HR Must Better Understand Military Competencies to Advance Veteran Hiring


Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer June 18, 2017

HR professionals and employers need to take the time to understand military culture and the military perspective in order to effectively recruit and hire veterans, according to dozens of thought leaders brought together by the SHRM Foundation.

The SHRM Foundation, an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), partnered with the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations to hold a summit earlier this year on Integrating and Engaging Veterans in the Workforce. The gathering in Alexandria, Va., of 50 thought leaders and stakeholders representing a diverse set of public and private perspectives on veteran employment was part of an initiative in support of employers hiring, engaging and retaining military veterans.

The full report from the event will be released today at the SHRM 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition.

The summit participants concluded that the most pressing need is to educate both employers and service members in the areas of cultural competency, acumen, and the process of transitioning out of the military and into the civilian workforce.

Just as organizations should try to better understand the military, transitioning service members should develop cultural competencies for the business world and consider the employer perspective, so the two sides can effectively communicate, translate job skills and assimilate culturally.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Becoming a Military-Ready Employer]

Participants agreed that the challenges in veteran employment are broad. "They span the entire life cycle from talent identification, recruitment and hiring, onboarding and integrating, all the way through engagement and retention. Transition is a complex process, not a single event, which means that a comprehensive solution set is required," the report said.

Additional high-level takeaways from the report include:

  • More effective and robust platforms and initiatives are needed to match veterans and employers, especially in the areas of job skill translation and transitioning education programs. "Most programs to help veterans transition to the civilian workforce do not actively connect job-seeking veterans with employers," the report said. "Businesses, HR professionals and service members must actively search for and tap into these transition programs."
  • Veterans need more realistic expectations of the civilian workplace. "To better manage their expectations, veterans must learn the honest truth about the nature of relationships, behaviors, business values, compensation and career paths in the civilian workplace." Summit participants agreed that veterans often experience a lot of stress and frustration when attempting to transition without adequate preparation.
  • Veterans should adopt a set of core values in alignment with the business world. Doing so will help them culturally assimilate and become an essential part of the organization. "Though it may take some time for veterans to adapt to some business values such as innovation and customer satisfaction, they will find a better fit with the organization when their values align," the report said.
  • Integrating and engaging veterans in the workforce can add substantial value to an organization, including improved performance and productivity, a more flexible and strategically focused workforce, and increased diversity.

The SHRM Foundation is partnering with veteran-serving organizations to create a suite of free resources and tools that will be issued throughout 2017 and 2018 and which are meant to assist employers in finding, hiring, engaging and retaining veterans in their organizations, including:

  • A business case and companion PowerPoint presentation on the value of hiring veterans.
  • A series of case studies explaining how other organizations have overcome common challenges such as sourcing good veteran talent.
  • A comprehensive guidebook sharing the best research-based practices on hiring and retaining veterans.
  • A local-impact brochure with a list of recommended service projects, partners and other opportunities to support veteran employment in the community.
  • An online list of resources and recommended veterans' organizations that can provide additional assistance and guidance.

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