As we start to recover from the pandemic years and the Great Resignation, the current unemployment rate is lower than it has been in five decades. The competition is tough among employers for loyal, highly skilled workers, and companies are increasingly looking for new avenues to find the staff they need. Hiring veterans is one way to expand the talent pool, and these strategies will help not only to recruit but to retain qualified people.
Hiring veterans needs to be approached slightly differently from regular recruitment processes. For one thing, many veterans have no previous corporate experience, so on paper, they may not look like the best candidate for the job. It’s important to interview carefully to determine whether your applicant holds similar values and ethics is aimed at personal development, innovation, and teamwork. It’s not always easy to identify these traits during an interview, but it’s a crucial step toward finding and retaining employees who will fit into your culture.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but many companies—especially smaller businesses without formal human resources divisions—onboard new employees and expect them to fly. When you’re hiring veterans, it’s just as important as with non-military personnel to ensure they have supportive leadership to help them grow and succeed. Veterans want to be recognized for their skills and abilities, which means providing a fair wage and benefits. When employees feel secure, they are able to focus on their performance. This improves productivity and profitability, so it’s a win-win situation.
Once you’ve employed your workers, responsibility for retaining them shifts to their immediate supervisor. It’s a common HR theory that employees don’t leave jobs or companies—they quit bad managers. A study from McKinsey shows having high performers on staff enables companies to increase profitability by at least 40%, so after hiring veterans with the right skills and attitude the next step is to enable them to build networks, seek and find mentors, grow and develop while feeling connected and engaged.
Hiring veterans is really no different than hiring anyone else when it comes to treating your staff with respect. The primary reason employees leave jobs isn’t compensation, it’s the treatment they get from their immediate manager. Many companies promote managers from the ranks, a sound retention policy in itself, but not all transition well into their new roles without help. Train your management to develop their leadership skills, the ability to empower others, and to invest time and energy into “hearing” and “seeing” their concerns, ideas, and recommendations. Veterans who are accustomed to being relatively invisible in the military respond particularly well to the investment of time and attention all employees need.
Consider developing a veteran hiring program for your company, that incorporates a cohesive approach to recruiting and training not only veterans but all other employees. Establish a clear methodology for employing the right candidates, and retaining and motivating them. Your company will benefit from an initiative that enables staff to be proud of their employer and feel honored to work alongside veterans.