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How to Make Your Company a Veteran-Friendly Employer

By 2023 we can expect to have more than 3.5 million veterans in the market for civilian jobs, according to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This makes it imperative for corporate America to come to the party and create an environment friendly to veteran employees. Companies not only help to reduce unemployment in the sector, but get the benefit of an enhanced pool of candidates to choose from and improved reputation among current and prospective employees.

Here are some essential steps to take to make your organization a veteran-friendly employer:

Develop an Effective Values System

Most veterans exit the military with a solid training in the seven core army values. Coming from a world where these govern everyday activities, veteran candidates will respond to companies that have a strong values system in place. It’s not enough to simply have a document listing the values, however; communicating them is equally important, through your mission statement, website and social media profiles. This emphasizes your business’s commitment and sets a moral compass for both company and employees.

Implement a Veteran Hiring Initiative

To establish an official hiring initiative aimed at veteran candidates, you will need to get committed support at the highest level in your organization. Setting up this type of initiative requires resources and commitment to succeed. Once you have these, you can perform the necessary research, identify ways to attract veterans, develop programs and alliances and build your visibility as a veteran-friendly company. Without this level of support, many attempts fail to meet their objectives and end up being phased out, because interest and enthusiasm become difficult to maintain.

Create a Culture of Inclusion

Conduct an assessment of your company’s culture to identify aspects of the organization that might be less than welcoming to veterans. Most former members of the military joined up right after school, which means they have limited experience of how business works. Factors like corporate language and practices that are common knowledge for civilians could seem completely foreign to veterans. Look for ways to:

  • Make the environment more hospitable for veterans with disabilities (both visible and invisible)
  • Identify managers who are open to making changes to create a more inclusive atmosphere
  • Ensure new hires are informed about common business practices and terminology.
  • Spotlight key resources for veterans and ensure all employees are aware of them.
  • Educate non-military staff about common military phrases and methodologies, so they can communicate effectively with new employees.

Develop firm corporate policies to reduce the risk of misinterpretation, particularly with processes that change during a deployment. This will keep your military workers up to date and help them feel a sense of belonging.  

Appoint a Veterans Affairs Liaison 

Many companies find it helpful to have a Veteran Affairs Liaison who is well-versed in veteran issues. This person can help veteran employees with questions that come up during their transition to civilian life, and address or resolve personnel issues with other employees. They can also help with the unique onboarding veterans may require to enable them to integrate well into the company systems and culture.

Observe Patriotic Holidays with Enthusiasm 

Patriotic holidays have special importance for veterans, and understanding and observing them fully earns the respect of veteran employees. Many companies do little beyond a token observance of the days, but if you want to become a veteran-friendly employer this will go a long way towards making your staff feel valued.

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