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Kinetic Celebrates Military Appreciation Month: How to be a Military Friendly Employer

Transitioning to civilian employment after serving in the military is often what is most challenging to veterans. In fact, Business Wire reported more than 70 percent of vets said finding a job was the toughest part of the process. And even when landing a job, many veterans struggle to hold onto it as they process the civilian world.
Military Friendly, a workplace certification body, was founded in 2003 to create civilian opportunities for veterans. According to the organization, “By setting a standard, promoting it and raising the bar over time, it provides long term, positive reinforcement for American organizations to invest in programs that improve the lives of veterans. It’s about creating demand for veterans in the private sector.”
Companies seeking the group’s endorsement go through an exhaustive process looking at every element of operations. When the program began, about 20 companies sought the Military Friendly designation; for 2021, more than 2,000 companies began the process and only Windstream and 68 other companies were actually named Military Friendly Employers.
Most of the companies who attain designations like this are enterprise-size businesses. But you don’t have to be to be the kind of place that veterans feel valued and find good use for their skills.
Inc. Magazine offers the following suggestions:
  1. Foster empathy through education. 
To understand a veteran in the workplace, you must first understand what they’re going through overall. There are plenty of free sites online that help put you in their shoes, both as a business owner and for training supervisory employees. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website is a good place to start.
  1. Create ample opportunities for community building. 
Military life revolves around a tight-knit community, something that doesn’t always exist in civilian life. Creating spaces where veterans can make friends or hosting social events outside of business hours can help lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation. On-the-job mentor relationships can also be extremely helpful.
  1. Be thoughtful about new-hire orientation, prioritizing communication. 
The military runs on structure; everything has a regulation and the chain of command is clear. Coming from that world, it can be hard for vets to adapt to ambiguous instructions or fuzzy organizational structure. Providing clear, direct job expectations and a simple company organizational chart are relatively easy ways to make orientation more effective. An open-door policy and direct feedback are also important as the vet gains traction in his or her new role.
  1. Provide opportunities for development. 
The military’s path to specified promotions is well-defined and clear; in the civilian world, not so much. Set up your veteran for success by providing straightforward career mapping that outlines key competencies, performance milestones and includes regular performance reviews.
For more tips, check out this month’s episode of our podcast: Connecting Business.
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