Best Practices For Hiring And Retaining Veterans
Within many organizations, there is either a clearly charted initiative or conversations about starting up a program specifically targeting veterans for employment opportunities. While veterans represent a diverse group in terms of demographic backgrounds, they also possess various competencies and skill-sets, many of which translate into the responsibilities of roles within organizations.
Some employers have taken note of interpersonal skill-sets, including:
- Exemplary Leadership
- Work Ethic
- Drive of Veteran Employees
Of course, staffing a high performing workforce is of the utmost importance to any viable organization.
While veterans are commonly regarded as key contributors, there are also forms of regulatory compliance in place, like the VETS-4212 Federal Contractor Reporting mandate, that require employers to hire and advance veterans.
In alignment with the above-mentioned mandate, as well as many Human Resources strategies, employee engagement and retention is critical. Like any other employee within your organization, ensuring that veteran employees feel welcomed and have the support necessary to fully contribute to objectives is critical.
In the development or refinement of a veteran hiring program, be sure to also have pre-planned retention processes in place.
Also, it is important to be aware of some of the factors impacting veterans in the workplace, including attrition and turnover rates.
- Research shows that approximately 2/3 of veterans will leave their first post-military job within two years due to low satisfaction and limited opportunities for advancement.
- Trends show that it takes veterans an average of three job experiences to identify the right “fit” for their professional and personal objectives.
- As with any other diverse employee subsector, veteran employees typically realize higher levels of success and engagement in work places in which there are employee resource/ affinity groups in place.
Set Clear Expectations
A core component of the candidate experience is managing expectations and ensuring transparency in communication regarding the status of the hiring process. Veteran candidates appreciate not only the roadmap regarding the hiring process, but also clear insight into what will be expected of them if offered the role. Beyond discussing the job description, providing information regarding organizational hierarchy, rules and protocol, and the steps necessary to advance in their careers within the company is of importance.
Organizational & Team Readiness
Before you have identified and hired a veteran candidate for an open position, it is important to ensure that your organizational culture is prepared and conducive to the success of veteran employees. While there is no guidebook or resource available for welcoming a new employee to the organization who happens to be a veteran, it is the role of management and Human Resources to ensure that both the organization and the department are prepared.
The fact is that there is already a diverse employee population within workplaces across the country, and teams with an understanding of how best to embrace the perspectives of individuals from different walks of life are typically higher performing and more cohesive.
Encourage receiving teams to build rapport with the new employee as they would with any other; this includes asking questions before assuming as well as taking the time to understand the new dynamics in the group and identifying the best ways to leverage skill sets.
Within many organizations the performance management process is complex; it may be beneficial to veterans, and possibly other employees, if resources are developed that clearly explain the manner in which performance will be evaluated. This resource should include the following:
- Time frames during which formal performance reviews are conducted
- Organizational policy regarding informal feedback
- Rating system, and behaviors associated with high and low performance
- Promotion Criterion & Process
In explaining the performance management process, it is important to maintain transparency. Often times within organizations feedback is only given on an annual basis for logistical reasons; if this is the case within your firm and there is no flexibility, it is imperative that veteran candidates are made aware before accepting an offer of employment.
Engage Key Partners
The success of a veteran recruitment initiative is contingent upon support from the organization as a whole. From a Human Resources perspective, involvement from functional areas including Talent Acquisition, Employee Relations, Benefits, On-Boarding and Learning & Development is critical. Each of the areas will drive a concise employee experience beginning with recruitment and ultimately retention of veterans. Other key internal stakeholders that will serve as critical partners in the external branding of recruitment efforts are Corporate Communications and Marketing.
Involve Your Veterans
Whether your current workforce is comprised of a handful or several thousand veterans, it is important to recognize the fact that they are your best asset in driving a veteran recruitment initiative.
Current veteran employees have identified practices and programs that have kept them engaged. They can provide suggestions regarding improvements to make your organization more inclusive and conducive to veteran advancement.
From a recruiting perspective, enlisting the assistance of a veteran at career fairs, throughout the hiring process and in the development of targeted marketing materials will ensure that all practices resonate with your target audience in an authentic way.
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