Hiring veterans is good business -- it's a common refrain, but it also has basis in the experiences of many companies who have welcomed veterans to their workforces. A study by the Center of New American Security conducted lengthy interviews with 87 people representing 69 companies, and the overriding sentiment was the same: veteran workers bring very real value to an organization.
The companies interviewed in the study pointed out many reasons why veterans are valuable, including the following:
Leadership and teamwork skills: Veterans typically have led colleagues, accepted direction from others and operated as part of a small team.
As one interviewee put it, "We look for people with leadership skills. If someone can lead a team of soldiers around the world, they can lead our large stores." Another interviewee noted, "Ninety-five percent of the kids coming out of college have never managed before. They may be very smart, but they have no leadership experience. To find someone that is very smart and also has real leadership experience is huge for our business."
Character: Veterans have the reputation in these companies as being trustworthy, dependable, drug-free and having a strong work ethic.
"[T]here is great value in life in experiencing strife and struggle," said one respondent. "It makes people stronger and more capable. To me that is the foundation of character. I do not have a problem trusting vets to handle the job. We have military guys that work very hard for us. They pull all-nighters, and they are very dedicated."
Structure and discipline: Companies, especially those that emphasize safety, appreciate veterans’ experience following established procedures.
For jobs and industries that adhere to strict processes and guidelines, veterans' experience is seen as an advantage, as one interviewee put it: "[Our industry] is a highly regulated industry with a lot of rules to follow. The military understand this concept very well."
Expertise: Companies value veterans’ occupational skills, job-specific experiences and understanding of the military community.
As one respondent who works with the U.S. defense community put it, "[V]eterans usually walk in the door with an active security clearance, which means they can hit the ground running and starting working right away – this is a huge advantage. Also, we often find ourselves competing with other contractors for government contracts, and we find we are more likely to get contracts if we have ex-military people."
Dynamic environment: Veterans are accustomed to performing and making decisions in dynamic and rapidly changing circumstances.
"We search out veterans," noted one interviewee. "In particular, people coming out of high-pressure jobs, high-stress jobs, where they need to make quick decisions without a lot of information. These people are a good fit for [our] corporate culture."
Effectiveness: Interviewees report that veterans “get it done.”
As one interviewee put it, "We find that there is a significant correlation between high performance and military experience." Another interviewee added, "They are also valuable hires because they are mission oriented and they understand the concept of getting the job done."
Proven success: Some organizations hire veterans largely because other veterans have already been successful in their organization. Veterans demonstrate that they share company values and fit the organizational culture.
Said one interviewee whose company has hired several veterans, "Many of our supervisors also are former military, so they know those skill sets and want to hire veterans. So we have lots of people that constantly remind people of the value that veterans bring."
Resiliency: Veterans are accustomed to working in difficult environments, and to traveling and relocating.
This value is particularly useful for companies who set a tough pace at work. One respondent noted, "[We work] irregular hours and in all types of weather. Most civilians have a difficult time working under these conditions, but military personnel are used to all of these factors."
Loyalty: Veterans are committed to the organizations they work for, which can translate into longer tenure.
Some interviewees spoke of veterans’ loyalty to their employers, and a small number of the companies have data indicating that veterans have longer tenures. One interviewee said, "I recently completed a study on the turnover rates at [my company] and based on the analysis, the attrition rate was 7 percent lower for vets than civilian employees."
Public relations value: Some companies have found marketing benefits to hiring veterans.
To sum up, it makes good business sense to hire veterans. The skills and experiences that they bring to the organization, as well as their character and capabilities, underscore their merit as employees. Companies that purposefully hire veterans proclaim the benefit gained from employing individuals who exhibit the same loyalty and strong performance in the civilian workplace that they did while serving the country. Hiring veterans serves those who serve the nation. It is also plain good business.