcels: our customers can choose to have them delivered in a safe place or dropped off at their neighbours. As a result, the number of direct contacts is decreasing and the role of the postman has evolved along the way.”


Jordy Zola

The postmen organize their day the way they want. So they are largely their own boss.

Jordy Zola
bpost field team project officer


But the customer itself has also evolved. Does he seek less contact with the postman?

Francis Antoine: “Indeed, although people are at home more often these days, they are usually working and therefore have less time for the postman. To be honest, I do miss that social contact. It was one of the aspects of the profession that particularly appealed to me.”

Mira Henno: “The generation gap is particularly striking: the older generation still appreciates that chat with the postman, younger people have less need for it. Although I am still quite young, I think that is a regrettable evolution.”


How will the profession evolve further?

Mira Henno: “Automation will undoubtedly continue. In addition, the share of letter post will continue to decline, so postmen will gradually become real parcel deliverers. I regret that. Today we are still responsible for the entire process of a letter or a parcel: before starting the actual delivery, we do the preparatory work ourselves. It is precisely this variety that I find fascinating.”

Francis Antoine: “I too have seen a sharp decline of the number of letters in recent years. In the long run, we will therefore have to compete with companies that only distribute parcels, whereby efficiency, speed and price are the main indicators. At the same time, I also see an opportunity for bpost: we can distinguish ourselves through the quality of our service. Every day, I talk to customers who show their satisfaction about the fact that we do not just throw their parcels in front of the door. That qualitative aspect is therefore important.”


bpost as a company that delivers quality and thus distinguishes itself from the competition. Does it offer perspective?

Jordy Zola: “Absolutely, my colleagues are citing an important aspect. Just about all the major courier companies in this country are in the process of reorganizing themselves to accommodate the growth of e-commerce. In addition, customers are increasingly able to choose their own supplier when ordering a parcel. If we can guarantee customers a positive experience throughout the entire delivery process, there is a good chance that they will systematically choose bpost, even if our prices are slightly higher. Quality becomes a real spearhead for this company. Our environmental efforts also help us to make a difference. For example, we are now experimenting with Ecozones, and we are systematically greening our vehicle fleet. Here, too, there are opportunities to gradually reverse the current, rather negative perception of e-commerce.”

Mira Henno: “I am convinced that we already have an advantage over the competition in that area. The fact that, during our round, our customers can give us parcels they need to send clearly illustrates the sustainable role we can play.”


Mira Henno

It is anything but a boring or monotonous profession: the range of tasks is extremely varied.

Mira Henno
Postwoman in Ixelles


Whether they deliver letters or parcels, the postmen are and will remain bpost's representatives extraordinaire. How can the company ensure that they can fully take on that ambassadors role while also continuing to deliver quality?

Marie Lemaître, co-founder and specialist internal communication at ECHO communication agency: “It starts with pride, and you can clearly hear that here today. Postmen themselves are well aware that they can make a difference and that their efforts are appreciated by the customer. Apart from that, it is important for a company to put together - at every level - a core team of ambassadors assigned to keep everyone within the company on board, including the sceptics. It is therefore extremely important that the management informs everyone about the company's course of business and keeps everyone involved as much as possible.”

Francis Antoine: “I have the feeling that the management is well aware of it. When I started working here, we were supposed to be doing our job, and that was it. The whole system was also stricter and more hierarchical: an office manager then behaved more or less like an army sergeant (laughs). Today, as postmen, we can, for example, call on a confidential adviser who is responsible for the staff 's well-being. bpost indeed takes care of its employees, making them more likely to behave as ambassadors.”

Jordy Zola: “Nowadays, new postmen receive a three-day training course, which also pays a lot of attention to this ambassador's role. What exactly do they stand for, what is expected of them as the 'face' of the company? Newcomers are initially somewhat surprised that we focus so heavily on it, but in the long run it pays off.”


Making every employee an ambassador is of course also a double-edged sword. To what extent does a postman remain an ambassador outside working hours, for example if he posts something on social media?

Marie Lemaître: “It is a difficult balance, because to what extent can we still completely separate work and private life today? Regardless of what they may post on social media, people are associated with the company they work for anyway. Even if they are not explicitly used as ambassadors. In my view, therefore, a company does not have much to lose when it emphatically plays out employees as ambassadors. Although everyone should realize that every statement or photo in 2022 can quickly take on a life of its own.”


Marie Lemaître

It starts with pride. Postmen are well aware that they can make a difference and that their efforts are appreciated by the customer.

Marie Lemaître
Co-founder communication agency ECHO


For years now bpost is looking for additional postmen, and that search is not always smooth sailing. How can we make candidates interested in this profession today?

Francis Antoine: “We have to be honest: wages play a key role in this matter, and today bpost got the message. Until a few years ago, the starting wage was barely higher than the average unemployment benefits, which of course made it difficult to motivate candidates to get up early and do their rounds through all kinds of weather. Today we are talking about a decent starting salary, supplemented with meal vouchers and an end-of-year bonus.”

Mira Henno: “I think we should also continue to emphasize the social aspect of this work – and its charm. In any case, a postman plays an important social role, just like a police officer or a bus driver. And that also gives you a lot of job satisfaction; it does not hurt to emphasize this. Moreover, it is anything but a boring or monotonous profession: the range of tasks is extremely varied.”

Jordy Zola: “That is absolutely right. During the training we often hear: 'I did not know that a postman did all this too.' This concerns, for example, the payment of pensions; many young candidates simply do not know that this is still part of the postman's duties. But I see another aspect that many people attach importance to: the great freedom that postal workers enjoy. There is no boss who constantly keeps an eye on things and the postmen organize their day the way they want. So they are largely their own boss.”

Marie Lemaître: “I think it is also important for a company to present the employees with the bigger picture: what do they contribute to, how important is their role? On the one hand, postmen effectively enjoy a lot of personal freedom, on the other hand they are part of that gigantic team of 36,000 people. That sense of involvement, coupled with the respect they receive within the company, can automatically make them grow in their role as ambassadors.”


If you could brazenly advertise your job, what positive aspects would you emphasize?

Mira Henno: “In addition to the social aspect mentioned earlier, there is certainly also the job security. When you work well, you should not worry about the future.”

Jordy Zola: “Today, quite a few colleagues are still somewhat concerned about the impact of advancing automation within this company. Personally, I'm not afraid of it. The automation will above all make the work lighter and easier. After all, it is precisely the employees, i.e. the people, who make the difference at bpost. Today any company can transport a parcel, but we can fall back on our very extensive network and on the service and expertise associated with it. This is also reflected in the company's personnel policy: the employees are the main focus and are being helped as much as possible through all kinds of training programs. Moreover, I know very few companies where you are offered so many career opportunities. Even people without a secondary education diploma are given full opportunities.”

Francis Antoine: “If you have a somewhat social attitude and you like to spend a lot of time outside – in good and bad weather – this is the place for you. I have been doing this for 25 years now, and it strikes me how little I get ill compared to people who sit inside all day. This is physical work, but it also benefits your health.”


Francis Antoine

Novice postmen receive a decent starting wage, supplemented with meal vouchers and an end-of-year bonus.

Francis Antoine
Postman in Forest