Let’s get right to it, as they’d say in the military. Every organization is fiercely competing for top talent—the people with the right mix of skills and values to grow a business to new heights. One often overlooked category of top talent is veterans, who are:
- fine-tuned to do things right;
- wired to be polite;
- convinced that early is on time;
- capable of making order out of chaos;
- perfectly comfortable working in a melting pot;
- nested in purpose; and
- trained in the largest leadership lab in the world.
Who wouldn’t hire a person with these qualities on the spot? Apparently, many of us. Way too many of our veterans, who embody all of this and more, remain unemployed.
These traits were compellingly described in the words of Paul Huszar, President and CEO of VetCor, and LTC, U.S. Army (retired). He has dedicated himself to hiring mostly vets in his water restoration business and speaks nationally about the benefits of hiring veterans. One of my colleagues met Paul recently and arranged a meeting. As a long-time proponent of recruiting veterans myself, I was impressed by his expertise about the many benefits vets bring to an organization, including financial ones. I’d like to share some of his knowledge and expertise.
The Benefits of Hiring Vets
Culture- and operations-based benefits that increase overall productivity and boost morale include:
- Vets have the desirable characteristics employers want, serving as models for workplace values and behaviors and contributing to a positive and inclusive culture.
- The majority of military personnel serve in non-combat administrative roles (like engineers and technology developers), skills that transfer easily and effectively to business.
- With a background in the military’s renowned “small-unit leadership” training, former vets help ensure that team efforts tie into you’re your organization’s overall strategies and goals, eliminating wasted time and productivity.
- Most vets are lifelong learners who are agile, adaptable, flexible, and used to frequent change, creating a more stable workplace environment.
- Vets are typically drug free and accepting of drug-free programs, increasing safety and building trust.
Financially-based benefits that reduce costs for training and overall compensation include:
- Potential tax advantages that vary by state and fiscal year
- Potential cost savings in healthcare for military service retirees and vets with service-connected disabilities who have government benefits
- Likely available GI Bill funding for continuing education and professional training
- VA Special Employer Incentive Program and similar programs at state and local levels that pay up to half of disabled vets’ wages for initial months of employment
- Fellowship programs that allow active-duty service members to train with or work for companies with no salary costs to employers until transition to full employment
Our population of veterans is shrinking, from the nine percent who served on active duty and in the National Guard at the end of World War II, to just one-half of one percent who serve today. This means that the American public—and our elected representatives—are increasingly removed from our men and women in uniform. Maybe it’s that chasm of alienation that creates stigmas about veterans that are simply not true. Or maybe it’s a mindset that urgently needs adjusting.
Young people in the armed services are like anyone else: they want purpose and opportunity, and they hold their leaders to high standards. Military training and experience develop skills and capabilities that are highly transferable to business—along with character that adds value to the culture of any business. Middle-aged retirees offer exceptional leadership experience and ability that helps them meet performance goals. Put any fears to the contrary to rest.
Vets represent the melting pot Americans are so proud of and the diversity that’s been shown to increase productivity and profits in companies nationwide. Companies should be snapping them up! We say that we honor our military institutions, but we’re becoming less willing to honor our vets with what they need most: a job.
This holiday season, I’d like to say thank you to our veterans whose efforts and commitment ensure our safety and express our values at home and across the world. I hope you will join me in not only thanking them for their service but hiring them as valuable members of your talented team.