Cover: Recruiting Strategies to Support the Army's All-Volunteer Force

Recruiting Strategies to Support the Army's All-Volunteer Force

Published Mar 31, 2016

by Bruce R. Orvis, Steven Garber, Philip Hall-Partyka, Christopher E. Maerzluft, Tiffany Berglund

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Research Questions

  1. What are the potential effects of alternative recruiting resource and enlistment eligibility policies on recruit production and costs?
  2. How do the effects and costs vary under different recruiting conditions?
  3. How does total cost and the most effective mix of recruiting resources and enlistment eligibility policies vary when an optimal mix of television advertising and incentives is feasible versus when an incentive-centric strategy is required, and how does this change under alternative recruiting conditions?
  4. How can the Army use recruiting resources and enlistment eligibility policies most effectively and efficiently meet accession requirements under varying recruiting conditions?

This report describes research conducted to improve the Army's ability to use recruiting resources and enlistment eligibility policies effectively to meet enlisted accession requirements under good, average, and bad recruiting conditions. We consider the cost of meeting accession requirements when an optimal mix of television advertising and enlistment incentives is feasible (the baseline strategy) or when an incentive-centric strategy — which favors incentives over other resources due to incentives' faster rate of increasing recruits — is required.

The results for the alternative scenarios assessed — which increase the number of recruiters, enlistment eligibility, or Entry Delayed Entry Program (EDEP) level from their levels in our baseline strategy — indicate that, under good recruiting conditions, optimizing the mix of television advertising and enlistment bonuses minimized total cost, whereas increasing the number of recruiters, enlistment eligibility, or youth recruited during the preceding year (larger EDEP) from their baseline levels raised cost. For average recruiting conditions, increasing recruiters reduced total cost. Under bad recruiting conditions, increasing recruiters or enlistment eligibility each lowered total cost by similar amounts.

An incentive-centric strategy raises total cost relative to optimizing the mix of advertising and bonuses. Given an incentive-centric strategy, under good recruiting conditions, a higher number of recruiters, increased enlistment eligibility, or a larger EDEP each reduced total cost and did so by increasing amounts, respectively. Under average conditions, more recruiters, a larger EDEP, or greater enlistment eligibility each reduced total cost, by increasing amounts, respectively. Under bad conditions, only increasing enlistment eligibility was preferable to the incentive-centric baseline strategy.

Key Findings

When There Is Sufficient Time to Optimize the Levels and Mix of Television Advertising and Incentives:

  • The results for the scenarios assessed imply that, under good recruiting conditions, optimizing the mix of television advertising and enlistment incentives would minimize total cost, whereas increasing recruiters, enlistment eligibility, or the Entry DEP from the baseline levels assessed would not.
  • Under average recruiting conditions, increasing recruiters would reduce total cost.
  • Under bad recruiting conditions, increasing recruiters or enlistment eligibility would each lower total cost comparably.

Total Costs Increase Substantially When There Is Not Sufficient Time to Optimize the Levels and Mix of Television Advertising and Incentives:

  • When an incentive-centric strategy is needed to reduce the lead time for increasing enlistments from increased recruiting resources, it reduces the ability to optimize the levels and mix of TV advertising and incentives.
  • In our incentive-centric scenarios, under good recruiting conditions more recruiters, greater enlistment eligibility, or a larger EDEP would each reduce the total cost, and the three alternative policy options would reduce the total cost by increasing amounts, respectively.
  • Under average recruiting conditions, more recruiters would reduce total cost. Alternatively, increasing the EDEP would be more cost effective than increased recruiters, while increasing enlistment eligibility would be the most effective tool.
  • Under bad recruiting conditions, increasing enlistment eligibility is the only alternative assessed that would be preferable to the baseline strategy.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Marketing and was conducted within the Personnel, Training, and Health Program, part of the RAND Arroyo Center.

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