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Retention: People are our best assets

Command Chief, Charles W. Aliff

Command Chief, Charles W. Aliff

September 2008 -- Our commander, Col. Mark Bartman, has challenged all of us to meet the Adjutant General's goal of increasing our personnel end strength to 110 percent of the authorized number of personnel at the 180th Fighter Wing. Although we are currently at more than 107 percent strength, it will take everyone's involvement to both accomplish and sustain this important goal. 

Recruiting and retention are two prominent factors in determining end strength. Many resources have been devoted to recruitment such as signing bonuses, 100 percent paid state college tuition and programs like the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program where Airmen may receive up to $2,000 for each new member recruited into the ANG. While we are recruiting at unprecedented levels, we continue to lose highly trained first and second-term Airmen. 

Not surprisingly, our retention rate exceeds 90 percent. This is a very good rate, but it can be better. And we must improve our retention rate if we ever expect to achieve our goal of 110 percent staffing. We have a great organization comprised of excellent people, equipment and facilities, and we have an important mission. 

So how do we increase an already high retention rate? We do this simply by utilizing the many existing programs that have proven to work in retaining high quality personnel. 

In reviewing exit surveys of those first and second term Airmen
that have separated from the unit, I've come to realize what is important to many Airmen when it comes time to reenlist. Most airmen desire promotional opportunities, meaningful work in their primary career field, education and training, recognition and feedback. 

An effective Unit Career Advisor program can inform Airmen of the many outstanding benefits and career opportunities that are available in the ANG. Sometimes just knowing what is available in terms of benefits or promotional opportunities can make a difference in deciding to reenlist. 

A comprehensive and well managed annual training plan can provide Airmen with valuable and interesting training. This can lead to completion of upgrade skill level training and professional military education deemed so very important to career advancement and mission accomplishment. 

A sound force management plan shared with all Airmen within the organization can provide personnel with knowledge of future opportunities, realistic goal setting and preparation for advancement to leadership positions. 

Recognition and annual performance feedback can make a real difference in Airmen satisfaction in the work center. Highly motivated airmen desire to be recognized for outstanding accomplishment or sacrifice. Meaningful and objective feedback can inform an Airman of strengths and/or areas where improvement can be made. Most servicemembers want to do a good job and most will if their efforts are recognized. 

Finally, proper utilization of Airmen in the chosen career field is very important. Airmen want to do the job that they enlisted in the military for and not have their time
wasted doing menial tasks that have nothing to do with their career field. 

Retention of high quality Airmen is the surest way of meeting our commander's goals and mission accomplishment today, tomorrow and well into the future.

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