Veterans make up an increasing number of people in the labour force and as of 2020, around 45.2 percent of veterans were employed in some capacity. It can be an intimidating prospect for veterans who are either returning to the workforce or entering it for the first time. With that in mind, below are 4 things HR managers can do to support veteran new hires.
Let New Hires Announce They Are Veterans
Many veterans, especially if they have seen combat, are hesitant to tell new people about their military experience for fear of judgment. Myths and misinformation surrounding things like PTSD abound and it is understandable that veteran employees may feel reluctant or nervous to make their military experience public knowledge right away.
Because it is a sensitive subject, the humane thing to do is to let these employees disclose the information when they want to and to the people they choose. It might be tempting to recognize veteran employees from a place of pride and a desire to have others appreciate these men and women for their dedication and service to the country, but it is still a good idea to let them broach the subject on their own time.
Entering the workplace for the first time or re-entering it after many years of military experience can be a daunting experience for veterans. There is often fear over acceptance, worries that military skill sets are not going to translate well to the workplace, and concerns about being able to relate to one’s coworkers and develop workplace friendships and good professional relationships.
One way to help veteran new hires navigate these waters is to give them access to employees who can mentor, helping them learn the ropes and deal with some of the stress. It is even better if these employees are ex-military themselves and can relate to the struggles experienced by the new worker. Mentorship opportunities are also a useful way to help fast track talented veteran employees with unique and valuable experience who need to be brought up to speed so that their abilities can be fully leveraged.
One of the most important skills many people leave the military with and one which is always useful is leadership. Being in the military involves both following and leading others. If a new hire rose through the ranks in the military, you can be almost guaranteed that they have ample experience leading men and women, perhaps in stressful or harrowing situations.
Leaders are both born and made, and if you, as a manager, know you have a capable veteran leader on your team, encourage them to make use of their leadership and inspire their coworkers. If you see clear and early leadership signs from veteran new hires, consider pointing them in the direction of any leadership professional development programs your company might offer and encourage their managers to give them feedback during performance evaluations on how they can hone and make better use of their skills.
Provide Professional Development Guidance
Spending years in the military, in many ways, isolates you from civilian life and therefore the labor market. Knowing what kind of career opportunities exist and how to go about pursuing them is easier when you have been plugged into an industry or workplace for many years.
With that in mind, managers can help veteran new hires better understand their career options within the company and give them insight into the kinds of skills, experience and professional development needed to reach their career objectives.
As an HR manager, you are responsible for, among other things, helping personnel engage the company and access the resources they need to make the largest contribution possible. With veterans, there are some special considerations that you should be sensitive to. Keep the above considerations and recommendations in mind and make the most of your organization’s veteran human capital.