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Home manager - Building your staff's experience base: release a Free Ranger

Why should I temporarily release my staff?

  • Releasing a staff member to go on a temporary placement broadens your workforce capability in the long run, providing an enhanced talent pool in a cost effective way.
  • A Free Ranger will return to your agency with enhanced skills and experience, and a fresh perspective on how things are done (or could be done) in your workplace.
  • It can represent a significant development opportunity for the member involved.
  • Releasing a Free Ranger may also help you to expand networking and professional relationship building opportunities.
  • Temporary release minimises risk, because you are not permanently losing a staff member.
  • Mobility initiatives are often tailored to meet the needs of participating agencies and their employees.
  • The objectives of the home and host agencies and the participating employee are clearly documented.
  • We will be researching and analysing the pros and cons of each placement so that we can improve the way in which these initiatives are undertaken in future.

What do I need to do?

There are a few simple steps to follow.

1. Encourage staff registration and discuss opportunities

As a manager, from time to time you may be approached by a staff member seeking your support to become a Free Ranger, and endorsement for release. It could be that they have:

  • registered to be a Free Ranger
  • applied for a temporary vacancy (or are thinking about applying), or
  • started (or are already) actively pursuing other mobility opportunities.

2. Make a decision whether to endorse temporary release

Temporarily releasing your staff member can reap significant rewards for all.

Endorsed employees should naturally be a good ambassador for your agency. They should be highly motivated and engaged and have the key attributes of a modern public servant. These key attributes include being:

  • innovative
  • collaborative
  • curious
  • resilient
  • insightful, and
  • determined.

Naturally, you will need to ensure their workload continues to be met while they are on a temporary placement. This would happen anyway if they were sick or on leave!

If you aren't able to approve them being released, you should consider alternative development options.

These are temporary placements via a secondment or temporary transfer. Unless you agree otherwise, your staff member should return to your agency.

3. Clearly communicate your decision

Ensure you clearly communicate whatever decision you make.

Ideally, you have frequent communication with your staff about performance and career development. This conversation forms part of that ongoing dialogue.

4. Stay in touch

While you will complete either an MOU (for a secondment) or a Section 26 transfer instrument (for a temporary transfer), you should remain in contact with your staff member throughout the placement.

You may consider putting in place some coaching or mentoring for your staff member while they are on placement.

If any problems or issues arise during the placement, it's up to all three parties involved in the agreement—you, your staff member and their host manager—to work through and resolve them.

You may wish to include a termination or cancellation clause in the written agreement.

Approval of the placement is at your discretion. If your staff member's host manager wishes to extend the placement, this is also at your discretion, but should be discussed with your staff member.

If you move on before they return, you should ensure your staff member and their host manager know, and ensure that whoever takes on your role is aware of the placement and the arrangements for their staff member's return.

5. Reap the rewards on their return

Make sure you discuss with your staff member all the skills and experience they've gained while away. They're career goals and needs may have changed.

To maximise the benefit to your home agency, and support your staff member to fully realise the benefits of their development opportunity, you should carefully consider how best to ensure can apply their new skills and experience when they return.

6. Tell us all about it – after all, this is a research project!

It is expected that you will complete the survey for home managers once your staff member completes their placement, whether they return to you or not. Getting your thoughts is fundamentally important to inform our research.

We may reach out to you to have a more detailed conversation, if you're keen. Let us know your details on the survey and we'll contact you.

At any point in time, feel free to email us at freerange [at] apsc.gov.au to ask questions, or discuss issues.

We also have a closed LinkedIn group which you can join to hear the latest and be kept up to date.

Last reviewed: 
15 May 2018