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How to Support Veteran Employees

How to Support Veteran Employees

Everyone has a unique skill set. Talents can shine through in different, exciting, and advantageous ways. Veteran employees — thanks to their military background — offer skills and abilities you may not find elsewhere.

It’s critical to ensure your business has the bandwidth, resources, and capabilities to provide a veteran-friendly environment. Take a few moments to ask yourself some questions that’ll help determine if your organization is veteran-friendly. If your organization falls short, there is always room for improvement. We encourage you to read further and gain an understanding of how to hire veterans by prioritizing diversity, offering veteran support, mentorship, and reskilling programs/training, and why — between their experiences and makeup — veterans can provide great value to your organization.

Veterans Day is an ideal opportunity to recognize veterans’ contributions and the talent they can offer an organization. You can also honor those who have served by supporting veteran employees and giving them work opportunities that can benefit the veteran community and your business.

Not to mention that there are plenty of benefits to doing so! No veteran is the same, but you can count on many with core skills essential to workplace success. Think of hiring veterans as a way to not only give back to those who served but also a way to optimize your organization.

Why Hire Military-Background Employees?

No doubt you’ve seen a film or television show depicting military service. Sure, there are topics and common threads that parallel real-life service, but there’s much more to understand and appreciate about the military background of veteran employees. Recognizing their POV can positively impact your org.

For starters, you’d be hard-pressed to find a field that lends itself to diverse experiences and opportunities as much as military service does. Whether it’s the ample sectors available to servicemembers or exposure to different cultures through deployments, no two veterans will share the same story — which is great for a workplace eager to champion and support diversity.

Through their rigorous training and group-oriented environment, those who serve usually develop hard and soft skills that are valuable assets to just about any industry. Their tenures ensure that leadership, project management, teamwork, and accountability are cornerstones of their day-to-day tasks. These values are held and become part of veterans’ mindsets as they move forward in their careers. Finding employees with the essential leadership characteristics and a team spirit with the experience to back it up is always a win for businesses.

There’s also a practical benefit for any company supporting veterans in the workplace. Though not all veteran employees qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), it’s worth a look: applying for and meeting WOTC qualifiers can earn companies tax breaks ranging from $2,400 to $9,600 per veteran, depending on how often they work.

This tax incentive can help companies develop ideas, execute them, attract more talent, and become a larger competitor. It’s beneficial for all involved.

Support Veteran Employees Teddy T. - Class of 2021, Military Veteran

Supporting Veteran and Active-Duty Employees

If you’re curious about how businesses can support veteran employees, keep these tips in mind as you start to include them in your search. Remember: no one veteran is the same, but commonalities exist. It’s critical to bear both individualism and the core tenets of military experience in mind.

Ensure Your Diversity Recruiting Strategy Includes Veterans

Diversity is a key metric for hiring. Hiring veterans grants opportunities to the vast number of people who serve and keeps diversity front and center by tapping into a talent pool of people with various backgrounds.

Veterans are reflective of the United States and have many different characteristics. There’s bound to be a perfect match for your open position(s) among this eclectic, experienced, and disciplined collective. Diversity is critical, and veterans need to have a seat at the table within the hiring process and talent pool.

Support National Guard and Reserves Members

Flexible work and leave policies are necessary, especially for National Guard and Reserves employees. Be sure to account for their being ready at a moment’s notice and have supportive policies in place to make it possible.

Make sure your company can offer generous leave policies, work-from-home opportunities, and other flexible policies. It’ll attract a larger pool of talent, keep them invested, and ensure they can be of service when duty calls.

Pair Vets With Mentors

Sometimes, veterans are unsure of where to go next once they leave the military, even after hiring. To help assure them that they can thrive and get direction should they need it, offer them mentorship. Mentors provide support, advice, and clarity that can make a world of difference in an employee’s life. In business settings, a mentor can even help sharpen workers’ skills.

A mentor can offer the paradigm shift a veteran needs to work through life’s obstacles, ultimately helping them become the best version of themself. Showing care to your veteran employees through something as meaningful as mentorship is a great way to honor the unique needs of each worker and constructively address them, all while learning becomes an essential part of the process.

Offer Reskilling and Training Programs

Similarly, reskilling and training programs are invaluable for supporting veterans in the workplace. It’s never too late to learn a new skill, and veterans are ready to answer the call with confidence and purpose.

No matter where you work, there are bound to be some challenges and changes along the way. Technology moves fast and new ways of doing things become the norm before you even know it. Offering appropriate training helps employees keep up, sharpen their skill set, and prepare for what’s next. You never want to fall behind the curve — always aim to be ahead of it.

Support Groups for Veterans and Military Service Members

Well-being is critical to all employees, including veterans. To support them in the workplace, you must attune to their needs. Veteran support groups within your organization or employee resource groups (ERG) go a long way.

Empathy is a crucial component of being human. We are more than workers, CEOs, soldiers, or tradespeople — we’re also our emotions, our past, and the potential that can pave the way for the future. Take the time to nurture veteran employees and recognize that there are some things civilians do not understand on the level a support group would. Offering a helping hand is both a practical and kind way to show appreciation and usher in personal development and growth from veteran employees.

Communicate Roles and Objectives Clearly

Is “communication is key” a bit overused? Probably, but that doesn’t make it any less factual and essential for workplace relations and productivity. If you’re wondering how to support veteran employees with a simple but effective tool, practice effective communication. Providing clear-cut instructions, objectives, and feedback all help make goals manageable and achievable for any employee. Be straightforward, but also give credit when it’s due.

Clear goals and objectives are necessary to get the job done correctly. While errors happen anywhere, clear, concise, and effective communication can eliminate some of them. Keep calm, listen carefully, and make your mission something team members can be proud of and able to contribute.

Support a Welcoming, Inclusive Workplace Culture

Everyone deserves a work environment that makes room for individualism. A welcoming, inclusive workplace culture makes employees feel seen, cared for, and respected. Our nation’s veterans come from all walks of life and cultures, and it’s ideal to strive toward a workplace that welcomes every person and fosters inclusivity.

Plus, a diverse workforce exposes other employees to new perspectives and ways of thinking. The more we can learn about each other and feel included, the better we can work together. A culture supporting that mission can do wonders for morale and is a must in today’s beautifully diverse world.

Partner With Veteran-Owned Businesses and Suppliers

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and admit, “I don’t quite have the answers.” That’s okay! Experts are here to help and guide us. Partnering with veteran-owned businesses and suppliers is a surefire way to support your veteran employees. Not only will you show respect toward veteran employees’ service, but you will also gain unique insight from veteran-owned business workers who provide a veteran perspective that will help you understand those you employ.

Having a strong connection with veteran-owned businesses will also help you gain the trust of veteran employees. They’ll see that you are making an effort to understand them, and your doing so means they may feel more comfortable communicating their needs and giving their all to their role.

Partnering with a Higher Education

National University knows the importance of serving. After all, National University was founded by a Navy veteran. Our military students mean so much to us, and it’s only right that we serve those that keep us safe. Businesses looking to upskill their veteran employees need not look further than National University’s 75+ career-oriented programs and credentials, veteran resources, and Spouse and Dependent Tuition Reduction Scholarship to find a great fit for veteran employees looking for professional development and growth. We are always eager to partner with organizations we believe in!

It’s never been more crucial for employees in any field to have the education they need to not only succeed but thrive in their chosen profession. Partnering with National University is a great way to keep up with the demands of the workforce and help employees reach their educational and career goals.

Colton L.

Supporting Veterans in the Workplace and Beyond

To that end, we encourage you to look into Workforce Education Solutions (WES) at NU. WES’ goal is simple: help attract, train, and retain employees through beneficial partnerships that help businesses unlock employees’ potential. Through a WES partnership, you can:

  • Provide tuition discounts to your employees
  • Create scholarships and internships
  • Develop industry, organization, and job-relevant skills training

The demands of the workforce change daily, and you won’t want to miss out on the opportunities available if you don’t keep up. A WES partnership will keep your employees educated, ready for what’s next, and open to new goals and challenges. Plus, these partnerships can be customized to meet any needs you may have. No goal is too big if you have the right tools at your disposal — and we want to make sure your business is getting every need met while your employees are reaching their full potential. It’s time for your business to identify its needs and act.

Hiring veterans is a practice your business will soon appreciate as you welcome new perspectives, gain employees with diverse skills, and show respect for a diverse and hardworking community. If you’re wondering how businesses can support veteran employees, partnering with National University and WES is a great start.

Questions? Please reach out to [email protected]. Happy Veterans Day, and thank you to all who have served and made sacrifices for our country.

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