Companies doing more to attract, retain veterans

19 Apr 2013

By MaryBeth Matzek

Loyalty, leadership and a strong work ethic are just a few of the qualifications that set military veterans apart when they enter the civilian workforce, according to HR leaders. With more companies interested in hiring veterans, additional attention is being paid to help those new workers feel comfortable in their new surroundings.

Veterans are entering today’s workforce at the highest clip since World War II as the military draws down its forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Just over a year ago, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched its Hiring Our Heroes program with a goal of getting members to employ 500,000 veterans and helping them and their spouses’ transition to jobs in the civilian workforce by the end of 2014. As of mid-March, 933 businesses of all sizes have pledged to hire more than 212,000 veterans before the end of 2014.

But while many companies and organizations participate in veterans-only job fairs to employ veterans, the work doesn’t end there, says Millette Granville, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for Time Warner Cable. She says retaining those employees is important, too.

“TWC has multiple programs in place to help connect veterans who are going through the on-boarding process to others who have been in their same shoes,” Granville says. “We created VetNet, a veterans’ employee network, so we can connect newly hired veterans to TWC employees who are VetNet members. The VetNet members serve as mentors to help the newly hired veterans network through the company and adjust to working outside of the military.”

Wells-Fargo has groups for their more than 2,000 veteran employees where they come together to share concerns and successes as well as do service projects, says Brian McCullough, the financial firm’s military affairs program manager. A major in the military before he joined civilian life, he says mentoring relationships are essential for veterans as they enter the civilian workforce.
“In the military, I was Major McCullough and was used to being addressed in a certain way and having what I said as an order being dealt with right away,” he says. “Now, I’m just Brian and people won’t just drop everything when I want something. My request is treated just like everyone else’s. That’s something you need to get used to.”

As many people leave the military, Granville says they may feel pigeonholed into a particular area and may not realize their skills can be used in other areas. TWC is working on an assessment it can give to military vets to see how the skills they used every day in the military translate to a job for the cable company.

“When people leave the military, they may not have a lot of information about what types of careers in which they can find continued success,” Granville says.

TWC also has programs in place to make it easy for employees if they are called back up for duty. For example, Granville says, they can continue to receive their health insurance and a pay differential.

Wells Fargo uses the Military Crosswalk software program that allows service members and veterans to put in their military occupation code to see what jobs might be available. Beyond that, McCullough says the firm is a member of the Partnership with American Corporate Partners, which identifies people in different companies who serve as mentors and can help veterans with their resumes and see how what you did in the military might transfer to a civilian job.

“You can get help with your resume on how to structure it to connect better with the civilian world,” he says.

TWC’s efforts extend beyond its employees. Granville says the company looks to support military and veteran organizations and activities. “It allows TWC employees to have pride in our company and provides a great opportunity to give back,” she says.

The company is looking forward to doing even more work in this space, Granville says. Recently, TWC embarked on a new project by creating a Veterans Taskforce to take a look at how the company is engaging its veteran employees, as well as how it handles the recruiting process. With buy-in and support from leadership at the highest levels of the company, Time Warner Cable will continue to lead the way in developing programs to attract, retain and engage our nation’s veterans.

McCullough says it’s essential businesses work to help veterans feel at home in the workforce. “Now, more than ever we need to do this and help them make the transition. It’s the right thing to do,” he says.

Inclusion Summit, September 9-10, 2013, Washington, D.C.Companies interested in learning more about this important topic and other inclusion related case studies are invited to attend TMA’s Inclusion Summit on September 9th-10th at the Venable Center in Washington DC. There will be a panel discussion on Welcoming Our Veterans: How to Create an Inclusive Culture for Veteran Talent in Our Workplaces. View the complete Inclusion Summit agenda.