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Veterans in the Workplace: Help Them Make the Transition

How can you reach the full potential of veterans’ talents and capitalize on their experience—and attract more of these workers to your company? The key, according to recruiting experts, is to make sure your workplace is an inclusive environment that remains sensitive to veterans’ needs.

In this 90-minute Veterans in the Workplace webinar, moderated by DiversityInc Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Barbara Frankel, David Casey, vice president of workforce strategies and chief diversity officer at CVS Caremark and former vice president of workplace culture and chief diversity officer at WellPoint, and Margaret Downey, military and diversity recruiting at CSX Corporation, discuss the benefits of hiring veterans and the best practices that keep these workers engaged.

While veterans only make up about 7 percent of the total population (approximately 11 million people), according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they are more educated than the general public. Ninety percent have a high-school diploma, compared with 84 percent of the general public.

Casey, who served in the Marine Corps for eight years and was a part of Operation Desert Storm, says an aptitude for education and learning is just one of the many skills veterans can offer. He notes inspirational leadership, enhanced camaraderie/teamwork, adaptability, a balanced perspective and a strong work ethic and drive to complete assigned tasks.

What’s important, says Casey, is that companies help veterans transfer these skills and experiences to a corporate setting. Without support and recruiters educated in military life/terminology, it can be a challenge to recruit and retain veterans. (For more, read Recruitment Tips: Where to Find Veterans.)

 

One company well versed in hiring veterans is CSX: 1 in 5 employees currently serves or has served in the armed forces. Downey says the company has outlined a targeted military-recruiting strategy that aligns with its other diversity-recruiting strategies.

“Ultimately this pool has the potential to increase company profits and productivity,” Downey explains. (Watch CSX’s Susan Hamilton discuss the company’s corporate recruiting strategies below.)

Casey and Downey detail during the webinar a variety of recruiting and workplace best practices. These include:

  • Using recruiters who are military experts who know where to look for candidates
  • Starting a military or veteran resource group to provide support to employees and provide leads to new talent
  • Providing a structured environment with clear communications/responsibilities so veterans can thrive
  • Offering flexibility and support for veterans with disabilities such as hearing loss, hypertension and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Making up differences in pay/salary for active-duty and veteran employees, and keeping their families and spouses in mind

Additionally, special training for managers and coworkers could help make others aware of how to be more culturally competent with veterans.

Read Veterans in the Workplace: How to Help Them Succeed for more best practices.

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