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Posted: May 12th, 2023

Enhancing the Total Reward System for U.S. Military Service Members

References
Coppola, E.C., McCall, E.C., Bailey, B.A., & Mihalec-Adkins, B.P. (2020). Understanding the Challenges and Meeting the Needs of Military and Veteran Families. NCFR Policy Brief.
Department of Defense. (2018). Militia Compensation Background Papers. Loc.gov. Retrieved 8 December 2020, from https://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/pdf-files/Military_Comp-2018.pdf.

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Title: Enhancing the Total Reward System for U.S. Military Service Members

Introduction
The United States military is responsible for safeguarding national security and defending the nation from attacks. The capabilities and equilibrium of the military’s personnel have been adjusting by the Department of Defense (DoD) in order to counter major potential risks and threats. Despite these efforts, challenges such as budget cuts, technological advancements, and strategic land power have made it difficult to maintain a technological and operational edge. To better equip and incentivize service members, this essay proposes recommendations for enhancing the Total Reward System (TRS) for the U.S. military.

Summary and Description
The U.S. military’s summative goal is to protect the country and win wars. This is achieved through five overarching strategic goals, each with specific objectives. However, budget cuts have led to substantial structure cuts, making it challenging to invest in future capabilities while maintaining a technological and operational edge. The military’s TRS can provide incentives for personnel to execute their roles with diligence and determination and seek advancement.

The TRS can be categorized into two types of rewards: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic rewards include the nature of the job, recognition, and advancement opportunities, while extrinsic rewards are tangible benefits such as pay and allowances. Currently, the military’s TRS includes a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Intrinsic rewards are essential to job satisfaction, but extrinsic rewards can significantly affect retention rates and performance.

The most recommended approach to enhancing the military’s TRS is reevaluating the terms of Enlisted Continuation Bonus (ECI) and increasing cash compensation. ECI is a retention incentive designed to encourage service members to remain in the military. However, the terms of ECI can be revised to incentivize high-performing service members better. Increasing cash compensation through basic pay, allowances, and related monetary benefits can also help attract and retain top talent. By doing so, the military can improve performance measures, enhance service capabilities and quality delivery.

The military’s TRS is critical to incentivize and retain high-performing service members. The proposed recommendations for enhancing the TRS include reevaluating ECI and increasing cash compensation. These recommendations can significantly impact retention rates and performance, leading to improved service capabilities and quality delivery by the U.S. military. By improving the TRS, the military can ensure that service members receive the rewards they deserve for their commitment and dedication to national security.

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