With incredible experience and valuable skills, veteran employees are becoming an increasingly important and growing part of the American workforce. In fact, according to the American Council on Education, an additional 1.5 million U.S. veterans will be transitioning to the civilian workforce over the next three to five years, representing a 30% increase over the normal rate.
While it’s encouraging that more businesses are investing in recruiting and hiring ex-service members, it’s important that they initiate veteran-specific retention and engagement efforts. Through a combination of veteran-friendly benefits and workplace initiatives, benefits managers are perfectly positioned to foster a strong, supportive work experience for vets.
What, specifically, should employers be focused on?
Here are the top five veteran-friendly benefits:
1. Emotional wellness
Through your employee assistance program, make sure there are dedicated resources for veteran employees. Offering confidential assistance with emotional, behavioral and mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide prevention, substance abuse and addiction will support veterans in adjusting to civilian life and succeeding at the workplace.
2. Personalized financial consultation
For service members and their families, financial issues are often a top concern. Providing a complimentary resource for personalized financial coaching on money management, dealing with debt, and retirement planning can help veteran employees and their families address specific financial challenges and build a more secure financial future.
3. Career advancement opportunities
Explore reskilling, training and educational programs suited to each employees’ strengths, background and interests, and support veteran employees in pursuing opportunities that match career goals. For advanced education, look into local resources that can provide consultation on understanding and utilizing GI Bill benefits or Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) available.
4. Comprehensive life management referrals
There is no questioning the amount of community-based resources available to veterans, but wading through the vast and diverse range of resources available can be a daunting and overwhelming task. Through an employee assistance program with integrated work-life referrals, dedicated specialists can do all the research and legwork in finding veteran-specific community resources based on employees’ specific needs.
5. Management training and consultation
Training supervisors and managers on veteran-specific issues in the workplace is imperative to providing the best possible resources for service members and their families. Training can cover a variety of issues, from hiring and recruiting veterans, to communication best practices and leadership development. It’s also important for management to be aware of veteran-specific support resources available to employees, and how to refer employees to those program services.
One final tip for providing a veteran-friendly work environment is honoring veteran employees and military families throughout the year. Find creative ways to make veteran employee recognition part of the company culture. Highlight employees’ service on social media, organize community service activities to give back and encourage the workforce to give genuine and sincere acknowledgement and appreciation to veteran coworkers.