7 Best Practices for Growing a Veteran Hiring Program
Whether you are just beginning a veteran hiring program or looking to take your program to the next level, a clearly-planned on-boarding and retention program for veteran employees will ensure smoother integration into your company, reduce attrition, and enable you to report greater successes!
Nationally, even companies that run successful sourcing and hiring programs targeting veteran employees still experience turnover and attrition. Research from VetAdvisor and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University shows roughly two-thirds of veterans are likely to leave their first post-military job within two years because of low job satisfaction and limited opportunities for advancement. Others leave because of a new job opportunity. Getting veterans into the company is not the only challenge facing civilian employers — they need to keep the veterans as well.
Companies that not only successfully recruit and hire veterans but also grow these employees into company leaders follow these best practices:
Set Clear Expectations
Your civilian hires appreciate a roadmap at the outset of their employment. For your veteran hires, it is paramount. In their previous career, the veteran did not have to compete for new jobs and advancement and may not understand what is expected of them to perform to your standards. Clearly articulate what success should look like for them in your company. Help them understand the chain of command, rules and protocol, and what it takes to advance their career in your firm.
Integrating someone with a military career into a predominantly civilian workplace requires training for the supervisor and employee's team. This can be as simple as informal meetings to brainstorm and discuss challenges and successes.
Set Clear Goals
It might sound obvious, but in order to know if your program is working, you have to set goals and measure results against those goals. Perhaps your company wants to hire three veterans in the next year. Your strategy would include resources needed, benchmarks to achieve, and return on the investment when those three hires are performing on the job. Refrain from setting goals that are too ambitious at the outset. Realistic goals which can be met or exceeded show senior management that your veteran hiring program is sustainable and scalable.
Enlist an Executive Sponsor
A champion for the program who sits on the executive team at your company will be able to advocate for programs, training, and funds to support the necessary costs you'll need to make your veteran hiring program sustainable. This sponsor may or may not be a veteran – it is not required that they have prior military experience, just a genuine and strong passion for helping veterans succeed at the company.
Involve Your Veterans
If you employ one or thirty veterans, these are your best assets in growing your veteran-hiring initiative. They have successfully made the transition from the military to your company and hopefully will advocate for your brand and business. Featuring them in your marketing, outreach, and online content shows your commitment to not just hiring veterans but growing them into leaders in your organization.
Form a Veteran Resource Group
A veteran-specific affinity group is helpful for new veteran employees who will appreciate joining a group of people who have a similar background to their own. Successful veteran resource groups provide regular in-person meetings, online forums for discussion and problem solving, mentoring programs matching civilian leaders with veterans, and discounts to local events and businesses for military families.
In companies that have built robust veteran affinity groups, employees claim reduced stress, increased morale, and a greater appreciation for their employer.
Engage All of Your Employees
A veteran hiring program should include more than just veterans and managers; engaging all employees in the company can help everyone feel attached to something bigger than their job. Employees who work for companies with veteran-hiring initiatives will be proud of their employer, feel honored to work alongside someone who served their country, and will learn to appreciate the experience, talents, skills, and values veterans bring to the job. As your employees learn about military values and work culture, their feelings about their jobs (and employer) positively increase.
Hiring Veterans Makes Good Business Sense
Hiring our nation's heroes into businesses makes sense – from a business, social, and cultural standpoint. But hiring veterans is not enough. Smart companies recognize that specialized training, modified on-boarding systems, and retention strategies for this unique employee pays dividends, today and in the future.