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How to Support Veterans in the Workplace | Getting Hired
Ways Employers Can Support Veterans in the Workplace
As of 2020, military veterans accounted for only 5.6% of the civilian workforce. This disparity can create a wall between non-military employees and veterans. To close that gap and better support veterans, employers can be more accountable for their inclusion efforts. Here are some ways to create a more veteran-friendly workplace.
Bridge The Gap Between Civilian and Veteran Employees
Educating non-military employees so they are more knowledgeable is crucial to creating a more empathetic workforce. It is a considerable gap to close though. Separating from the military and transitioning into civilian life is an adjustment for veterans that many individuals may not understand.
There are countless factors of military life civilians should take into consideration to be more informed and empathetic. It can be hard to keep track of the military jargon and intricacies for a civilian. This lack of understanding can make veteran employees feel alienated from their
non-military coworkers. A first step and key part of understanding veterans is active listening.
Recognize The Value Veterans Offer
Veterans bring a lot of worth from the experiences and skills they inherited from their military service. Recognizing and amplifying their value can encourage a better working team.
- Veterans are team-oriented people. The military is extremely team-oriented. Individuals work closely together towards a common Those who thrive are the members that are reliable and communicative. Veterans make great leaders, and this is a skill that can be transferred to other areas of life. Some civilians may not have the opportunity to develop this skill in a traditional work environment.
- They bring diverse perspectives. There are countless branches of services and specialties within those Some veterans have been deployed or operated with international teams. Every veteran has an individual experience that can bring new solutions to issues.
- Their problem-solving skills are strong. Not only can veterans bring diverse perspectives to help solve problems, but they are great critical thinkers. Working together under high-stress, fast-paced environments develops quick and efficient decision-making. This skill can be extremely useful in the workplace.
- Integrity and quality work are their Just because they’re taught to make quick decisions, veterans don’t sacrifice quality. For instance, some veterans have high-level security clearances.
The military expects all of its members to meet high standards in every aspect of their work. At the end of the day, they want to do what is right and do it exceptionally well.
Provide Veterans with Professional Development Opportunities
Most employees want a company that will invest in their professional growth and encourages their development. As for veterans, it's important to recognize their strengths and build on them.
Many veterans transition into the civilian workforce with the skills mentioned previously as well as other specific skill sets. However, the skills learned in the military can be difficult to transfer to civilian life, leaving veterans at a disadvantage.
To remedy this, offer comprehensive and ongoing training opportunities for all employees. Thorough training is an effective way to make sure team members are on the same page while preventing veteran employees from being singled out.
Companies that prioritize individual growth might see more fulfilled employees, which can mean better retention. Take the delivery company Gopuff for example. In 2021, 71% of employees reported that they felt their current company provided them meaningful opportunities for career advancement. Additionally, employees were more satisfied since they were frequently challenged by their position and given professional growth opportunities.
Establishing a mentorship program or encouraging informal mentorships is another way to provide guidance and learning opportunities to veterans. This gives them a colleague to reach out to. It’s also an educational opportunity for both the mentor and mentee.
Find the Gaps in Veteran Initiatives
Listening to your employees is essential to understanding where gaps in your company are.
Especially for finding the gaps that smaller, specific groups of employees struggle with—i.e. the veteran community.
Make it a priority to check in with team members to see how they’re doing personally and professionally. Distribute anonymous surveys to collect feedback on company culture and performance. Chances are, you'll find connections in the concerns and attitudes of your employees.
Many companies have found gaps in their veteran hiring efforts and have been making it a priority to close those gaps. One of these companies is the chemical manufacturing company ,Dow. Their veteran employee resource group, VETNET, provides personal and professional guidance to veterans during their transition into the civilian workforce.
In 2020, Dow also launched their Military Degree Equivalency program. This program levels the field for veterans and their civilian counterparts. It does this by equating their relevant experience to a college degree.
Equip Veterans with Resources
Listening to what your employees want is the first step in supporting their well-being. Providing resources for them is the next step.
Take note that supplying the following resources to employees does not guarantee they will use them. Some employees, and more so veterans, may be hesitant to reach out for help.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, roughly 1.7 million veterans have been diagnosed with a mental health need. Almost half of those veterans don't utilize any mental health services.
There are a few things employers can do to create a safe space for their veteran employees.
- Mental Health Resources. Destigmatizing mental health in the workplace is a step in the right direction for promoting better employee health. Providing mental health days or resources such as an Employee Assistance Program is essential for employee wellness. They at least give employees the option to use them if they chose to rather than being provided nothing at all.
- Disability Resources. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.9 million veterans had a service-connected disability as of August from an employer's outlook, it’s crucial to provide resources to veterans with disabilities. Regardless of whether or not their disability is related to their military service, they deserve equal support.
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Employee resource groups aren’t established by organizations. Instead, they are voluntary, employee-led groups that aim to promote a more diverse and inclusive workplace. On an employee level, they can create more visibility for marginalized employees and create connections for those feeling isolated.
ERGs can help identify important issues and significant gaps for executive leadership and coworkers who are not part of the ERGs.
Additionally, allow your employees to take mental health days and create flexible schedules if it’s possible to do so. This will save them the stress of figuring out when they can make time for themselves outside of work hours.
Having veterans on your team is crucial for diversifying your employee population and becoming more inclusive to employees with different backgrounds. At Getting Hired, we’re dedicated to helping our veteran community connect with inclusive employers.