Retention - what is going wrong?

Discussion in 'Royal Naval Reserve (RNR)' started by Purple_twiglet, May 18, 2011.

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  1. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    I was very struck last night at the small size of one of the largest RNR units turnout for a ceremonial divisions. A few years ago such a unit would have seen well over 200 people on parade (I should know, as I was one of them), but this year, barely 100 people mustered - 25% of whom were new entry, and many of whom were very old salts who had been there forever and are rapidly coming close to retirement age.

    What worries me is that this unit has been recruiting like mad for years, and yet this doesnt seem to be turning into trained bodies. I spoke to a few people who commented that they had been in for 4-5 years, yet they were the last survivors of their new entry classes. So why are we losing all these people?

    I know we keep banging on about recruitment, but is anyone else more than a bit worried that we now don't seem to be able to retain most people for more than 4 years - where is everyone going, and what can we do to stop this decline? If we're not careful we may lose our critical mass in the next few years and cease to be viable.
  2. I suspect it is because a lot of people are deployed now or onFTRS
  3. They maybe deployed, but I think you'll find that not many are now on FTRS, due to the cut backs within the service.

  4. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    The figure for the unit in question is 8% on an enduring level - so roughly 10-15 people tops for deployment.
  5. The increased tempo must have something to do with it. I'll try to stay vague to maintain a semblance of security; two years ago my division was in double figures. Approximately 60-70% have been mobilised over that period, and I find that attendance at unit drops both in the run up to mobilisation and also upon return, presumably as people get their lives in order.

    Based on my own division, mobilisation also seems to increase the probability of subsequently leaving after that mobilisation period. I couldn't say whether this is common across the RNR, but there are people of my division who were in for years and years, did a mobilisation, and upon return either left formally or reduced attendance so far that they might as well have left, and are now either off the books or are on the books simply awaiting the periodic sweep-out of non-attenders (barring a couple who have made it clear that they want to stay, but they're not going to be in for quite some time, either through a formal leave request or just a periodic keeping-in-touch phone call).

    Also, I think we've now hit that demographic bulge that we've been warned about for years. In the last couple of years, my branch has suddenly started losing the old and bold in noticeable numbers; generally LtCdrs and senior rates who are simply reaching the RN's upper age limits.

    Of my previously double-digit division, there are now two regular attenders; the rest are either mobilised, pre-mobilisation, post-mobilisation or just plain gone.The branch has a recruitment freeze, so I can only hope that some other unit has a lot of fresh JRs in the branch.
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  6. Fairly new to the RNR, but I saw similar issues in the early 1990s with the TA. Back then, my unit had a serious manpower crunch. Recruitment wasn't a problem in that we could get people in to join: but several effects meant that surprisingly few stayed for more than 2-3 years.

    One was operational: this was a point where, instead of being a Cold War drinking club, parts of the TA (this was a REME unit) were being called on to support ops in Bosnia. This was very good in some ways, but there was the same tendency that Uncle Albert describes: many deployees went out, did a good job, came back, and handed in their kit with a "been there, done that" approach (or family/employer pressure of "you've had your fun, you're not doing that again").

    Another was that, with a tight focus on pushing people through the training pipeline towards deployment and steady budget cuts, much of the fun had gone out of being a reservist. In the late 1980s, if you were reasonably switched-on and keen, you'd get the chance to go on range weekends, or play OPFOR or CIVPOP in exercises, or otherwise get exposed to more of the military and do something interesting outside your core tasking. After Options for Change bit, those opportunities dried up: you joined, you qualified, you deployed, and that was essentially it. Didn't seem to hit recruitment, but it was a factor in retention (including mine).

    A third point, linked to budgets again, was that the sheer embuggerance of getting anything done got worse, especially if you didn't fit seamlessly into the standard training / qualification pipeline. Courses and assessments that were declared as essential to progress, were booked solid for months or years ahead - or there was no funding available for these "optional extras". If you got on them at all, it was on a last-minute cancellation: I had less than 24 hours' notice to attend my commissioning board, never received my joining instructions, and had to guess at what kit & clothing to bring: luckily, I knew where Chilwell was from past experience...

    How many of those apply to the RNR today? I'm probably too new & green to say with confidence...
  7. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Historically, my perception of the RNR, apart from the ex-regulars, was that they had a fairly high turnover of personnel, with the average person only joining for around 3 years before leaving.

    Possibly, in light of defence reviews. the RNR perhaps relies too much on good will? The withdrawal of travelling expenses etc., will certainly take it's toll if people have to pay out of their own pocket to earn a quarter of a day's pay per drill night.

    The RMR unlike the RNR, are quite happy to allow recruits to join in the knowledge they may aspire to later join the regular service as they are more likely to succeed, perhaps after completinfg education etc - The RNR for their part actually bar candidates from joining - even if they have a 4 year wait to join the regular RN.

    The words reap & sow spring to mind.
  8. Maybe after people have completed their training, they realise that being in the RNR is shockingly ****?
    • Like Like x 2
  9. I can understand the thinking, though. RMR training is RM training; same tests, same required standard to complete, doing the same job (obviously RM has more experience etc., but you get the point). RNR branches have much, much less crossover with the RN, so a great deal of the training undergone in the RNR would be of little use once they go RN, and given that it can take three or four years to get someone in the RNR to deployable status, it's something of a waste of resources to take on people who will be leaving and going RN within that timeframe.
  10. The quality of training is the real issue with poor retention.
  11. Too high? Too low? Too much of it? Not enough of it? Too much done in unit? Too much done at Rn establishments? Too little in units? Too little at RN establishments? Not enough exposure to RN? Too much exposure to RN? Too much on joint exercises? Too little on joint exercises? Should be more focussed on niche? Should have broader cross-branch experience? Something else? All of this?
  12. The truth is that the recruitment media looks great, new entry is all high speed "exciting " stuff.
    Then branch and this it?
    Advancement is another bugbear, talk about dead mens shoes! the RNR keeps its dead!
  13. wet_blobby

    wet_blobby War Hero Moderator

    Perhaps it's just you're a bunch of muppets.

    I was going to expand on that comment but I dont think I need to. (Stand fast all medical bods)
    • Like Like x 1
  14. ......Or they've finally decided that they don't like the 'new' uniform either, UA?:wink:
  15. Nail-Head. Transfer to TA just through, the reasons I could list, but why? I didnt even get offered an exit interview. I dont think I'll be the last to go either, theres just one left from my NE class and he's ready to jack it because its "baws". Have pitched up at the TA unit twice now and its a vast difference, in attitudes to training and even their attitude about being a reserve. The biggest problem I see from my NE unit is we have joined the "Navy" yet do the square root of **** all nautical to keep the interest up.
  16. Oh yeaaa...

    I jacked several months ago for that very reason. Pointless parades, no information, unit officers who do fcuk all, PSI's with hidden/alternative/dont-give-a-fcuk agenda's and a parent unit with biased preferences to bounty committment training.

    And a more personal gripe; compulsary PT every parade night for a guy who is on the better side of 50, despite having to do PT as part of my civvie employment contract DAILY and despite me doing a 2.4k in 11 mins....... FFS, I fcuking hate PT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    They won't let lardies into Raleigh full time, so why let lardies into the RNR?

    Loads of other reasons but past caring now
  17. A divisional system that seems haphazard at best probably doesn't help.
  18. Reference the comment about specifically banning the recruitment into the RNR of those passed for the RN, but waiting 4 years to join up. I have it on the 2nd highest autority of the RNR, because I heard him say it today, that this is fixed! It may take a couple of weeks for the words to get put into action, and I know several units have a local arrangement with the AFCOs to bypass the madness, but rest assured, the madness has finished, WE CAN RECRUIT THOSE PASSED FOR RN ENTRY, BUT WAITING FOR A JOINING DAT, providing that joining date isn't next month! Recruiters, hopefully your job has just got considerably less-difficult! GOOD LUCK, we rely on you!
  19. witsend

    witsend War Hero Book Reviewer

    I've never met anyone from the RNR on a submarine, even on a visit.

    I have dived with crabs and sceptic's, hmmmmmmm.
  20. I'll gladly do it - when do we leave? Used to design bits of Spearfish, happy to bunk down with them...

    Make it two weeks or thereabouts and my sea time's sorted as well - result!

    The problem isn't lack of willing, the problem is lots of little gnomes saying "not allowed, not permitted, not authorised, not funded..."

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