Supporting Veterans in the Workplace
Business Case for Developing a Veteran Friendly Culture
Determining the motivation for a veteran-friendly organization is a vital first step to building a work environment that is conducive to building a strong military-oriented culture. The decision to create a supportive work environment for veterans is a just as much, if not more so, a benefit to the business as it is to the veterans themselves. Military veterans bring a wide variety of skills and perspectives that are essential for the success of any organization. These attributes include, but are not limited to:
- Leadership and teamwork
- Independent thinking
- Problem-solving and decision-making.
- Honesty and attention to detail.
- Global perspectives.1
One of the many organizations that is dedicated to assisting United States veterans in their transition from the military to the civilian world is the American Corporate Partners (ACP). Some of the most recognizable corporations in the world partner with the ACP to accomplish this mission. These organizations include: UPS, PepsiCo., The Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson and Intel. Moreover, while not an ACP partner, Amazon is vocal in its efforts to actively seek military veterans, as Amazon strongly believes in their capacity to be leaders who can “invent, think big, have a bias for action, and deliver results on behalf of their customers”.
Benefits of a Diverse Workforce
In 2019, it is no secret that a diverse workforce is essential to the success of an organization. In 2017, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) completed a study where employees at more than 1,700 companies in eight countries (the United States being one of them) across a variety of industries and company sizes were surveyed regarding their perceptions of diversity at the management level. Based on the findings of the survey, Companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19% higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity.3
The United States military is compiled of individuals of different races, ethnicities, gender and socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition to the vast cultural diversity in its ranks, the act of serving their country provides every service man and woman with an additional set of experiences and perspectives, which can prove invaluable to employers.
Developing and Implementing a Military Friendly Culture
While the benefits of building an organizational culture that fosters a supportive work environment for veterans are clear, it is easy to feel lost when getting started. Here are a few strategies that could be helpful when working to build a military-friendly culture. 2
Recruit with Military Veterans in Mind:
There are countless resources available for identifying high-quality veteran candidates. Some of these include:
- Working with the DoD sponsored organization called the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) connects military-friendly organizations with service men and women in the National Guard
- Harnessing the power of LinkedIn and dozens of LinkedIn groups offers the ability to interact with veterans seeking employment opportunities
- Partnering with local colleges and universities helps employers to identify veteran students that are looking to join the civilian workforce upon graduation
- Utilizing job boards such as gijobs.com, military.com and militaryhire.com are a few of the many job boards that target veteran candidates.
In addition to these options, a thorough understanding of the jobs (otherwise known as Military Occupational Codes – MOCs) that the military has available to service men and women is essential to understanding the experience that veterans have gained while serving. There are over 7,000 MOCs! About 80% of the jobs in the military are non-combat occupations and many of these jobs correlate very closely to civilian jobs in fields such as IT, healthcare, business & operations, and many others.
Promote Military Friendly Internal Communication:
Internal communication can be a huge factor in building any organization’s culture. In relation to building a veteran-focused organization, corporate communication that highlights topics of importance to the military will relay the message that the company places value on the military community. This content can include a spotlight on military holidays, a Q&A with internal veteran employees and/or simply acknowledging the military community in an organization. The bottom line here is to be creative and have fun!
Identify a Corporate Organizational Structure and Career Path:
Military veterans are accustomed to working within an organization with a strong vertical structure where there is a strict hierarchy of command. As a result, a clear and easily accessible organizational chart can assist in making a veteran feel more comfortable with the direction of the company.
Similarly, the military provides its service men and women with a clear and easily understood career path. Developing such a plan with a retired member of the military will result in a feeling of increased job security and lessen turnover among veteran employees.
Ask and Listen!
By hiring a military veteran, an organization is adding a highly competent and life-experienced individual. By proactively encouraging communication between veterans and Human Resources/Manangement, the organization can tap into insight that can be invaluable to its growth, improvement and success. This communication can identify cultural strengths to be celebrated, as well as areas that could use additional attention and resources.
To learn more, check out these resources:
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- VA OIG IT Strategic Support Services Award