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TA Retention Ideas

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Microsoft Office 2007 Enterprise for £17

That's right, it's a bargain the size of a hippo's bum and you can get it from DII:

Also available: Project 2007 and Visio 2007 for £17 each.

Pay for

(msr) All course photos - Recruits, JNCO, Commissioning, JOTAC...

(msr) Regimental mugs for bosses etc (esp. after camp). Make sure they are banned from the TAC!

(msr) Engraved regimental plaque for top student/ shot/ fittest etc presented by CO and those returning from Op Tours.

(Stabtiffy2B) Their first Regimental T-shirt, to make them feel part of the team, when going on recruits course. (msr) Then on every subsequent promotion/career course to ensure they carry on feeling part of the team.

(msr) Promotional drawstring bags (for wet kit at gym/ recruits courses).

(msr) Name tapes on return from recruits course. Cost £6 per soldier.

(msr) Stable belt.

(msr) Ensure all DEPOs administered by the regt are invited to all Offr Mess functions.

(27days) TA branded thumb drives. 256Mb for the troops and 1Gb for the Sabre Supportive Employers.

(msr) Run CIEH foundation Health and Safety course (1 day) iot gain better understanding of H&S and gain a certificate.

(msr) Give soldiers a pack of mine awareness playing cards.

(StabTiffy2B) Issue all soldiers with a pocket diary (very cheap from companies (supportive employers?) or stationers). Will stop them getting moaned at for not knowing when Weekends/Guard Duties are.

(msr) Entry to local city runs e.g. Great Manchester run.


"Family, work, TA." Maximising retention means making it easier for the soldier to keep family and work on-side, and making being in the TA a more rewarding experience for the soldier.


(Fluffy Bunny) Families days out on the ranges, once every year or so. Let the wives fire a weapon, drive the kids about in Landies etc fol. by a BBQ. Cost is coach to and from trg area plus a few quid for scoff.

(Dr Evil) Set up a families' group, with a newsletter. This would be created by the unit and then self-administered by the group itself. The group could be encouraged to have socials (either at the TAC, with the unit's help) or somewhere more appealing, especially when the unit is away on exercise.

(27days) Get the wives (sorry, significant others) to setup a child care centre within bks (JRC?). They can set a rota themselves, thus freeing the "other" to have a bit of free time whilst the soldier trains. Will become self sustaining as the free time the "other" wants will be tied into the soldier attending training.


(msr) Ensure awareness of SaBRE Supportive Employer scheme. Host a SaBRE dinner at each Coy/Sqn to present supportive employer certificates.

(Dr Evil) Encourage soldiers to invite their employers (as well as their families) to medal presentations, Remembrance services and any other event which emphasises the operational history and current role of the unit: it's a highly effective way to show to the employer that the employee's absences from work have a real purpose.

(Dr Evil) Discuss with soldiers how best to refer in their CVs to skills they have acquired from the TA, in particular those which are expensive for employers to buy such as planning and organisation, leadership, etc.

(abs) Provide photographs and editorials to Employers' in-house newsletters. A bit 3rd-party waltish but make your soldier look like superman in front of his boss(es). Helps him/her with their civvy career and makes it very difficult for them to leave or else they look daft in front of those same bosses.

(Fluffy Bunny) Employers can also be invited in small groups to Range Days and the like. Let them see what Tpr Bloggs is actually up to at the weekend. Very similar to the Family Day suggested above, and can often be combined.


(msr) Give each soldier an army notebook on receipt of their army number (get these through the system)

(msr) Ensure each soldier is given a PDR on completion of recruit course to store course report and future CRs etc.

(msr) Issue forces discount books

(msr) Make soldiers aware of this offer:

(pips) Make soldiers aware of recruiting bounties (if offered)

(msr) Ensure those who have to leave the regt consider working with the cadets.

(msr) Find out which courses can be used to provide civilian qualifications (e.g. DITS -> BTEC) and ensure the blokes get the civvy certificate.

(abs) Talk to the soldiers, ask them what training they want and need. But don't knee jerk - remember the loudest voices will sound like the voice of the majority whether it is or isn't. Apply the common-sense test: if you are being asked to lay on a specific bit of training, put up a poster asking soldiers to write their names in if they intend taking part.

(Chaffinch) A very good retention/passage of information tool is the unit website. Get one set up on ArmyNet, and chuck as much information on there as possible (Admin Orders, P1Os, pre-course reading, bounty progress rolls, FTRS links, etc). Keep them up to date (doesn't take long, any self respecting PSI or PSAO can spare the time). It stops everyone phoning for kit lists on Fri afternoons (when everybody's out). You can put online returns for your training events on there (gives us electronic proof when some scrote swears on his mother's life he sent his in last week). All round superb training tool, but underused.

(Brettarider) Use of Sqn/unit minibus(s) for stuff outside TA training weekends for such things as entering sports comp/hillwalking or stuff that could be classed as benefical training for the TA.

(Brettarider) A question and answer session with unit PS/OC Snr's etc for the lads find out whats working for them and what's not things that could be improved etc. We have this at work and it actually pretty good - could be run every few months costs nothing to do either!

(Brettarider) Try and set up a local discount scheme for things such as Gyms/garages/clothing shops etc get each person in the unit to try and sign a business up to the scheme the more they bring in the more they benefit from it and your hard earned goes to the locals who support the local TA unit.

Free Courses

Modular Masters Programme (msr)

More Info

The Defence Electronic Learning Centre (cornfed)

These are the people to speak to for Language Learning courses via Rosetta Stone

Tel: 0845 330 9643

Fax: 01159 848696

Email: @

Application form:

Course list:

Course descriptions:

(27days) Put this info onto routine sub-unit orders. Or better still, get a glossy poster off delc and put it on the unit notice board. Wonder if DELC would send a salesman to a trg night ?

Short courses at Shrivenham (cornfed)

Free seminars in York (msr)

Free IT seminars run in York by SoftBox, suppliers of software to the MOD.

Outside expert (abacus)

Ask personnel from other (thriving) TACs to do a presentation at your own drill-night. Offer the same in return. This beats the "familiarity breeds contempt" issue where they've all heard it from you a hundred times before. Visitor tells them everything you've been saying for ages but somehow he/she is a guru and it works. Same deal when you do it in their Sqn/Coy/Bty.


(msr) Love 'em or lose em': Getting Good People to Stay Beverly Kaye, Sharon Jordan-Evans

(abacus) Retention TAM inserts

Outside The Box Thinking

Stuff that causes the individual to boast to his mates and work colleagues about how good the TA is. Yeah, I know he'll look like Gareth (but how big a tube would Gareth look if he said he wasn't in the TA anymore?).

e.g. Get Bde photographer to take photos of Soldier x doing exciting stuff for him/her to take away, make sure as many of the most junior soldiers as possible are named and photoed in Corps/Regt Journals. Send CD to those on Ops to make them feel still part of the unit.

(msr) Purchase telephone untanglers for people to give to their bosses - one permanent reminder of the TA on their desks 365 days per year. Cost approx £2.50 each, looks like this.

TA Branded Heart Rate monitors / pedometers

Pay 1/4 MTD per week for proven attendance at a gym

Regimental representative at all pass out parades to show Regt’l commitment to soldiers who have probably just given up half their annual leave entitlement to attend the most challenging two weeks of their life. Cost: Free.

- Ideally CO, but could be a PSAO.

- Gain info about course, preparation of our blokes and overall standards iot ensure we are giving our guys the best training for course and consistently getting top student.

- Look at taking family members down for parade.

Pay for Institute of Advanced Motorists membership.

(27days) - Organise a charity motorbike ride with, say, local hospital. The one we are doing is police run for the local charity. We will be wearing high vis vests with TA logos on (Phil Tunnicliffe 01625 519574). Great seeing the local TV station will be there.

(27days) - Get a Regt minibus and go to the Army/Navy rugby match.

The Permanent Staff

The Permanent Staff of a TA Unit can (if they put their minds to it) make a HUGE difference to retention. Consider these absolute gems from HarrySmith95th as published in ARRSE -

I've spent a bit of time with a TA regiment and thought that I'd pass on my views borne of experience. The idea is that it took me some time to figure this stuff out, and it may help stop some people from rocking up and acting a complete tool.

1. Remember the blokes are volunteers. If they do not want to turn up, they won't. The usual reasons for this include pump / no training programme, rather than just a weekend of rain.

2. They are (usually) adults. If you treat them as incompetent tw@ts, they will rapidly lose interest and act as incompetent tw@ts. Treat them as grownups: they may well be better educated than you and some of them will hold very, very responsible jobs. The Jock you are looking at might earn more than your CO. The average age of the TA squaddie is older than that of the Regs, so they have seen a bit more of life and can spot a bullshitter very quickly.

3. You are there to advise. You have the Regular service, they are (generally) willing listeners ready and keen to learn. There is a fine line between advising and taking over - it's their train set: help out when you can but do not take over - the JNCOs / SNCOs will just resent it.

4. You will get the results you deserve. Generally, unless the TM / OC is a complete tool stomping on your creative training ideas.

5. Keep the chain of command informed. They have jobs outside of the TA - they need to plan ahead. Email / text can be very, very useful within security limitations.

6. Their civilian job comes first. That's the way it is. You will not change it: accept it.

7. They may not be as fit as a Regular unit. Exceptions of course, but on the whole they do not have time for programmed phys Monday to Friday - unlike you.

8. Maintain your standards. If you swan off & getting fat and lazy they will notice. Be an example in your appearance and conduct - you are their main point of contact with the Regular Army.

9. ENSURE their course bids get submitted - and they know what courses they can do. Vital.

10. If they have a Dining Out / Dinner Night and you are not invited, that's a Combat Indicator that they don't like you. And that is your fault.

11. They will have their own traditions - respect them. Do not try to impose *your* regimental traditions on them. If Seniors call each other by their first names, that's the way it is.

12. You will be there for two years And then you will be gone. Remember that, they will.

13. Enjoy it.

14. Remember the blokes are volunteers.