Lately there has been a lot of concern in articles and blogs about how many new employees are coming into companies lacking the loyalty, dedication and work ethic employers have come to expect from a generation earlier. True, times are changing. But there is an employee base returning to the workforce that comes with many of these values intact – our military veteran.
In this time of economic turmoil when jobs are scarce and so many of our vets are returning from overseas conflicts, utilizing your armed services workforce can help an employer see cost savings in recruitment and training of good employees. What makes a veteran such a sought after employee? This is what many military employers are finding:
- Individuals who live the military lifestyle have a background of commitment: to themselves, to each other and to an employer who treats them well. This commitment and loyalty fosters their need to go above and beyond when asked to complete a project. They are prompt and used to reporting for work on time and know the importance of a professional appearance and presence. Military employees know how to take responsibility for projects, tasks and personal actions. They are trained to see things through to their conclusion. They are trained not to leave their post until the job is done. How refreshing it would be to have employees who will stick with you as an employer?
- The military lifestyle is different, and it instills values that are vital to a thriving business. These include resiliency, respect, patience, trust and honesty, all of which translate into skills that are a valuable commodity to the personal nature of your business.
- Veterans arrive with the skills, personality and understanding to do a good job but often don’t know exactly where to put those skills to work. Caring companies, like yours, can help them refine and apply those skills.
- Military personnel have served in an environment where leadership skills, such as being highly motivated and displaying an attitude of dedication to an employer, are mandatory. They come to you with these skills already embedded into the way they conduct business.
- Veterans are medically and physically fit and ready for work which translates into less sick days. They have already been screened for drugs and were drug free while in the service. Members of the military are trained to remain calm in the face of initial stressors and to analyze and evaluate a situation before reacting. This leads to levelheaded thinking when faced with a stressful work environment.
- Many veterans appreciate the opportunity to work outside of the 9:00 – 5:00 typical workday. If yours is a company that can offer employment opportunities outside of standard full time employment, you might meet the needs of the veteran who is still reintegrating back into their life after deployment. Sometimes they just need part time, evening or contract work. At JL Transport, a company run by an Air Force veteran, a job might require that a lost bag from the airlines be delivered to someone at 3:00 in the morning!
Incentives for hiring
Branches of the government are continually setting up programs that offer financial incentives to hiring employers along with money the employee can “bring with them” especially for a wounded or disabled veteran. Veteran employees may qualify for job training grants and special employer incentives under these programs. To find incentives for your business, do a specific search at NationalResourceDirectory.gov or VA.gov.
When you employ a Guard/Reserve workforce, it puts you in a unique position. You are eligible to sign a Statement of Support that sends a message to your employees that they don’t need to be concerned about their civilian job while serving. You may be nominated for award programs given by the ESGE (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) designed to recognize employers for their military employee practices. They range from the “Patriot Award” Certificate of Appreciation to the prestigious Freedom Awards given by the Secretary of Defense for up to five of the nation’s most supportive employers during ceremonies held at the Pentagon. The media exposure and company recognition for these awards can work for your bottom line. You can market your company as one who has received this award and/or signed a Statement of Support
If you are a civilian employer with a large Guard/Reserve employee component, up to 20% of them could possibly be called out at any one time. That puts a huge burden on a company with a limited workforce. It takes strong company commitment and organization to be able to cover the projects and work that needs to be completed, while holding on to the deployed individual’s job until they return. That can be a lot to juggle! But the sacrifice just might be worth making.
Most employers who make a commitment to hire veterans and those in the Guard and Reserve are creative in the ways they extend support. These employers will offer pay supplements that meet the difference between military and civilian pay, set up programs in house that send care packages to their deployed workers and organize collections for phone cards or gifts for families to recognize special events the serviceperson will be missing.
For example, a Colorado police department had one of its officers deploy four times! That certainly created a hardship for the department, but it didn’t stop them from showing support. The serviceperson’s wife was having trouble making the mortgage payments, so they took up a collection to fill the gap until he returned. They set up a schedule where a different employee would send a care package every two weeks. When he returned, he was welcomed back with a luncheon and was able to tell everyone how much that support meant to him and his family. This is an employer who has gone above and beyond.
These companies, and many others, are sharing the advantages of putting our military veterans back to work! Why not join them.
Elaine Dumler is an author, speaker, consultant and "separations expert" who helps military families transition through all phases of deployment. Her books, “I'm Already Home. Again,” and “The Road Home,” provide resources and connection strategies for deployment and reintegration. She is committed to helping veterans get back to work through www.DeploymentToEmployment.com. For more information call (303) 430-0592 or visit www.ImAlreadyHome.com.