What’s More Important than Hiring Veterans? Retaining Them.

Recruiting Tips
Thursday, Nov 03, 2016
What’s More Important than Hiring Veterans? Retaining Them.

Talent acquisition is big business. U.S. corporations spend $130 billion dollars on recruitment in order to fill their open positions with the right people. According to Bersin by Deloitte, U.S. companies spend an average of $4,000 to fill an open position, so the need to find the right hire is paramount.

Over the past several years, many businesses have been steadfast in their initiatives to hire military veterans and with good cause. Most feel it’s their patriotic duty to honor those who’ve served their country with gainful employment. Others see a deep pool of talent that possess a high level of specialized training or wish to benefit from veteran-related tax credits for their business. Whatever the case may be, hiring veterans makes good business and there is no shortage of veterans available to work. Approximately 200,000 U.S. service members depart the military each year. In a 2015 report published by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, approximately one out of two (53 percent) separating post-9/11 veterans faced a period of unemployment within 15 months of separating from the military. Organizations such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks have vowed to hire 250,000 veterans by 2020 and 10,000 veterans by 2018 respectively.     

So, what can be more important than hiring veterans and the initiatives that these organizations set forth to help them secure veteran employment? Retention. If hiring a veteran is your mission – ensuring you have the right tools and programs in place to retain them should be your strategy. Make no mistake, there is no need to hire veterans if you can’t offer an environment for them to excel and flourish.

Nearly one-half of active duty members in the military are under the age of 25 and carry a high school education. Typical terms of commitment are four years. If a service member joins the military shortly after high school graduation, they are thrusted into an environment of teamwork coupled with a strong sense of mission or purpose. Once they separate from the military and transition into a civilian job, they once again have to quickly adapt to an entirely new experience. This transition from a military culture to a corporate culture can be complicated for some. Especially if a veteran did not experience a career prior to their military life. Or, skills they learned in the military aren’t transferrable to their civilian job. Frustration can also occur if there is uncertainty of one’s purpose, unclear paths to advancement or growth as well as the lack of camaraderie.

In order to retain a veteran-employee within your ranks, it’s important to understand these challenges and establish clear initiatives to bridge any disconnects between veteran and employer. Where do you begin? In order for a sustainable program to take shape, a good starting point is to start at the top. Commitment and engagement from leadership will help provide the organizational resources to create a robust program. Doing so can promote the vision across the board. By having executive buy-in, open dialogue between hiring managers and veterans can occur for a collaborative approach to goals and objectives. Although the size of the organization would dictate the level and type of programs an organization can implement, here are three recommended initiatives to consider:  

1. Mentorship Program: Veterans strive to make a difference. Not just for themselves, but for others. Strong leadership is what comes natural for many veterans. Acting as a mentor allows veterans to share their knowledge and expertise, help others explore their potential and builds camaraderie within the organization. Additionally, having mentors accessible to veterans can help them properly adjust and assimilate into the civilian workforce. Organizations such as Veterati offer innovative platforms for transitioning veterans to act as mentors and mentees. Having a robust mentorship program in place will help make your open positions more attractive to potential veteran job candidates, and will help employers retain the talented veteran employees they already have.

2. Professional Development: Training and career development is important to show a veteran well-defined paths to success or a roadmap for corporate advancement in an organization. By doubling down on your veteran-employee and enhancing their professional development will demonstrate your commitment to them. Training programs also give them the opportunity to enhance skills they may be lacking or wish to improve upon.

3. Veteran Networking Groups: Implementing affinity groups where veterans can talk, collaborate and offer peer support and guidance to like-minded people is an effective way to create a culture conducive to veterans. This gives them the opportunity to reform bonds they once had in the military with cohorts that shared similar experiences and provides an outlet where they can discuss issues with different veterans throughout the organization.   

What does an employer get in return by ensuring they retain their veteran-employee? An invaluable workforce that offers strong leadership qualities, unbridled work ethic and a passion to get the job done. Veterans have boots on the ground experience with advanced team-building skills, skilled in diversity and exhibit strong commitment to the organization. Retain them by leveraging these unique skillsets that they bring to the table and creating an environment where they feel empowered to employ what they have to offer. Best of all, you’ll be doing your nation a great service.