Best Practices for Including Veterans in the Workplace
Hiring veterans may seem like an attractive proposition for many employers. After all, those with military experience typically have a strong work ethic, good problem-solving skills, and respect for authority. In addition, employers can receive the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for including some classes of veterans in the workplace.
However, when it comes to the logistics of recruiting, onboarding, and keeping veterans on staff, many employers may face challenges. Having a well-rounded plan can make a veteran-focused hiring program more successful.
Even with a solid plan, employers should be aware of potential challenges of including more veterans in the workplace. By taking the following steps, you can maximize the success of your veteran hiring program and avoid some of the common challenges faced by employers when hiring veterans.
If you are not a veteran, understanding and meeting these individuals’ unique needs can be especially challenging. Fortunately, there are many resources available to educate employers on military culture, the unique needs of veterans, and ways to help them adjust to a civilian workplace. Before launching an initiative for veterans in the workplace, it's a good idea to learn more about these important topics. Having a better understanding about veteran culture can help you build an effective program that appropriately meets their needs.
Redesign Your Training Program
Some veterans may be active members of a reserve unit and need certain weekends off, while others may need restricted hours. Veterans who have never held a non-military position before may be accustomed to a strict, regimented training style and may need more time to adjust to a less structured environment.
To meet the unique needs of veterans in the workplace, you may need to adjust your onboarding and training program to help make veterans feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. Setting your employees up for success from the beginning is a critical part of any veteran hiring initiative.
Actively Search for Veterans and Military Spouses
One of the challenges facing employers is knowing where to find and recruit veteran talent. While there are military-sponsored job fairs specifically targeted at helping military members transition to the civilian workforce, these can often be cost-prohibitive, especially for small businesses on a budget. You may want to consider taking advantage of online resources, job boards, and hiring fairs that can be both useful and cost-effective.
Secure a Veterans' Advocate
Once your newly hired employees are on board, you should provide ongoing support to help them deal with the challenges of transitioning into a new role. Veterans in the workplace who don't feel supported may be more likely to leave. You can face this challenge head-on by enlisting the help of an advocate who is well-versed in veterans' needs. This could be an individual on your HR staff, an outside volunteer, or an organized group of supportive co-workers who all share the same concerns.
Keep Resources on Hand
Veteran employees may have different ongoing needs. They may have questions about veteran benefits, need support if they’re trying to cope with a challenging life event, or have trouble adjusting to civilian life. While you don't need to be an expert in all the resources available to assist veterans, it's helpful to begin building a resource library that you can refer veteran employees to when needed.