USAG Grafenwoehr begins to 'right-size' its workforce
December 7, 2011
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Following two recent transformation and reshaping announcements last month that will reduce the Army in Europe by more than 1,000 military, local national and Army civilian positions, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr began taking actions to minimize the impact these reductions will have on its workforce and to inform affected employees of their options.
"We're currently using reduction in force (RIF) avoidance tools," said Mary Cooper, director of human resources for the garrison. According to Cooper, RIF avoidance tools include, but are not limited to, voluntary early retirement authority / voluntary separation incentive payments (VERA/VSIP) for Department of the Army civilians, and annulments for local nationals; each process has separate eligibility criteria.
VERA/VSIP is an option that increases voluntary attrition for eligible employees as it allows employees to voluntarily retire or resign to avoid potential reduction in force actions for either their own or other positions that are set to be abolished or restructured. The garrison invited qualifying employees to two separate VERA/VSIP events in Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr, Nov. 16 and 17, respectfully, to discuss each of the options. Qualifying employees were instructed that they must apply and be approved to either retire early or receive incentive payments, which average about $16-18,000 after taxes according to Cooper.
Annulments usually apply to local nationals who are near retirement, and the annulment's value is based on the number of years the employee has served. The Head Works Council, USAREUR, is expected to be officially notified regarding specifics on annulment-qualifying employees by the new year.
In both cases, the goal is to minimize the impact on the workforce as a whole and to save employees' jobs wherever possible.
In addition to VERA/VSIP and annulments, the garrison has been managing its vacancies, according to Tom Mulvihill, director of USAG Grafenwoehr's Civilian Personnel Advisory Center. Managing vacancies refers to the process of filling only those critical vacancies, such as security or fire department positions.
When employees filling noncritical positions take other jobs or are not extended in their overseas tour position, management deliberately leaves selective positions open and uses these open positions to function as "losses." In this way, the garrison is able to reduce its workforce while minimizing the impact on personnel.
For example, suppose the garrison is required to reduce 10 positions in a certain directorate. If eight personnel qualify and accept VERA/VSIP or annulments, and the garrison doesn't fill two vacancies it has kept open, the net "loss" has been achieved.
"We're using these tools to get the numbers where we need to be," Cooper said.