Veterans are invaluable assets to small businesses and major corporations, and a good company culture plays an integral role in the development and success of these unique employees.
But are you doing enough to ensure that your company culture is veteran-friendly?
Over 200,000 veterans leave military service every year and return to their families and communities. Getting a fulfilling job is one of the best ways for military service members to transition back into civilian life.
Follow these tips to create a work environment where veterans can flourish.
Veteran Outreach is Essential
Hiring veterans just for the tax credits and benefits are not the foundation of good company culture. Veteran-friendly company culture starts with outreach.
A focused outreach plan immediately lets veteran job-seekers know that they’re valued. People naturally want to work with companies that want to work with them.
There are plenty of ways to reach out to veterans. Here are a few ideas to start:
- Participate in a job fair
- Use military-friendly messaging
- Develop veteran employees to lead outreach programs
- Talk about benefits for military family members
- Emphasize veterans’ strengths
Successful veteran outreach needs a marketing strategy. Leverage everything from print marketing to social media to attract future hires. Use images and languages that speak to military life.
Be Understanding of Military Life
Military life and civilian life differ in several ways. If you don’t create a culture of understanding, you run the risk of alienating both veterans and civilian employees.
All your employee handbooks, policies, and job ads should state that your company actively hires veterans. This disclaimer lets all applicants know that the work environment is veteran-friendly.
If you’re hiring veterans for the first time, prepare your staff by discussing the differences and nuances of military life. Employees may have misconceptions about veterans’ political affiliations or state of health, for example.
Create a Culture of Purpose
One challenge for veterans who are transitioning back into civilian life is finding purpose in their new lives. Work is crucial to purpose, especially to veterans returning home. Veterans have specialized skills unique to the Military, but many have difficulty applying them careers back home.
The truth of the matter is that military skills are highly adaptable to civilian jobs. Education, tech jobs, engineering, airline jobs, cybersecurity, and manufacturing all benefit from veterans’ skills. The list goes on.
This point speaks again to the importance of good outreach. As a veteran-friendly employer, one of your jobs is to show veterans how their skills benefit these new careers.
Make it clear that you understand military life and discuss how their skills can help them move up the ranks in your company.
Leverage Veterans’ Strengths
Veterans must find the right job fit. Veterans learn a variety of skills in the military. Start them off on the right foot by offering jobs that best fit their skill set.
For example, veterans have an excellent work ethic and leadership skills, which makes them uniquely qualified for management. You could create an executive development program that develops veterans for mid to high-level management positions.
Veterans are also goal and task-oriented, which is excellent for operations roles. Learn how your veteran employees’ skills can benefit your operations team and include that in your training materials.
Think of how veteran strengths can benefit your company and incorporate that into your outreach messaging.
Plan for a Successful First Day
You want your new veteran hires to have a successful start to their careers. One way to do that is to give clear directions on the first day of the job.
Veterans are used to taking directives and meeting goals in the military. Make sure they have all their company handbooks, policies, employee schedules, lockers, and any other necessary work items on the first day. For sales positions, present veterans with expected sales goals and timetables early on.
Provide comprehensive training from day one. Veterans need to excel at what they do and understand what they’re doing. Onboarding veterans without training is a terrible idea.
Veterans need a clear point of contact. Make sure leadership roles are clearly defined and that your leaders know how to communicate with veterans effectively.
Veterans will not thrive if your company doesn’t value stellar communication. Poor communication is the opposite of good company culture. Take this opportunity to fix communication issues before onboarding veterans newly released from the military.
Excellent communication prevents and diffuses conflict, which is essential for collaboration among military and non-military staff.
Make new hire orientations a part of your onboarding process too. Orientations can go a long way in making veterans feel valued, included, and comfortable with their new roles.
Give out branded swag bags to veterans and their families. Company mugs, shirts, pens, stationery, gift cards, and discounts make excellent gifts for new veteran hires.
Recognize Military Families
Just like any other employee, family is significant to veterans. Include military families in your outreach messaging and benefits programs to support veterans as they transition to civilian life.
Here are just a few ways to make your company culture more military family-oriented:
- Plan family day corporate picnics
- Include discounts for veteran family members
- Give out free movie passes
- Print child-size corporate shirts for kids
- Sponsor military family activities
- Include photos of military families in hiring material
- Hiring veteran family members
Think of ways military families can benefit a good company culture overall.
Partner with Veteran-Friendly Companies
Making military families a part of the process leads to the next point on partnerships. As a veteran-friendly employer, you’re in a unique position to partner with other companies that actively hire veterans.
Partnering with other veteran-family companies creates an extensive network of resources for veterans and their families. These resources could include job referrals, clothing discounts for job interviews, and job training classes.
Referrals may be one of the most important resources for veterans navigating the job market. If one company doesn’t have a position right away, it can refer that applicant to another company that’s hiring veterans.
Consider that money may be tight for veterans looking for a job too. Join a network of companies that offer generous discounts, offers, and freebies to veterans and their families.
Icebreakers, Team Building Activities, and Retreats
Don’t forget that veterans like to have fun too. Icebreakers, team building programs, and employee retreats are critical for morale and career growth. These activities bring veterans and non-military employees together.
Try to have an employee retreat once a year. This idea is an excellent way to celebrate everyone on your staff.
There are plenty of team building ideas to try. For example, if your staff is active, you could include obstacle courses, team sports, and sprinting. Outdoorsy employees would also appreciate camping, hiking, and survivalist team building activities.
You could have employees cook together to inspire collaboration, goal-setting, creativity, and communication. Escape rooms are also becoming popular with corporate team building events.
Consider consulting with a team-building event planner to learn about the best way to facilitate bonding between veterans and civilians.
Good Company Culture Gives Back
In the spirit of teamwork, start giving back to your local community.
A company that gives back not only attracts and retains veterans but civilian employees too. Even better is that consumers are more likely to do business with companies that give back to their communities.
Incorporate community activities into your team building program. Plant trees, hold food drives, cook food for elderly veterans, donate toys, participate in neighborhood street fairs, and sponsor charitable events.
Giving back is another way to instill purpose in veteran employees. Groom veterans for leadership roles within your goodwill programs. These goodwill activities can overlap with outreach to attract more veterans to your company.
Introduce a Wellness Program
Many veterans led active lifestyles in the military. On the other hand, many former military service members have health problems from active duty.
This issue presents a unique opportunity for you as a veteran-friendly employer. Now’s the time to make wellness a part of your company culture. This change will benefit veterans, all employees, and your bottom-line.
Healthy living directly corresponds to increased productivity and higher morale at work.
Here are a few ways you can prioritize wellness in the workplace:
- Provide free fruits, veggies, and healthy snacks
- Keep plenty of fresh drinking water on-hand
- Include a gym at work
- Offer complimentary yoga and exercise classes
- Provide off-site gym discounts to employees
- Plan yearly company retreats
- Include a kitchen to encourage healthy cooking
- Encourage bike riding
- Create walking paths at work
- Include a tranquil break room at work
Breaks are critical for productivity, morale, and wellness. They prevent burnout, sluggishness, headaches, and conflicts. All employees need time and a place to decompress from a stressful day.
Inspire Veterans to Be Their Best!
Good company culture is the foundation of every successful veteran-friendly company.
Make veterans the heart of what you do. Follow these tips to include more veterans in your company mission. Discover the benefits of hiring veterans for yourself!
Keep striving to make your company culture the best it can be. Check out our blog for essential tips and tricks or contact us now to find the right HR solution for your company.