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5 Tips for Making Military-Veteran Employment Programs Work

As Memorial Day looms, it’s a good time to talk about the new and expanded employee programs many companies are implementing for returning vets.

Combined Insurance, for example, was named the No. 1 Military-Friendly Employer by a top military magazine this year, using data analytics to identify vet candidates for employment and then offer extensive career and sales training. The company also is working with congressmen on Veteran Hiring Summits that would join business and government leaders in tackling the topic.

Calibre Systems is the prime contractor for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and works with dozens of companies, including Audi of America, on programs to give worthy veterans a leg up in the job market. Audi, for example, is closing in on working with its dealers to hire the 200th U.S. military veteran as a dealership technician or parts-supply specialist.

“Veterans like to see that success and their career progression is within their control.”

And direct marketer Valpak targets military veterans for recruitment of new franchisees for its direct-mail couponing business that focuses on demographically selected households in more than 100 markets. Valpak has a veteran’s incentive program that waives startup fees for qualified veterans for a savings of up to $32,500.

Combining the approaches of the three companies, here are 5 tips for success in attracting military veterans:

  1. Proactively take advantage of the opportunity. Military veterans’ experience “and the values instilled in them during their service are core success factors that are transferrable to a variety of industries and roles,” Brad Bennett, president of Combined Insurance, told CEO Briefing. “We see our veterans as great adult learners, team oriented, responsible, disciplined, hard-working, determined and committed to helping others.”
  2. Understand how to transfer their experience. One challenge for veterans coming into the civilian workforce, these business leaders say, is that employers don’t give them enough credit —literally and figuratively—for the skills, experience and other attributes they gained while in the military and how those skills would translate in the work environment. “Employers can see a veteran come in the door and want to treat them like a greenhorn,” Hyland said. “And that’s not fair.”
  3. Have an assimilation plan. It’s not enough—and, actually, a backward step—for companies to attract military vets and then not have ways to assimilate them effectively. Valpak, for instance, offers “a proven system to follow that is much like the structured environment they experienced during military service, with a very direct and detailed process designed for success,” said Greg Courchane, director of franchise sales for Valpak. Combined Insurance even has put military leadership in place, connected veterans with each other as part of an employee community, created a similar structure to the military in its field sales organization, and has plans in place to roll out a veteran-to-veteran mentors program.
  4. Create merit-based rewards opportunities. Veterans tend to be goal-oriented and disciplined, and they like to see rewards for that approach, Bennett said. “We recognize performance and pay for results,” he said. “Veterans like to see that success and their career progression is within their control.”
  5. Understand the multiple benefits. Not only do employers gain from employing veterans in the very tangible ways they contribute in the workplace, but there’s a win-win-win PR benefit as well. “These programs really generate goodwill in the community,” Hyland said. “Customers like to see a commitment to do right by those who have served the nation.”

More savvy employers are understanding that hiring veterans should be on their company dashboards continually, not just during patriotic seasons. The ones who do are reaping the long-term benefits.




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