Memorial Day is a welcomed holiday for many employees. It’s also a time each year to commemorate military veterans and honor their commitment to our country. For organizations across industries, hiring more veterans is one of the best ways to show support for service members and their families.
Creating specific programs to recruit, hire and retain military veterans expands diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and brings valuable leadership, technical skills and knowledge to the workforce. With their unique experiences and perspectives, veterans understand how to successfully work in teams, deal with stressful situations and solve problems under ever-changing conditions — skills that are particularly relevant to workplaces in the COVID-19 era.
Each year, about 200,000 people leave active military duty and return to civilian life, with many entering the civilian workforce. For some, the transition is a challenging experience, especially so during the pandemic. For organizations that want to be part of the solution, here are 5 ways to create a work environment for veterans to succeed:
- Take time to understand and learn about the service experiences of veterans. Consider ways to adapt 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.
- Implement career development programs that offer veterans opportunities to experience a wide range of functions within the organization.
- Establish mentorship programs that include senior leadership champions and employee resource groups (ERGs) to support veterans. These programs provide a safe environment for open, honest conversations about the concerns, issues and challenges facing veterans, and what’s needed to help them successfully navigate the new work world.
- Provide unconscious bias training for all employees and managers, including those involved in the hiring process. As part of an overall DEI strategy, training staff on unconscious bias, microaggressions and cultural competency helps the organization address and prevent stereotypes about service members that can hinder their success and undermine teamwork and innovation.
- Ensure that policies, processes, employment practices and training and development programs are relevant to veteran candidates and employees.
As the Memorial Day holiday approaches, it’s an opportunity to show appreciation for military veterans and their families. One of the most effective ways to thank veterans is to make them feel welcomed and a valuable part of your workforce. Expanding veteran hiring and retention efforts strengthens diversity and inclusion and brings critical skills, abilities and experiences to the workplace, helping employees thrive and organizations succeed.
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