Current and future case for Reserve Remuneration / Air Force Initiatives

Presented by Group Captain Joanna Elkington on behalf of Air Commodore Robert Rodgers AM, CSM, Director General Reserves – Air Force

Transcript from Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal G. Davies - video clip, June 2019

Air Force capability is generated by our airmen and airwomen. We are a small but potent Air Force of professional, intelligent, motivated and operationally focused people. The ability to attract and retain the right people is fundamental to the sustainment of Air Force’s future. The Total Workforce System introduces versatile service arrangements that can improve access to the right people, in the right numbers, at the right time. A core component of the total workforce system is the service spectrum of casual, part-time and permanent service categories and options. To remain competitive we should shift our mindset. We might be able to use our total workforce in an economic, adaptable and flexible way.

I am asking all Air Force commanders, supervisors and managers to adjust the way you think about your workforce. Stop thinking about your workforce requirements in terms of the number of positions or people needed. Instead, start analysing and identifying the work outputs and effect required – consider of all of the workforce options across the spectrum of SERCAT 2 to SERCAT 7. Have you considered SERCAT 6?

The Total Workforce System provides more options and enhanced access to diverse workforce mixes. It also provides our members with greater flexibility: I hear the need for more flex everywhere I go. The Total Workforce System enables Air Force to draw on the skills and experience of its entire workforce in a more sophisticated and integrated way. I expect Air Force leaders to draw on the flexibility inherent in the Total Workforce System to ensure they play their part in delivering the capability required of Air Force, while supporting our people as they continue to serve.

Air Marshal G. Davies, CAF release
to Air Force June 2019

The Air Force, like its sister services has over its history utilised a blend of permanent and part time personnel to create the capability it is renowned for. However, over time, how we have integrated the human capacity of our organisation has varied from being very structured (Citizens Air Force flying squadrons) to some very localised and loose arrangements through the seventies and eighties. Now as we reposition to be more dynamic and agile as an organisation our attention has again turned to a far more structured model for integrating our permanent, part time, and casual work force. It is unsurprising that we are moving away from the nomenclature of ‘reserve’ towards the use of Service Categories , or ‘SERCATs’. We now understand that the Air Force workforce holistically comprises different people with differentiated patterns of work and conditions of service, but still focused on delivering the same end state. For Air Force, in the past this capability delivery was fundamentally localised and tactical in its demand and supply modes. However, now we are starting to develop a model whereby the capability requirement is described as a labour demand which can then be mapped and modelled using different combinations of Service Category delivery. Director General Personnel–Air Force has now established a team to develop the model, tools and simulations necessary to design an organisation that purposefully and dynamically uses the full range of employment modes to create airpower capability, cognisant of capability and budget risk. This work is well developed and starting to shape Air Force workforce strategy from now to 2040.

What the Total Workforce System (TWS) means
Fundamentally this represents the development and introduction of a Total Workforce based HR system that places primacy on the work effect and has agility in ascribing labour to tasks based on the nature, frequency and duration of work. To do this means the purposeful use of all work force elements SERCAT 2-7, to generate capability effects. Applying the best labour fit to the nature of work as an ongoing or transitional design to create a specified end state.

Air Force is SERCAT 3-7, all contributing to airpower with a shared sense of commitment and differentiated by their patterns of service and their conditions. SERCAT 2 personnel are potential and that potential must be recognised and managed purposively also as we can approach and draw on them for active service. Speaking of SERCAT 2, of course mobilisation is important also, and our capacity is often questioned at the DRA. Mobilisation for Air Force will be a two stage consideration; Firstly, leveraging the capacity to increase current attendance rates in active personnel (SERCAT 3-6) and then looking at augmentation from SERCAT 2.

Integrating Reserve Function
Air Force is already moving to integrate what were historic Reserve functions into the broader Personnel system. In this way all facets of the Air Force HR system will consider and employ SERCAT 3-7 in output solutions and planning.

As in the introduction, the previous CAF has released a call to action for Air Force, and Personnel Branch have now developed a model, method and tools to reassess total workforce demand and subsequently allow variability in how that demand is supplied. For example, with effect this year SERCAT 3-5 placements will be done concurrently or prior to SERCAT 7 placements to allow a better understanding of localised capability and a more structured prioritisation of the use of all Service categories.

We are finding challenges. HR Information Systems interaction and also the need for increased automation of data management and potential AI like decision support is becoming rapidly necessary to manage such a system. This is unsurprising and will require focus and resources.

As part of the development of a true Total Workforce System (TWS) we are having to look at all facets of organisational behaviour that shape individual behaviour to ensure they are aligned to create the effects we seek. Much of the former Reserve policy and conditions was premised on pre-existing work models and modes, which are not relevant to how the workforce is now utilised and sustained. Therefore we will be looking at what interventions will be needed to create workforce assurance in the future as social and strategic contexts change.

Renumeration and Conditions of Service
I note we were asked to comment on Remuneration and Conditions of Service, but suffice to say that the basis on which those aspects of part time and casual service were struck may not be valid now and more so an area of risk in the future if we seek to attract a younger demographic into our part time and casual workforce capabilities. Similarly, the majority of our organisational policy has been designed and delivered against SERCAT 7 assumptions of the workforce and its contribution. Therefore the first phase of this task has commenced, with a summary of the remuneration principles prior to 1981, and further work to continue on post 1984, as a starting point for understanding the context in which the enduring principles were determined. This is necessary to enable future discussion and assessment for any potential consideration of any changes to SERCAT 3-5 remuneration or conditions of service. Following on from this we will no doubt find many opportunities to re-evaluate the broad application of policy to all types of work force to support and create the behaviours that we seek. For example, to use lateral employment modes for specialist skills we are bound to create rank based aberrations to create remunerative effects for defined and short term engagements. Air Force is considering looking at new approaches to manage Specialist Capability Appointments for fixed periods in the future that will require Australian Defence Organisation support and possible Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal engagement.

Culture is also a key facet of building the new model of capability. The casual and part time workforce is now integral to day to day capability provision in almost every unit in the Air Force. To be honest, not so much by design but by practice, and our intention is to formalise that design through the TWS being developed right now by a team in Personnel Branch. Similarly, it is becoming increasingly obvious that to manage an integrated workforce in an effective and dynamic way will require much greater levels of empowerment closer to the delivery of the capability or labour effect sought. Decision rights will be key conversations as the TWS develops and rolls out. This means that commanders will become more and more empowered and accountable for their localised labour management and utilisation. We recognise that one of our main challenges is likely to be associated with the cultural changes required of our existing leaders and supervisors to support TWS.

We acknowledge that the introduction of this system and its maturity will take time, as a workforce, regardless of its Service category, takes time to recruit, develop and shape. Therefore our focus now is on known risk elements in the workforce across the Service categories and commencing the smoothing of capability delivery by purposively mixing the SERCATs used to deliver a capability, until it reaches the designed end state. We will also support and engage commanders, supervisors and managers as they implement the change. This end state may also include purposively integrated casual and part time elements as a long term core component of capability delivery. Sheer attendance does not a capability make! Work can be cyclic, in waves, scheduled or pervasive. The Air Force workforce must be assignable and dynamic to meet those needs.

Note - Service Category (SERCAT) 7 is permanent employee, SERCAT 6 is a permanent employee working on a part time basis, SERCAT 5 is a part time employee, SERCAT 4 is a part time employee on high readiness for exercise or operational deployment, SERCAT 3 is a casual employee (annualised) and SERCAT 2 is an ex-serving member no longer active but still on standby for mobilisation.

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