Author Topic: Retention vs Recruiting  (Read 6143 times)

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Offline Mediman14

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Retention vs Recruiting
« on: May 23, 2018, 19:03:43 »
Throughout my career, I have seen multiple efforts on recruiting new members, depending on geographical location and population targeted there has been some success. However, correct me if I am wrong, from my perspective, not enough is being done to retain the members with all those years of experience.
   Given the ever changing society, I feel that the CAF need to do more to retain our members. Some examples of this is to change policy's currently in place, such as LWOP, postings or basically anything that affects the house hold. I do understand that things just can't change overnight due to the NDA or even the red tape in place.
    I know one thing that apparently will be out shortly, the Medical Category system, Release item 3B will probably not be as easy anymore. I think it's a step in the right direction.

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2018, 19:09:36 »
What should the release rate be?

That's always my first question when people start to talk "retention".  In a hierarchical organization where, with few exceptions, people enter at the bottom and progress upwards, with almost no lateral entry, what do we want our attrition to look like?

Once we figure that out, and once we use the information already available, we can start talking about whether there is a retention problem.  But with attrition at 7% now, and historically (Note; Reg F only in this discussion), is an average of 14 years of service per retired member bad?  Do we want everyone to serve 35 years?

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Offline Mediman14

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2018, 19:21:15 »
What should the release rate be?

That's always my first question when people start to talk "retention".  In a hierarchical organization where, with few exceptions, people enter at the bottom and progress upwards, with almost no lateral entry, what do we want our attrition to look like?

Once we figure that out, and once we use the information already available, we can start talking about whether there is a retention problem.  But with attrition at 7% now, and historically (Note; Reg F only in this discussion), is an average of 14 years of service per retired member bad?  Do we want everyone to serve 35 years?
I don't think 35 years for everyone is ideal depending on their motives in life. There is no set number to determine. I have personnel seen several outstanding leaders with so much experience calling it quits not because it's their time, but because they have put so much into the CAF, meaning, they look after the organization and it needs but never gotten the same back when needed. I have been in an audience of several Snr Officers saying how the CAF is one big family and how we should look after one another.

Offline ExRCDcpl

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2018, 20:30:29 »
I don't think 35 years for everyone is ideal depending on their motives in life. There is no set number to determine. LI have personnel seen several outstanding leaders with so much experience calling it quits not because it's their time, but because they have put so much into the CAF, meaning, they look after the organization and it needs but never gotten the same back when needed. I have been in an audience of several Snr Officers saying how the CAF is one big family and how we should look after one another.

I think just by virtue of the size and nature of the CAF you will always have retention issues.

Having said that....the organization doesn’t always help itself.  I was once an incredibly proud soldier who put the CAF first.  These days I’ve realized it has no loyalty to me and thus I have no loyalty towards it.  I exist for the sole purpose of making a higher ups PER look good and because of that, this is a pay check and nothing more.  Having said that, I will always do what is asked of me to the best of my abilities as I have too much personal pride to do anything less.

As stated, I don’t think retention is anything that can ever be truly rectified due to things such as private sector paying more, more stability when it comes to setting up roots etc.  That all said, retention could potentially be helped, I believe, if the powers that be showed a bit of understanding every now and then to the “little guys.”

Just my .02
« Last Edit: May 23, 2018, 20:33:19 by ExRCDcpl »

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2018, 21:27:40 »
Grace has a point:

"You manage things; you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington." -- Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hooper

If Generals had retention targets as well as recruiting targets, like in some private sector workplaces, tied to their compensation packages you'd probably see some changes. Fast.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline dapaterson

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2018, 21:44:13 »
Grace has a point:

"You manage things; you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington." -- Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hooper

If Generals had retention targets as well as recruiting targets, like in some private sector workplaces, tied to their compensation packages you'd probably see some changes. Fast.

And they'd be ill considered and ill conceived, because we manage within the framework of a fiscal year.  Should we retain everyone?  Should we say "Right, you're a 55 year old Maj with 35 years of service and no possibility for advancement and limited skills we need, so we'll keep you, meaning a strong captain will be back for a year or more because you're afraid of the outside world"?  Is it more important to keep that Capt with potential and another two decades to give, or the portly, stubborn, unimaginative major?

We don't have the luxury of unlimited positions.  Keeping everyone "just because" is institutionally damaging.  While the American model of Up or Out is problematic, our "Do what you want, stay as long as you want, we'll never fire you" is probably worse.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2018, 22:57:33 »
And they'd be ill considered and ill conceived, because we manage within the framework of a fiscal year.  Should we retain everyone?  Should we say "Right, you're a 55 year old Maj with 35 years of service and no possibility for advancement and limited skills we need, so we'll keep you, meaning a strong captain will be back for a year or more because you're afraid of the outside world"?  Is it more important to keep that Capt with potential and another two decades to give, or the portly, stubborn, unimaginative major?

We don't have the luxury of unlimited positions.  Keeping everyone "just because" is institutionally damaging.  While the American model of Up or Out is problematic, our "Do what you want, stay as long as you want, we'll never fire you" is probably worse.

And maybe the way we define 'positions' needs to change too:

"Of course, people are more likely to jump ship when they have a horrible boss. But we’ve spent years working to select and develop great managers at Facebook, and most of our respondents said they were happy with theirs. The decision to exit was because of the work. They left when their job wasn’t enjoyable, their strengths weren’t being used, and they weren’t growing in their careers.

At Facebook, people don’t quit a boss — they quit a job. And who’s responsible for what that job is like? Managers.

If you want to keep your people — especially your stars — it’s time to pay more attention to how you design their work. Most companies design jobs and then slot people into them. Our best managers sometimes do the opposite: When they find talented people, they’re open to creating jobs around them."


https://hbr.org/2018/01/why-people-really-quit-their-jobs
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline dapaterson

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2018, 23:06:20 »
True.  There does need to be greater flexibility, managed at lower levels.  But there also needs to be some higher level oversight, to keep, say, the Royal Regiment of Lac La BIche from being overrun with the lame, overweight, and incompetent.

Finding the perfect balance between strategic direction and local control remains the holy grail of HR...


Ultimately, if the military is nothing more than welfare in uniform, it's a failure.  If there is no larger purpose and loyalty to help individuals transition out when they can no longer serve / they are no longer needed, it's a failure.

But "Bob's a good guy, let's stash him somewhere until he ages out" does no favours to Bob or to those who serve with or under him, if he's not contributing in a way that requires him to be in uniform.
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Offline ballz

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2018, 23:57:56 »
Ultimately, if the military is nothing more than welfare in uniform, it's a failure.  If there is no larger purpose and loyalty to help individuals transition out when they can no longer serve / they are no longer needed, it's a failure.

But "Bob's a good guy, let's stash him somewhere until he ages out" does no favours to Bob or to those who serve with or under him, if he's not contributing in a way that requires him to be in uniform.

Odd.... It looks like you just described our HR system but I could swear by how this conversation started out, you were arguing in favour of our current practices.
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2018, 05:33:54 »
Our instutitional model is based on everybody going up in rank with some attrition at all levels, and recruitment meeting overall attrition.  Our professional development is based on that.

The issue is that not everybody aspire to be a CAF CWO or a CDS and are perfectly happy at the working ranks.  There is no real mean or incentive (besides liking your job) to be that technical expert at the Cpl/MCpl/Capt/Maj ranks. Many countries have dual streams (leadership vs technical expert) where pay increases in the technical expert fields at the same rate it would if you were on the leadership stream but you retain a working rank.  Some countries (Australia) even allow going from technical expert to leadership stream without losing pay or seniority for rank.

The only issue this concept doesn't address is poor performers that do not fit in either a leadership stream nor a technical stream (ie: they are poor performers at their technical job and they are not fit for advancement in rank).  What I suggest is sort of a "up our out" hybrid solution where is after x time in your working rank, if it is deemed you likely won't make it in either stream, a CRB is convened to analyze if a. With more time, you can make it to the level required for leadership or tech streams, b. You would be a good candidate for VOT to another trade or c. You are not fit for duty in the CAF.

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2018, 08:40:43 »
The issue is that not everybody aspire to be a CAF CWO or a CDS and are perfectly happy at the working ranks.  There is no real mean or incentive (besides liking your job) to be that technical expert at the Cpl/MCpl/Capt/Maj ranks. Many countries have dual streams (leadership vs technical expert) where pay increases in the technical expert fields at the same rate it would if you were on the leadership stream but you retain a working rank. Some countries (Australia) even allow going from technical expert to leadership stream without losing pay or seniority for rank.

I think Singapore has that, where there's a parallel "tech expert" rank structure to the military ranks.  Seems to be working for them. 

I've never heard of the Aussies having separate streams though when I was working with them, but that may have changed recently. 
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline dapaterson

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2018, 09:07:55 »
Odd.... It looks like you just described our HR system but I could swear by how this conversation started out, you were arguing in favour of our current practices.

I'm arguing against knee-jerk reactions.  Is there really a retention problem?  Or, as you age, do you see more peers leaving as they hit traditional exit points and thus your perception is skewed?

Do we need to up our HR game?  Yes.  But is there a huge retention crisis?  I'd argue not.  There may be specific occupations with issues, or certain control points we don't adequately exploit, but, if anything, I'd argue we've got a top-heavy structure that needs paring, and the follow on to that is a more ruthless culling.  So maybe my response to the question "Is there a retention problem?" is that yes, we have a retention problem - we retain too many people.
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Offline Remius

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2018, 09:39:16 »
I'm arguing against knee-jerk reactions.  Is there really a retention problem?  Or, as you age, do you see more peers leaving as they hit traditional exit points and thus your perception is skewed?

Do we need to up our HR game?  Yes.  But is there a huge retention crisis?  I'd argue not.  There may be specific occupations with issues, or certain control points we don't adequately exploit, but, if anything, I'd argue we've got a top-heavy structure that needs paring, and the follow on to that is a more ruthless culling.  So maybe my response to the question "Is there a retention problem?" is that yes, we have a retention problem - we retain too many people.

There is a section in this AG report from 2016 that deals with recruitment and retention.  There are problems in both.

http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_201611_05_e_41834.html#p112

Specifically here:

Keeping the right people
The Regular Force did not implement its retention plan
Overall message
5.102 Overall, we found that the Regular Force experienced high levels of attrition in some occupations. Although it knew the causes of attrition, the Regular Force had not implemented its most recent overall retention strategy, nor had it developed specific strategies to respond to the challenges of each occupation.

5.103 This finding matters because the military’s operational capability depends on the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to retain highly specialized, trained, and experienced military personnel on a long-term basis. It is also important because training and developing people is expensive, particularly in certain occupations; it is therefore more cost-effective for National Defence if, once trained, members stay with the Canadian Armed Forces.



One thing they highlight is high attrition rates in 23 trade groups.  Training wait times being an issue.  I remember some people finishing their 1st VIE without even completing their training and leaving. 

It's an interesting read but it dates from 2016.

Optio

Offline Pusser

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2018, 10:53:33 »
I often think there is entirely too much emphasis placed on long careers in the CAF.  I think instead, we should use a model that assumes that the majority of personnel will only serve for a short time (e.g. 5-10 years), with only a few being selected for further service.

We should first fix the recruiting system so that it doesn't take 18 months to enroll someone.  I'm curious if there has ever been a study to determine how many people are ultimately not enrolled as a result of something found during that 18 month background check.  Then we should compare that to the number of potential recruits we lose as they get fed up with the enrollment process.  We need to get people onto basic training faster.

Next, we front-end load too much training.  After basic training, they should only get enough environmental training to make them useful in a Navy, Army or Air Force unit.  This need not and in fact, should not be trade training. When they get to their first units, they should be given the opportunity to help and observe a variety of different areas (everybody can use a few extra hands to help with the mundane tasks).  After awhile, both the member and the CAF will have a better idea of the individuals aptitudes and desires.  Then, they can be selected for trade training.

All in all, we should recruit more, but actually retain less.  Only the best and most willing should be retained.  If folks realize that retention is competitive, they may up their game or move on.  It should be that only the Sgts-CWOs and Majs-Gens would be career men/women.  Everyone else would do a few years and get out.  This keeps fresh blood coming into the organization, yet retains the experience at levels where it's truly needed.  It would also likely mean that more Canadians would have a chance to serve in the armed forces and that has to be good thing.
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Offline Eagle Eye View

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2018, 12:23:29 »
Quote
All in all, we should recruit more, but actually retain less.  Only the best and most willing should be retained.  If folks realize that retention is competitive, they may up their game or move on.  It should be that only the Sgts-CWOs and Majs-Gens would be career men/women.  Everyone else would do a few years and get out.  This keeps fresh blood coming into the organization, yet retains the experience at levels where it's truly needed.  It would also likely mean that more Canadians would have a chance to serve in the armed forces and that has to be good thing.

This is good on paper but most Air Force trades can take up to 3/4 years of continuous training before being able to do the job. Also, we now see members being promoted to Sgt within 7/8 years of service. Again, I'm not sure if it'll fix anything to be honest, particularly within the RCAF.   
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Offline Quirky

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2018, 12:53:07 »
Also, we now see members being promoted to Sgt within 7/8 years of service.

This doesn't help at all. We currently have a 4:1 ratio of Sgts to MCpls at our unit alone and there aren't enough good Cpls to promote. We take really good MCpl techs off the floor who just want to turn wrenches and be floor supervisors for the majority of their careers and stuff them into an office. There is nothing wrong with being a mechanic for your career, but when your pay tops out why bother staying in the CF?

Offline Pusser

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2018, 13:41:25 »
This is good on paper but most Air Force trades can take up to 3/4 years of continuous training before being able to do the job. Also, we now see members being promoted to Sgt within 7/8 years of service. Again, I'm not sure if it'll fix anything to be honest, particularly within the RCAF.

My idea is that I wouldn't give them any specific trade training in that first three years.  Admittedly, I'm not sure how or even if it would work for the Air Force, but I'm fairly confident, we could usefully employ personnel in the both the Army and Navy for three years without a great deal of trade training.  As it is, we currently recruit a sailor who can spend upwards of a year on training before he even sees his first ship.  Once at sea, although he will get a fair bit of time working in his trade, he will also spend a lot of time on general shipboard duties that anyone can do and have to be done (cleaning stations, watch on deck, scullery, laundry, etc).  Why spend a lot of time in training someone for a job they will only get to do for part of the time?

I envision a system where people are recruited for a three year term.  They are given basic military and environmental training and then employed on general duties for the duration of their three years with only minimal follow-on training.  In that three years, they would get exposure to all aspects of service life in their respective environments, which in the case of the Navy would include spending time with all departments on board (e.g. spend a few months/weeks helping the stokers clean engines, general duties in the galley, etc.).  The idea would be for them to get good exposure to everything that goes on onboard a ship.  They would also spend some time ashore helping (and learning about) supporting ships.  Add in to all of this would be time spent on "public duties" (e.g. ceremonial guards - instead of hitting up units to provide).  The idea is that at the end of the three years, they've had a chance to look at us and we've had a chance to look at them in order for everyone to make better and more informed choices about what trade they wish to pursue.  I'm sure we could do something similar for the Army in the sense that everyone could spend a few months in each of the combat arms as well as a service battalion, etc.

I would like to see this as sort of voluntary national service program, where people join with the understanding that they will only receive minimal training, low pay, be employed in mostly mundane tasks (with a few opportunities for excitement - port visits) and will likely have to live in single quarters.  Doesn't sound too appealing, but I think we could add the following incentive.  If you satisfactorily complete your three years, the following options become available:

1) release and then be provided with full tuition to complete a bachelor degree, diploma or other certificate at any approved Canadian post-secondary institution;

2) continue to serve with a retention bonus (essentially equivalent to the amount of tuition the ones releasing would get) and immediately sent on trade training; or

3) continue to serve with a  retention bonus and sent on officer training.

It would seem to me that providing an opportunity for people to earn their entire tuition would lead to no shortage of applicants and there would be the following benefits to both the individual and the country:

1)  a far greater number of people would end up serving in the CAF, which can't be a bad thing.  Public support for the CAF increases if more people have exposure to military service;

2)  better informed choices can be made by both the individuals and the CAF as to the best path (individuals will have a better understanding of the trades they may wish to pursue.  The CAF will have a better idea of the individual's suitability);

3)  more personnel available for public duties (yes, this is important because it's about public engagement, which leads to better support from the public); and

4)  all potential officers could benefit from a little time in the ranks.
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Offline ballz

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2018, 14:36:01 »
I'm arguing against knee-jerk reactions.  Is there really a retention problem?  Or, as you age, do you see more peers leaving as they hit traditional exit points and thus your perception is skewed?

Do we need to up our HR game?  Yes.  But is there a huge retention crisis?  I'd argue not.  There may be specific occupations with issues, or certain control points we don't adequately exploit, but, if anything, I'd argue we've got a top-heavy structure that needs paring, and the follow on to that is a more ruthless culling.  So maybe my response to the question "Is there a retention problem?" is that yes, we have a retention problem - we retain too many people.

I'm of the opinion we retain too many of the wrong people simply because the right people have other/better options and that's where we need to improve... the CAF makes it absolutely torturous, or impossible, to try and pursue anything outside of your first job. It's set up for one thing... enroll as "x," get trained as "x," and follow career progression in "x" trade until retirement.

I don't think the top-heavy part is a retention issue, I think that's a leadership issue (i.e. we don't know how to run anything efficiently, particularly those who "run" things), but then combine that with the retention issue at lower levels which eventually feed all those bloated HQs and yeah, it's bad.
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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2018, 16:41:25 »
Pusser, we're already having a struggle to attract people.  What makes you think by saying "Hey! we won't really train you and we'll probably kick your *** out the door after a couple of years" will have them beating down our doors. I can see that flying like a lead balloon.

You want to get kids in for a few years to spot the talent and dump the rest?  Then you better have a better game plan.  Either offer a very sweet post CAF college/university/trade school re-education deal which will make several years of demeaning stations worth while.  That, or introduce conscription where everybody does a couple years, gets "some re-education benefit or the like" and rejoins Canadian society with some life skills and discipline and we cherry pick the talent to offer them careers.

Your suggestion smells of the same good idea fairy brain storm of signing on kids for 5 years of the less than inspiring lower rank experiences of PAT Platoon, demeaning stations etc etc.  The kids are then expected to sign for another 20 years after that.  I know of kids who are saying "frig that" and are completing their contracts and running.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2018, 16:44:16 by jollyjacktar »

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2018, 16:48:01 »
The kids are then expected to sign for another 20 years after that.  I know of kids who are saying "frig that" and are completing their contracts and running.

All government jobs, and many private sector/ unionized jobs, are having the same issue.

It seems that those darned millennials just don't see much value in the 'Golden Handcuffs' (while they treat you like cr&p for 25 years) anymore.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2018, 17:02:07 »
All government jobs, and many private sector/ unionized jobs, are having the same issue.

It seems that those darned millennials just don't see much value in the 'Golden Handcuffs' (while they treat you like cr&p for 25 years) anymore.

Not like we were.

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2018, 17:11:13 »
All government jobs, and many private sector/ unionized jobs, are having the same issue.

Why is that? 35 years at a 2 per cent accrual rate gets you a 70 per cent pension with full benefits.

( 30 years with the 2.33 per cent accrual rate. )

May seem like a long haul, but "time flies when you're having fun."  :)
« Last Edit: May 24, 2018, 17:23:00 by mariomike »

Offline Mediman14

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2018, 17:39:37 »


May seem like a long haul, but "time flies when you're having fun."  :)
[/quote]

Fun? Ok.

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Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2018, 17:46:49 »
Fun? Ok.

I was replying to the highlighted part. Personal enjoyment may vary.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2018, 18:04:46 by mariomike »

jollyjacktar

  • Guest
Re: Retention vs Recruiting
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2018, 18:21:24 »
Why is that? 35 years at a 2 per cent accrual rate gets you a 70 per cent pension with full benefits.

( 30 years with the 2.33 per cent accrual rate. )

May seem like a long haul, but "time flies when you're having fun."  :)

Depending upon how old one is when they join, they may or may not be able to reach 35 years.  Regardless of what age you join, there isn't always much fun to be had at the bottom of the food chain.  And thus a part reason for kids running for the exits. 

I won't speak for the other two flavours, but there has been a downward spiral on the fun meter in the navy since l remustered in the 90's.  Increasingly the last few years the pace has quickened and l have had it described as a death by a thousand cuts. 

This also seems to be the feedback I've heard from all three groups, OR/C&PO/WR.  Of course there are those who would disagree as they still have fuel reading in the fun meter but again, I'm hearing increasing numbers of folks who's tanks are running dry.

Add in the manning changes that are being brought in to the detriment of moral in some trades and you now have a three fold increase in releases by legacy trades. 

On a lighter note, the letters being sent to my legacy trade retirees by a certain someone is causing gales of merriment at the appeal to return to the RCN and the new reality.