On November 11th, every year, we celebrate the service and heroism of our military veterans. In the United States, military veterans comprise around 8 percent of the adult population. As more veterans begin transitioning from military life to civilian, the need for workplaces to become more veteran-friendly increases.
Veterans make incredibly valuable additions to your company’s culture. They bring extensive training and education to the civilian job world, along with essential “soft skills” and real-world experience that you can’t learn in a classroom.
There are big differences between the military and civilian worlds, however, and making the transition successful in the short and long term may seem daunting. Read on to learn some of the many ways you can build a more veteran-friendly workplace and maintain it year-round.
Foster Empathy Through Education
The best way to empathize with veterans, or anyone of different backgrounds and experiences, is through education. Educating yourself and others about the struggles of veterans helps you to understand better, accept, and connect with them. The Veterans’ Administration (VA) has tools, training sessions, and information that can help you build a welcoming culture attractive to veterans.
Create Opportunities for Building Community
Many veterans have difficulty adjusting to the lack of community in the average workplace. In the military, there is a structure of personnel and families who help new members adjust. In the civilian world, that structure is rarely in place.
Facilitating mentorship at work and encouraging positive professional friendships through social activities and family-friendly events can be helpful for veterans struggling with building professional relationships at work.
Implement Veteran-Friendly Onboarding and Orientation Procedures
Coming from a world where the chain of command plays a central role, it can be difficult for veterans to adjust to the less structured civilian working world. Consider adding detailed walk-throughs to the onboarding and orientation programming and ensure all resources are readily accessible for new veteran hires to refer to later.
Also, ensure that the expectations for the job are clearly outlined and that any urgent or priority information for projects and roles have been well-defined. This is a good guideline for all applicants, veteran and non-veteran alike.
Encourage and Promote Career Development & Advancement
For veterans, the path to promotion in the civilian world can be confusing. Setting up a clear career map and review process, as well as offering professional coaching and development opportunities, enables veterans to see the path to advancement within your company and encourages them to grow and progress forward.