Practical retention ideas

Despite having better things to do on my birthday, I've created a wiki page for retention ideas here:

It is designed to complement the recruiting toolbox and provide a practical list of retention ideas. The idea of this wiki page is to go beyond the obvious (provide interesting and exciting training) and includes the wishlist (Forces Railcard etc). Please add your best retention ideas.

Stick your username in bracket at the beginning, so you can bask in the glory of your brilliant ideas.

Now in the immortal words of Delia Smith "Let's be 'aving you".

P.S. If you can't work out how to edit a wiki page then perhaps you will face difficulties retaining the yoof of today...
Good wiki, I have just been tasked by the CO to identify best practise for unit retention. Bearing in mind one size does not fit all. Any other ideas greatfully recieved.

Please add your thoughts to the wiki page.



War Hero
Book Reviewer
Be firm and fair.

The main reason for disillusionment is unrealistic expectations; I have had to give the bad news to many people who think they are the best since sliced bread. The trick is to tell them what to do and make sure they do it.

The other is that certain trades are not 9-5 in barracks overtime or to be PC extended hours is a fact of life. This fact and should not be glossed over if you are sltright with your staff and tell them how it is. You may be surprised at the results.

It’s a simple stratagem and it works I have had only one soldier sign off in the last 5 years.

Edited due to larger


War Hero
Book Reviewer
polar69 said:
Is this for TA retention or retention in general ?
Many apologies I miss read the forum.

These are my wise words for regular troops; I feel that the Firm and fair stands for all aspects of forces life.

However, I have limited experience with the TA and would not wish to comment on TA mismanagement/retention.

Sorry all.
The clue is in the fact that this is a TA subforum... but they are still wise words.

Red_Dragon said:
Good wiki, I have just been tasked by the CO to identify best practise for unit retention. Bearing in mind one size does not fit all. Any other ideas greatfully recieved.

What have you identified and what have you added to the wiki?

msr said:
(msr) Ensure all DEPOs administered by the regt are invited to all Offr Mess functions.
I have to say that I disagree with this one (and I am a DEPO). Do you not think it's a good idea, if you believe this to be a 'perk' of sorts for the DEPOs, to make them wait until they pass TAMB; give them something to aim for?
I concur that with the DEPO's there should be some kind of carrot action going on (plenty of stick during Mod 2, 3 and 4). I think that all DEPO's should really get better aqauinted with the JRC etc until such a time of getting their white stripe of certain doom (tm). At this point I think it would be fair to invite them to various mess do's and start their innitiation into the Officers' mess. Interestingly the WO and Sgts Mess could also have fun playing with the rupet to be, they certainly get abused in mess' at the bde level.

Alternatively just do what the damn heck you like, your mess, your rules (collective).
Dear All,

If we eliminate external factors (e.g. unhappy employer or spouse) about which we or the individual can do little or nothing and concentrate on internal factors (over which we should have some control), then I believe the two key factors are esprit de corps and interesting training.

The first helps the second. Groucho Marx said "I wouldn't join a club that would have me as a member". Each Unit and sub-unit should strive to maintain a cachet about being a member of it. Every unit has a proud history, so it should be taught, preferably by someone with a bit of imagination and personal interest in the subject to bring it alive. e.g. a Heavy Cavalry horse weighed something between 1 and 2 x 3/4 ton landrovers. Imagine that coming at you at 25 miles an hour etc.

It is also important IMHO to bring to the fore the creditable jobs done by people on recent Ops. A presentation by the senior person who was present, informing young soldiers and recruits, and praising soldiers for perhaps mundane jobs will build this quickly.

Training (esp. exercises) is normally planned at a high level so it is difficult for lower ranks to influence it. However Drill Night Training is relatively easy to affect.

What about the following:

From polling up to completion of RT3 (med, 2x TAFS and old RT1) - Drill at the halt (at the end of the evening for 15 minutes), Intro to weapons you might use (SA80, LSW, Pistol, GPMG, UGL, 51mm etc, nothing too weird), just a quick gallop through basic stuff and how they could be used and why with a "hold this" bit, fitness (after Med), Basha building, The Ration Pack and making a brew, Intor to Unit History. Every lesson can be interupted for the crucial admin, but everything is new and interesting to the new recruit.

Completion of RT 3 to completion of RT 7 (6 for Corps) - Drill as a squad (for 15 minutes every now and then), fitness, pacing (got to be done sometime) and allied to Map Reading basics (now a MATT), Weapon Handling, WHT's. Pairs F&M (got to be a bit of grass somewhere in the TAC), Orienteering (That MATT again and Phys), Hand Signals, Basic Patrolling, Admin.

Note: Most lessons can become BL's. Sit in a classroom or get out in the TAC, moving about?

Completion of RT7 or waiting for Corps equivalent - Posted to Pl/Tp. Bond them early, give them an early reason not to jack it, and a chance to listen to people "bigging it up" about some Ex or other. The recruit has been in the system for maybe 5 months now and could do with a bit of encouragement to see it through. Also the trained soldiers should be acting as role models (hopefully good). The training is aimed at phys, expertise with wpns, the core job/role and preparation for forthcoming exercises. This bit does not translate so well between teeth arms and Corps.


A varied training programme involving ALL troops getting out of the TAC at least once a month (a run, dvr trg, BL/BE etc) shows a desire to make trg more interesting. After that the JNCO's should run it and enjoy the chance to "do their thing", or get called in for bluffing.

The above is not "right" but is one possible answer. Attendance is now well over double (just short of triple) six months ago. The above has not been possible from day 1 due to a number of factors, but is in now. Whilst not fully proven, it does seem to work (so far). Admin issues have caused some problems with the above.


Unless the hierarchy at Unit and Sub-unit level are seriously onside, it is difficult for others to make a serious difference. However, the Drill Nights are one area where a gung ho JNCO can make a serious difference. It is not about waiting for the training programme to come out, rather knowing your soldiers. If they all need MATT "whatever" IOT qualify for bounty, work out how it could be helped on a Drill Night (e.g. WHT's before a range W/E, a bit of phys before a CFT etc). Put the thoughts in then if they aren't taken up, plot a bit more. "So and so can't make it, so having no time to plan anything else (and here are the RASP's etc) we are going to do ..."

This is not reinventing the wheel, but Units/Sub-units are different. The most valuable commodity is a senior soldier. They are gold dust.

Heard an excellent idea the other day:

Recruit Trg wing of 6 in a sub-unit: Capt, 2Lt,SSgt (double hatted), Sgt (double hatted), 2xCpl (1 female)

Recruit walks in on his/her first night and is told which days / weekends they will be doing for the next 12 months.

If they can't make the commitment, they are shown the door. If they can then they are processed through the system and held in the Recruit Trg Wing until they are operationally useful - ie the first 2 trade weekends after CMSR.

This avoids the loss of people (which I am lead to believe is significant) post CMSR.

Some good ideas on the recruiting front here. But I have one query. Isn't this thread about retention?

When I think of retention, recruits are not the first people to spring to mind. I think more about soldiers who've been in for a few years ( or a few more than that like myself).

I'm sure those who've been in a bit longer occasionally get to the point where they wonder why they still bother to turn up. I've mentioned it before in another thread that this is due to the lack of progression.

The recruiting teams do a good job getting the bods through the door and getting them past the recruits' course post. But what happens then? There should be a more structured career progression. The knowledge of what exactly they need to get their first tape ( obviously not automatically ), getting their class 2 after they are trade trained. What courses they can go on? Would they like to eventually instruct on one of the MATTs? What do they need to achieve this? How on earth do they get their third stripe? etc etc etc etc.

The main problem I see is lack of a structured trade training programme and lack of information on career progression and promotion.

I will go onto the Wiki later and put some of these ideas on there in a more coherant fasion. It's early and I'm going to be late for work!!

p.s. a bit of adventure traning more than once a year would be nice

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