Veteran’s Day on November 11 is an opportunity each year to express appreciation and respect for those who have served in the military, in wartime or peacetime. For organizations, one of the best ways to honor veterans is to hire them and leverage this diverse talent pool. In the current tight labor market, organizations have much to gain by creating a focused outreach plan to attract and retain veterans.
About 200,000 people leave active military duty each year. For those veterans transitioning from military service to the civilian workforce, it can be a difficult journey, made more challenging by COVID-19. Unemployment for veterans hovers around 10% — much higher than the nation’s overall unemployment rate, according to a fall 2021 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why hire veterans? Leadership and technical skills, a strong work ethic and a deep understanding of teamwork and shared sense of responsibility are among the diverse skills and value that veterans bring to organizations. Veterans are resilient, experienced in change management and used to pivoting quickly to solve problems — qualities that are especially valuable in today’s evolving world of work.
According to research by the SHRM Foundation and USAA, 96% of HR professionals say that veterans are uniquely trained to work through chaotic times, while 82% say that the talent pool of veterans is embedded with diversity of gender, race, and age; and 63% say that veterans are more resilient remote/virtual workers compared to civilians.
Further, veterans have worked with cutting-edge technology, are comfortable in cross-functional environments and many bring international experience to the workplace.
Here are 6 ways that organizations can benefit from the talents and experience of veterans:
1. Create specific programs to recruit, hire and retain military veterans and ensure that veterans are included in the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategy and initiatives.
2. Take time to understand and learn about the service experiences of veterans. Consider ways to translate the skills and expertise they acquired in the military to the organization’s goals and priorities. For example, explore how different departments can benefit from veterans’ skills in logistics, operations, security and team dynamics.
3. Implement career development programs that offer veterans opportunities to experience a wide range of functions within the organization and ensure they have a long-term career and growth plan that capitalizes on their diverse skills.
4. Establish a mentorship program that includes senior leadership champions and employee resource groups (ERGs) to support veterans. Mentoring programs provide a safe environment for open, honest conversations about the concerns, issues and challenges facing veterans and what they need to successfully navigate the new work world.
5. Raise awareness of barriers to hiring veterans, including unconscious bias in the hiring process. Training staff on unconscious bias helps raise awareness of stereotypes about people and their backgrounds that can hinder efforts to create diverse teams that drive innovation and growth.
6. Ensure that the needs of veteran employees are reflected in workplace policies, processes, employment practices, health and wellbeing initiatives, training and learning and development programs.
Effective teamwork, leadership and technical skills and resiliency are among the strengths that veterans bring to the private sector. Creating a supportive, inclusive work environment for veterans to succeed is a great way to honor their service and help ensure a smoother transition into the civilian workforce.
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