No matter the discipline, skill or specialty, all employers look for a handful of ideal traits in new hires: loyalty and passion, the ability to think quickly and adapt in fast-paced environments, and the ability to work collaboratively with teams.
These are characteristics of our nation’s veterans; yet, veterans’ unemployment statistics are only slightly ahead of the national unemployment rate of 7.6%. According to the latest statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 Veterans has declined slightly in recent months to 7.2%.
Despite a strong work ethic and advanced skills and training, it is widely understood that veterans face an uphill battle when reentering the American workforce. Informed employers anticipate these challenges and help smooth the transition from military culture to the workplace. As veterans shift from a highly-structured, hierarchical organization where routine, chain of command and discipline is vital to success, a more relaxed civilian culture can be disorienting and confusing.
Here are five things employers can do to make the transition more successful:
Provide leadership/managerial training around ways to leverage veterans’ specific skillsets and knowledge to the benefit of the team/company.
Proactively identify specific ways veterans’ culture and skillsets can be integrated into existing company culture, and create opportunities for contribution and inclusion from leadership.
Create a Veterans Affairs POC within the company that can provide access to different veteran agencies in the area.
Create veterans affinity groups across offices and regions to open dialogue and share experiences.
Provide a “buddy” system with informed co-workers for organizational transition mentoring and support.
Hiring veterans can, and should be, a priority for employers. Many top firms are already leading the charge. Amazon, for example, boasts 25% of its workforce as veterans. Additionally, AT&T recently launched two unique programs aimed at helping servicemen and women use their skills in the workforce. Not only does hiring veterans offer a win-win on the business side, in the form of tax breaks and employer incentives, it sends a clear positive message that their sacrifice is not forgotten.
The companies who embrace and assist veterans returning to civilian life will increasingly find themselves on the side of positive public perception for doing the right thing. And, more importantly, employers can make Veterans’ Day sentiments a day-to-day reality for our returning service men and women.
By: Ryan Honick, Fellow, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Washington D.C.
This blog post first appeared on Hill+Knowlton Strategies