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Quality of Life a Core Business Issue

By Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

SEATTLE, Feb. 28, 2000, Feb. 28, 2000 – Quality of life may have been considered a ‘soft’ issue by DoD leadership in the past, but the times they are a changin’.

Keynote speaker Bruce Tulgan delivered this message to a group of military quality-of-life specialists assembled here for the first DoD Quality of Life Symposium Feb. 23- 25. Tulgan is a private consultant who specializes in issues dealing with managing “Generation X,” individuals born between 1963 and 1977.

In the past quality-of-life services were “a nice thing to offer,” Tulgan said, but now they’re a “core business issue” critical to the success of a business -- or of a military.

“Every cutting-edge employer in every industry is focusing more and more resources on quality of life-service delivery,” he said. “This is particularly important in very large, geographically diverse organizations.”

Quality-of-life issues are critical now because a record low unemployment rate has put tremendous pressure on employers, including the military, to recruit and retain quality employees, he said.

“You’re competing with the business world for talent every day,” Tulgan continued. “Corporations are spending more time and money on recruiting than they ever have. And when they get people, they’re spending more time and money on training their workers than they ever have.”

But, Tulgan said, recruiting isn’t the only issue at stake; perhaps more critical is retention. People will leave if they don’t feel appreciated. “You’ve just spent a tremendous amount of time, effort and money to train people only to see them leave before their term is up and go work for the company across the street,” he said.

The military needs to put a higher priority on quality-of- life issues than civilian corporations because the stakes are so much higher for the military.

“If you’re in the business world and you’re not getting enough work done, you don’t make enough money,” he said. “But if you’re in the military and can’t get the work done every day, we all have a problem. The whole world has a problem.”

In light of this, the military has been placing more emphasis than ever on quality-of-life programs. Recent pay raises and pay-table and retirement reforms this year were a start, and DoD isn’t stopping there. Senior leaders have pledged to improve military housing and address concerns about TRICARE.

“It’s important that we better serve those who serve,” Army Maj. Gen. Roger Brautigan, deputy commanding general and chief of staff of Fort Lewis, Wash., said. “We know all about the recruiting and retention problems. We know (operations tempo) is high. That’s placed a lot of stress on all of us.”

Brautigan said more than 40,000 troops are on deployments worldwide on any given day. “In recognition of this and of their dedication to selfless service, the Department of Defense has placed quality of life at the very top of their priority list,” he said.

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