Safety and Counseling
Directorate of Assessments and Prevention
U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center
Fort Rucker, Alabama
The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center’s Army Readiness Assessment Program (ARAP) Division recently disseminated a survey to gain information on the frequency of counseling for Soldiers by leaders on topics related to on- and off-duty safety. Survey questions asked respondents if they thought they could report safety violations during counseling without fear of reprisal, whether periodic counseling gave Soldiers opportunities for effective dialogue with leadership, and what made counseling sessions more effective or ineffective.
A total of 12,367 surveys were completed by all ranks, including junior enlisted (31%), junior noncommissioned officers (NCOs) (34%), senior NCOs (18%), junior officers (9%), senior officers (5%), junior warrant officers (2%) and senior warrant officers (2%). Surveys were received from 23 major U.S. Army commands, with the highest contributors being FORSCOM (25%), USARC (21%), TRADOC (12%), USARNG (12%), USASOC (7%) and MEDCOM (6%).
Favorable results showed that 8,122 (65.7%) respondents said they were often counseled on topics related to on-duty safety. Responses on 10,155 (82.1%) surveys indicated that Soldiers strongly agreed or agreed they were counseled on reporting safety violations without fear of reprisal. A lower percentage, 68.8% (8,514 respondents), said they were often counseled on topics related to off-duty safety.
A total of 9,782 (79.1%) respondents strongly agreed or agreed that counseling afforded them an opportunity to have an effective verbal dialogue with their leadership, while unfavorable results showed that 34% of respondents said they seldom or never received counseling related to on-duty topics. Additionally, 31% said they seldom or never received off-duty topic counseling. A total of 18% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that counseling included reporting safety violations without fear of reprisal. Finally, 21% of responses indicated effective dialogue did not occur with leaders during periodic counseling.
Respondents were also able to write in comments related to what made counseling sessions more or less efficient. The most common reasons for more effective counseling sessions were constructive criticism that led to goal-setting and personal development, individualized open communication without interruptions, and written follow-ups. Respondents perceived counseling sessions to be ineffective when they were completed just because they were required, at low frequency, impersonal, repetitive, and without follow up. Many comments stated that counseling was ineffective simply because it was not conducted enough.
In conclusion, leaders had dialogues often with Soldiers regarding on- and off-duty safety. During these meetings, individuals revealed that they know safety violations can be reported without fear of reprisal; and Soldiers view periodic counseling as an opportunity to have an effective dialogue with their leadership.
ARAP offers a glimpse into an organization's safety climate and culture, affording leadership honest feedback from personnel assigned to the command. The program compiles the perceptions of the organizational climate with an emphasis on safety concerns. Participation in ARAP is mandatory for commanders and directors at the battalion and directorate level within the first 90 days of taking command. It is highly recommended that a second survey is administered at their mid-tour milestone. Leaders also have the option to survey their Soldiers annually. Visit ARAP at https://arap.safety.army.mil.