Just like most warehouse jobs, working as a package handler has its pros and cons. First, working as a package handler for UPS can be hard on your body. This is the #1 reason why most package handlers quit.
Other reasons employees at UPS quit are:
- get depressed due to a variety of reasons
- low wages compared to other jobs in their location
- repetitive and boring work
- discouragement from friends, family and colleagues
However, there are tips and tricks that many package handlers have used to make the job at least tolerable if not enjoyable.
If you follow them, you might be able to hold on to your job a little longer than quitting too soon.
Eat healthy & high calorie food
Eat healthy food with enough calories. Package handling is a difficult job and will drain your energy. You will definitely need to eat enough food to account for this.
Avoid fast food, however, because it is expensive and not worth it health wise. Instead consider making your own food.
Meal prepping is certainly a good option as you can make your food on your days off to eat during your work days. An added benefit is that it will stop you from buying food at the break room which is a lot more expensive.
Get enough sleep
Your body needs rest to recover from the amount of work you will be doing at the hub. Otherwise, your performance will decline. Try to get as many hours of sleep as you can.
If you work the night shift, you may find it hard to adjust to your new sleeping schedule. Blackout curtains, sleeping masks and melatonin come in handy in these cases.
Bring a bottle of water
Staying hydrated should be one of your top priorities when working as a package handler.
This is because you will sweat a lot due to how much you have to lift and the amount of heat that you can be exposed to during the summer.
Dehydration reduces your performance and will lead to fatigue which is generally not a great feeling when slinging boxes.
Use proper lifting techniques
Use correct lifting procedures. Injuries are quite common in warehouse settings and working as a package handler is no different.
One of the most common causes of injuries at a UPS hub is using improper lifting procedures which may lead to strained muscles and bad joints. Stretch regularly to minimize soreness (before and after work).
High quality gloves with good grip will make lifting easier especially when loading or unloading.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Not everyone starts out as an expert. If there’s something you find challenging, other workers, trainers and supervisors are usually more than willing to help out.
If an item is too large or heavy, ask a supervisor for assistance. In the same vein, if you feel suddenly unwell due to exhaustion (e.g. feel like you’re going to faint) talk to someone immediately.
Cuts and bruises are inevitable
As you will most likely be handling coarse boxes and jiffies, paper cuts will be unavoidable. To limit this, wearing gloves and long sleeved shirts is recommended.
The most common areas of your body to get cuts are your lower arms and shins.
Come with the right work shoes
Wear appropriate work shoes. Heavy objects (e.g. pallets) such falling is very common and could lead to painful injuries if an item falls on your toes.
I recommend composite toe shoes as they are light and protect your toes just as effectively as their steel toe counterparts.
Don’t overwork yourself
Treat it like a regular job. Don’t strain yourself too much especially if you don’t plan to stay there too long. Working way harder than expected only sets the bar higher for how much you should work in the eyes of your supervisors.
Treat the job like a free gym membership. Perform at a decent pace and give yourself enough time to rest, e.g. get more sleep and enough rest during your days off.
Being a package handler will whip you into shape if you weren’t before.
Be patient, you’ll get used to the job
Many people quit way too soon forgetting that it takes time (as much as 30 days) for your body to adjust. As long as you show up every day you’re supposed to and show your supervisors that you’re trying your best, you will rarely get fired.
Remember, being a part-time package handler is the most surefire way of becoming a UPS driver.
Take advantage of benefits
After nine months, you will be eligible to join the union which comes with great benefits. Benefits include (but not limited to):
- dental, vision and hearing care
- tuition reimbursement
- employee assistance program
Music and podcasts help reduce boredom
Listening to music or podcasts helps break the monotony and makes the day go by faster. Since you’ll be doing repetitive work for many hours each day, it is easy to get burnt out over time.
Having something to listen to while working reduces prolonged under-stimulation experienced by package handlers after a few hours on the job.
Many UPS hubs allow their employees to wear one ear bud. If you are friendly with your supervisors, they might allow you to wear two of them.
Career advancement options are available
Take advantage of the available opportunities to advance your career at UPS. After your nine months, there are several paths you can take to start climbing the ladder especially if you plan to stay longer than a few months.
You can be a driver, supervisor or trainer. These are some of the first jobs you might get into before advancing into higher level positions in management such as manager or division manager.
Quit the right way
If you decide that the job isn’t for you and want to quit, it is always advisable to give notice first. That way, you don’t burn bridges and may be eligible for rehire in the future.
Talk to your union steward to inquire more about your options. Remember that if you are already in the union, you will lose any seniority you had when you come back.