What Veterans Entering the Civilian Workplace Want

May 1, 2024

Military veterans, reservists, and members of the National Guard can be valuable additions to any organization’s workforce, bringing their can-do spirit and specialized training to a variety of civilian roles. Every year, more than 200,000 service members transition out of the armed forces[1], and companies that can offer them a great employee experience are poised to capture talented, hardworking employees looking to start their next chapter. In interviews with Great Place to Work, representatives of several great workplaces offered tips for helping veterans thrive within their new organizations.

 

Celebrate their service

Military veterans are proud of their service and believe that it has set them up well for careers in the civilian world. When “companies . . . encourage veterans to draw on that experience and unique skill set in their civilian careers,” says Clay Stackhouse, a retired Marine Corps colonel and regional outreach manager at Navy Federal Credit Union, this “not only helps ease the transition to civilian life for veterans, but also ensures greater productivity and employee retention.”

Great companies find ways to help veterans and current service members share their stories. For example, Bell Bank creates videos about employees such as Andrew Gaydos, a Bell employee and Army captain, who was deployed as part of a civil affairs team in Romania for a year. While he was away, his Bell coworkers supported his family by bringing them meals and helping with chores on their hobby farm outside Fargo, North Dakota. In addition to its efforts to care for service members (which have been recognized by the Department of Defense), Bell Bank also honors its veterans on Veterans Day in a video shared with all of its associates across the company.

 

Help them navigate the hiring process

Service members who send their resumes to Bell Bank are always brought in for a screening interview—even if there isn’t a job opening for them yet. “It’s very important to me to support our veterans,” says Julie Peterson Klein, chief of staff and chief culture officer for Bell Bank. “If you have served or are serving, we want to meet you and get to know you.”

 

Offer financial education tools

Upon leaving the service, many service members feel that they could use more information about retirement saving and investing. In this way veterans resemble lots of other employees in today’s workplace who are looking for financial well-being and resources to build a strong foundation for their families.

 

Prioritize flexibility

Workplace flexibility has become increasingly important for all workers in the postpandemic era—and veterans are no exception.

 

Develop employee resource groups for veterans

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are valuable tools for many employees, but particularly for veterans who value advice from other former service members as they navigate their transition out of the military. “Less than half of veterans feel that they were highly prepared for transition to civilian life,” Stackhouse says, and they commonly rely on fellow veterans for career advice. It can also be helpful for companies to work with nonprofit groups and organizations that focus on helping veterans build careers after their service and provide specialized resources and coaching to help smooth their transition to the civilian workforce.

 

Connect employees to a higher purpose

All employees prize meaningful work, but for veterans the ability to continue their service is especially compelling. Among many veterans, serving a purpose is the most sought after trait in a career, underscoring veterans’ desire to continue serving their communities even after leaving the military..

 

Help them build careers

“Employers should also recognize that there are multiple paths to success for service members transitioning out of the military, including vocational education and other career training,” says Stackhouse. “Offering veterans opportunities for instruction in skilled trades, upskilling, and other career development will help establish stable, meaningful career pathways for service members transitioning out of the military.” Companies that want to attract veterans should offer them not just jobs but opportunities to build fulfilling careers.

 

Ted Kitterman is a content manager at Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture. Powered by its proprietary platform and methodology, Great Place To Work offers unparalleled data and benchmarking, the most respected workplace certification and lists, and industry-leading research and insights, all supported by a wealth of resources and a thriving community. To learn more, follow Great Place To Work on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram or visit greatplacetowork.com and subscribe to their culture newsletter.

[1] Navy Federal Credit Union. 2023. “Best Careers After Service in 2023.” Navy Federal Credit Union website, October 30, www.navyfederal.org/makingcents/military-life/2023-best-careers-after-service.html

Written by: Ted Kitterman

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