Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Defence Force brass trumpet levelling off of slide in troop morale

Early this year Vice-Chief of the Defence Force, Rear Admiral Jack Steer, said morale levels had slipped to their lowest levels since surveys began eight years ago. Photo / APN
Early this year Vice-Chief of the Defence Force, Rear Admiral Jack Steer, said morale levels had slipped to their lowest levels since surveys began eight years ago. Photo / APN

Defence Force morale remains at historic lows but top brass are hailing the fact it hasn't declined any further from the depths it plumbed early this year after hundreds of redundancies were made to cut costs.

The Defence Force yesterday released the results of its internal survey of personnel attitudes which showed six of the seven key "state of mind" measures remained unchanged from the previous quarter.

Those measures included morale, for which 23 per cent of personnel said their own morale was poor and 32 per cent rated their workplace morale as less than satisfactory.

Early this year Vice-Chief of the Defence Force, Rear Admiral Jack Steer, said morale levels had slipped to their lowest levels since surveys began eight years ago.

That came after a period when the force sent out 300 redundancy letters and staff were suffering "change fatigue" as a result of "civilianisation" of the force intended to save $355 million by 2014/15.

Yesterday, Admiral Steer said the force had embarked "on one of the most ambitious reform programmes in the public sector, and this has affected our people deeply".

"Defence Force senior leaders have been consistent in their goal to improve key indicators like morale. We've seen in the past quarter that we have arrested the decline experienced in recent times."

Admiral Steer said the stabilisation in morale was significant because it came before recent pay increases.

"It provides a platform to work from, but we have never kidded ourselves that ... things would change overnight."

Last week the Defence Force announced 13,500 personnel would receive pay rises of up to 5.7 per cent - but the increase would be offset by a rise in military housing rents.

- NZ Herald

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