The Armed Forces Pay Review Body, in its report published today, says that morale generally appears to have fallen compared with previous years. The move from a campaign footing has actually increased issues like uncertainty, with some personnel still held at high readiness and so unable to take leave, or had it cancelled at short notice. Personnel felt that the "offer" had continued to decline, with many feeling "demotivated and not valued by their senior leadership or Government." One of the most powerful messages the AFPRB heard on visits was that personnel were losing trust in their employer.
The AFPRB was told that "morale was particularly low in the Army". The Service Family Federations, in increasingly being prepared to speak on behalf of single personnel as well as those in families, once again proved the need for a more active and better supported Armed Forces Federation.
This is from the AFPRB report:
"2.13. On our visits we found that levels of morale varied between establishments and cadres. Generally morale appeared to have fallen compared with previous years and many personnel seemed more dissatisfied with Service life. They continued to feel worn down by the constant high tempo, change and uncertainty. The move from a campaign footing had actually increased this, with personnel unsure of where and when they would next be deployed. Some personnel told us that they were held at high readiness, and so were unable to take leave or had it cancelled at short notice. Understandably, this impacted negatively on their work-life balance and family life, often restricting the opportunity for spouses/partners to work and pursue their own careers. Examples were provided of gapped posts placing extra pressure on those covering as there was no reduction in the required output. There were questions over why senior leaders in the Armed Forces were apparently unable to refuse extra tasks, even when their people were already under significant pressure. We also found that many Commanding Officers were frustrated that they were unable to prioritise or authorise relatively small works locally that could solve irritating problems and potentially increase morale. We were later told that work was underway to allow Commanding Officers to do this. Additionally, in some instances suitably qualified personnel may be able to carry out such work, rather than it having to be undertaken by a contractor. We welcome this move and look forward to seeing evidence of it on our visits.
"2.14. Rebasing, forthcoming changes to the accommodation offer, the overall package under NEM, and the recent pension changes had led to more cynicism from personnel who viewed them as cost saving measures. Generally, personnel felt that the value of the overall offer had continued to decline, with a significant negative cumulative impact from cuts and changes to allowances along with continuing pay restraint while there were increases to charges and the cost of living. These issues led to many personnel feeling demotivated and not valued by their senior leadership or Government. Fundamental to morale is trust. One of the most powerful messages we heard on visits was that personnel were losing trust in their employer.
"2.15. The SFFs [Service Family Federations] told us that morale varied depending on where individuals were based and what they were doing. Those on the front line generally had higher morale than those back at base carrying out supporting roles. The serving person’s morale was also usually much higher than that of their families. We were told that morale was particularly low in the Army and that long periods of repeated separation had taken their toll on family relationships in many instances. Spouses, partners and families had to compromise and make sacrifices to enable the Service person to follow their career aspirations. However, it was felt these sacrifices were no longer compensated for sufficiently by the financial and other rewards they received. Expectations in wider society have changed over the last 20 years, but it was not felt that the military package reflected these societal changes. Generally, there was concern that low morale and the other factors impacting negatively on family life will cause increasing numbers of Service personnel to consider leaving, particularly those with transferable skill."