Loyal, dependable, responsible, hardworking, motivated--these are just some of the intrinsic qualities in the veteran population, so it’s not surprising that U.S. businesses have ranked them as a top three recruiting target. Because of veterans’ admirable characteristics and their impressive military backgrounds, we may think that they have it easy when it comes to job searching. The reality is veterans need support to overcome the drastic transition from serving their country to working in a corporate environment. According to the Chamber of Commerce, 44 percent of veterans left their post-military job within a year—which is largely attributed to finding the civilian workplace difficult to grasp or feeling that their skills were underutilized or unappreciated.
Here are three ways to retain veterans in the workplace:
From their first day of boot camp, veterans are molded by the military. They’re told how to dress, how to answer their superiors and what responsibilities they have. To suddenly be given free reign in an unfamiliar and unforgiving environment can be confusing and paralyzing. Veterans thrive when they understand the mission of the company and their part in helping to achieve that mission. So it’s not surprising that most of the companies on Military Times’ list of Best for Vets: Employers 2017 excel in veteran onboarding by offering resources that identify their skill set and connect them with relevant training for specific roles. Providing veterans with an orientation on general processes, like financial wellness workshops detailing the job benefits, plays a large role in helping returning veterans transition into the workplace as well as feel embraced and supported by their community and employer.
2. Pathway to promotion
Rank, hierarchy, and a visible ladder to success are engraved components of the military. To keep veterans (and non-veterans) engaged, companies should outline how they can advance and achieve career mobility within the company. Since military members are accustomed to receiving awards and recognition for their achievements, company leaders should acknowledge them for a job well done and regularly offer feedback on their performance.
The military has its own a language, style and expected manner of self-conduct. So when entering the civilian workplace, Veterans experience a sort of culture shock, not fully understanding the etiquette and norms. Given the drastic differences between military and civilian life, some veterans have a hard time connecting with their civilian peers. To foster a welcoming atmosphere, companies should recognize and celebrate veterans. Another way to bridge the cultural gap returning veterans face is having mentoring programs that help thread inclusivity into a company's fabric.
Veterans have skills and qualities that bring great value to companies; they just need help transitioning those skills so they can be of service in the unpredictable civilian workplace. By embracing an inclusive workplace environment, companies can ensure that they are optimizing the skills and expertise of their veteran employees while offering them job satisfaction and growth.