Surface Warfare Officer Retention: analysis of individual ready reserve survey data

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Stoker, Carol
Crawford, Alice
Date of Issue
Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate School
This study is the second in a series funded by the Chief of Naval Personnel to address low retention of officers in the Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) community. Low junior officer retention is a concern, particularly with respect to SWO women--whose numbers have steadily declined since the repeal of the Combat Exclusion Act in 1994. Studies conducted in this area have found that family-related factors, as well as leadership and culture factors (including morale and lack of mentoring), push both men and women out of the Navy. Nonetheless, the Navy's primary effort to improve retention has been to introduce the Surface Warfare Officer Continuation Pay (SWOCP) in 1994 and, subsequently, to offer a Critical Skills Retention Bonus. Retention bonuses have not offset the non-monetary concerns, particularly for women. The present study focuses on the non-monetary factors that have received little attention in the past with respect to changes that could be made to improve retention. The findings apply to both men and women. Unlike previous studies that have assessed intentions of SWOs to stay or leave, the current study is based on a survey of officers who have actually made the decision to leave active duty and who are now in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). The data show that family-related factors are the highest-rated influences on the decision to leave active duty; this holds true for both men and women and older vs. younger year groups. Women felt more strongly than men about the influence some of these factors had on the decision to leave active duty, but the similarity between the opinions expressed by men and women was surprising. Further, monetary incentives have less influence on retention than family or leadership factors. Total military pay was more important to men than to women, but still placed lower on the list than many other factors that caused men to leave active duty. Other findings are reported that concern mentoring, gender issues, feelings about the separation decision, and incentives that could encourage this group to consider returning to active duty. More women than men would consider returning, and improvements in leadership were mentioned most often by all groups as a change that needs to be made to improve retention. Finally, recommendations are made for training interventions and research to address leadership issues.
Technical Report
Series/Report No
Graduate School of Business & Public Policy (GSBPP)
NPS Report Number
viii, 75 p.: ill.;28 cm.
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This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.