Veterans have all worked in an environment where we can't just quit, so when we enter the job force and can jump ship like anyone else out there, it can feel liberating. However, that is not our style. We are veterans. We believe in loyalty and hard work, and if you've hired us, then we probably already feel you are worth sticking around for. We look for employers who can place as much value on us as we place on you.
If you want to retain your veteran employees, consider the following questions:
- What training are you offering veterans? A large number of veterans held some form of leadership role when in the military, and you should not be surprised if they enjoyed leading others and want to continue to do so. Hire veterans with the goal of developing us into future leaders, and we will gladly step up to the challenge.
- Do you have a mentorship program in place? Not all veterans know where they want their career to take them, and many do not even know what questions they should be asking. Consider a mentorship program to help guide veterans along the way. An added benefit is that veterans are used to having senior co-workers providing guidance and encouraging a feeling of esprit de corps, or a bond with our co-workers. A mentorship can ensure the veteran does not feel abandoned or on their own in your company. If you don't have such a program as this, consider outside mentorship programs, such as the program American Corporate Sponsors offers, or the Hiring Our Heroes eMentor programs.
- What education benefits do you offer? Does your company offer tuition assistance or other programs for helping your employees pursue degrees? How about student loan repayment? Believe it or not, the Montgomery GI Bill came nowhere near to covering our education, at least for some of us. Even with the amazing benefits of the Post 9-11 GI Bill, some veterans have higher aspirations and may want to obtain an MBA or other advanced degree, or have used their GI Bill to cover their Bachelor's degree but were left with student loans from their MA or MBA. Many veterans have high aspirations, so programs related to helping us in this endeavor are likely to earn your company higher degrees of loyalty.
- What did you do for your veterans on Veterans Day? Most veterans do not want you to throw an outrageous party, or necessarily have extra attention drawn to them, but the small things matter. This is especially true on Veterans Day. At one of my previous jobs the boss gave the veterans his credit card to go have beers and steaks. At another, the company gave veterans a book related to the military, a gift card for food, and a company mug. Neither of these signs of appreciation was over the top, but both were appreciated. Even a company email on Veterans Day expressing your appreciation for the veterans that work for you goes a long way. Veterans talk, and word of mouth can certainly affect your brand, especially in today's social media age.
- Do you really care? The answer to this certainly relates to the above questions, but take it further and assess what you are doing to help the veteran community. Consider outreach programs, discounts you can offer, or any other way you can help because you want to, not just because this article says to, but because you care. Consider your veteran brand and how veterans view your company.
Every bit helps. Consider the questions above and do what you can, because we veterans are hardworking, dedicated to mission accomplishment, and loyal. You want us to stick around, and we enjoy working for a company that is not only aware of this, but works hard to retain us and make us part of the team.