When you hire an employee, you want that individual to feel welcomed, informed, excited, and optimistic about their future in your company. When hiring a military veteran, employers often feel a sense of duty to ensure that individual’s career is meaningful, given what they’ve done in the past – and their service and sacrifices for our Nation.
I’ve coached, mentored, and trained thousands of transitioning active duty service members and military veterans as I help them successfully reintegrate into civilian careers. Overwhelmingly, there are common themes in what they look for in their next job, how they feel about the transition, and what it takes to they feel valued in the companies they’ll join, including:
- Give them the tools. When someone joins the military, they have to be trained on the culture, systems, strategies and tactics they will rely on and deploy to successfully complete a mission. They are given extensive training and the resources to ensure they can effectively defend and protect those alongside them and themselves as they do their work. So often when we transition military veterans into fast-moving businesses, we forget to offer the tools and teaching to ensure their success here, too. It is sometimes not enough to “assume” that a veteran will learn just by working alongside someone more experienced. In some cases, additional schooling or specific training on abilities and systems is needed. The cost of training a workforce that is predisposed to learning new skills and behaviors is a worthwhile investment! In turn, your veteran employee will feel empowered to do their job to the fullest, confident they have what they need to meet or exceed your expectations.
- Include their family. When someone commits to serve their country, they don’t do it alone. Their spouse, children and extended family take that journey with them. When they return from active duty – whether they served four or forty-four years – the family is still an important part of their career. Employers who include the military spouse and children in company events, important decisions, and recognition celebrations show the veteran employee that they recognize the significant role those people play in their lives. Including the veteran’s family makes them feel valued by their employer.
- Let them think. Regardless of whether your veteran employee served in the infantry, intelligence community or as a videographer, they are trained to think – creatively and analytically. Your veteran employee is a natural problem solver. During their time in uniform, they were accustomed to solving problems – theirs and someone else’s. Obstacles are to be overcome and missions are to be accomplished. Encouraging your veteran employee to innovate, ideate, brainstorm and give their opinion shows that you recognize the completeness of their employment with you. The veteran employee will feel that you value them, and their ideas.
Hiring veterans is not where the commitment from employers ends. It’s critical to grow and develop the unique and valuable talent that our Nation’s heroes bring to the civilian workforce – today and in the future.