Companies know the value veterans brings to the workplace; that is why so many companies like to hire veterans. But in many cases, companies that are new to hiring veterans are not as prepared as they should be to set up new-hire veterans for success, and not by any fault of their own. If they have not dealt with veterans before, they may not be aware of some of the idiosyncrasies most veterans have.
1. Promises made/promises broken
It starts at the interview process. In the military, when someone says they will do something, the military member usually can bank that it will get done. However, some companies promise things to a veteran in the interview that they either can’t deliver on or won’t.
For example, if at the end of an interview the interviewer says they will get back to the person in a week, then they better schedule it on their calendar to contact them in a week. However far too often, the promise is made as a way of ending the interview with no intention of getting back to the person interviewed … especially if they do not intend to hire that person.
2. Fear of asking questions
Veterans are a group of proud people – so much so that many of them won’t ask questions during an interview for fear that doing so might appear “weak”. And while deep down they know that no question is dumb if they don’t know the answer, they may still refrain from asking it.
Because of that, companies with veteran-hire experience create what is know as an “onboarding process” where frequently asked questions by former new-hired veterans are answered before asked. And the onboarding continues in many companies by then pairing new-hire veterans with veterans already working in the company. A veteran is more comfortable asking a fellow veteran employee questions then they are a non-veteran or someone of authority.
3. Chain of Command
In the military, there is a clear-cut hierarchy of power often not found in the civilian job world. In other words, when veterans were still serving, they knew who they reported to and who reported to them. Without having that structure, many veterans are lost in the workplace. So, it bids well for companies that hire veterans to establish a report structure. While it might not be as precise as the military, it is an understandable leader/led path new hires can follow.
4. Over promise/under deliver
Similar to promises made/promises broken above, it is where a company will say one thing and do another. Veterans are used to both giving and following orders, so if they or someone else says s/he will do something, the expectation is that it will get done. Nothing will turn off a veteran more than a company not delivering on made promises. They would rather get honest bad news than flowery good news that has no intention of coming to fruition. Honesty is the best policy with veterans (and should be with all employees), whether the news is good or bad.
5. Potential for advancement
Veterans are used to a structure where they know with good performance and adequate time-in-grade, they have opportunities to advance. The same should hold true in the civilian world. During the interview or shortly after hiring, veterans should be told how to advance within the company and approximate timeframes for that advancement. And while veterans know that advancement both in the military and civilian world are not guaranteed, at least they know the process and timeline. As mentioned before, avoid making promises that might not happen. Informing and promising are two entirely different things.
As with other employees, a veteran’s first job out of the military most likely will not be the one they will keep forever. But if that employee is happy and confident the organization is looking out for their best interest, they will want to stay with the company and rise through up their ranks – just like they did while in the military. However, if unhappy, they will move onto another company to find the success they could not find in your company. Secure your human resource investment in that individual by following the five tips in this article.