The objective of the audit was to examine the effectiveness of Navy’s strategy for recruiting and retaining personnel with specialist skills. The effective delivery of Navy capability depends on Navy having available sufficient numbers of skilled personnel to operate and maintain its fleet of sea vessels and aircraft, and conduct wide‑ranging operations in dispersed locations. Without the right personnel, Navy capability is reduced. Navy’s budget for 2014–15 included $1.86 billion in employee expenses.
The audit concluded that, in its strategic planning, Navy had identified its key workforce risks and their implications for Navy capability. To address these risks Navy had continued to adhere to its traditional ‘raise, train and sustain’ workforce strategy; developed a broad range of workforce initiatives that complemented its core approach; and sought to establish contemporary workforce management practices. However, long‑standing personnel shortfalls in a number of ‘critical’ employment categories had persisted, and Navy had largely relied on retention bonuses as a short‑ to medium‑term retention strategy.
Navy had developed a broad range of workforce initiatives, some designed specifically to address workforce shortages in its critical employment categories. To date, Navy had primarily relied on paying retention bonuses and other financial incentives; recruiting personnel with prior military experience to work in employment categories with significant workforce shortfalls; and using Navy Reserves in continuous full time roles. Ongoing work was required for Navy to firmly establish a range of promising workforce management practices, including providing the right training at the right time; more flexible approaches to managing individuals’ careers; and improving workplace culture, leadership and relationships. More flexible and tailored workforce management practices could help address the underlying causes of workforce shortfalls, particularly when the traditional approaches were not gaining sufficient traction.
The ANAO made two recommendations aimed at Navy: drawing on external human resource expertise to inform the development and implementation of its revised workforce plan; and evaluating the impact of retention bonuses on the Navy workforce to determine their future role within its overall workforce strategy.