Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Institute for Veteran and Military Families Publishes a Business Case for Hiring Veterans

Navy Captain Brad Cooper, Executive Director of Joining Forces, a national initiative to mobilize employment, educational, and wellness opportunities for military veterans and their families, recently blogged about a Syracuse University Institute for Veteran and Military Families (IVMF) study that he refers to as “extraordinary”. Captain Cooper goes on to say that the study, entitled The Business Case for Hiring a Veteran: Beyond the Clich├ęs, “confirmed what many of us already knew – hiring America’s veterans makes great sense and is a terrific investment for any company in America.”

The report goes far beyond just stating that veterans embody a certain list of values desirable to employers. Instead, it takes academic research that strongly links characteristics generally found in the veteran population to enhanced leadership and organizational performance. Below are the research-based characteristics that the IVMF concluded make veterans a very valuable asset to an organization:

  • Veterans are entrepreneurial: The same attributes evident in successful innovators are generally characteristic of military service members and veterans.
  • Veterans assume high levels of trust: Military service experience brings about a strong inclination toward an inherent trust and faith in co-workers.
  • Veterans are adept at skills transfer across contexts/tasks: Military training often includes contingency and scenario-based instruction, so veterans develop an ability to transfer knowledge/skills between tasks and situations.
  • Veterans have [and leverage] advanced technical training: During their service, most veterans were exposed to more highly advanced technology and training in relation to their age group peers without military experience.
  • Veterans are comfortable/adept in discontinuous environments: Both contemporary business environments and the military environment can be dynamic and uncertain, and the ability to make decisions under these circumstances is a skill veterans have developed.
  • Veterans exhibit high-levels of resiliency: Adapting despite adversity is a hallmark of military behavior; and this ability is important in a variety of business environments where initial failure is likely, such as in product development, sales, and the high tech industry.
  • Veterans exhibit advanced team-building skills: Veterans must effectively integrate and contribute to a new or existing team by virtue of the demands of their military service. This team-building transfers directly to the civilian workplace where veterans are found to enable high-performing teams better than their civilian counterparts.
  • Veterans exhibit strong organization commitment: The IVMF study explains that “military experience engenders a strong linkage between the individual and the organization.” For a civilian employer, this link can reduce attrition and will be reflected in the end product.
  • Veterans have [and leverage] cross-cultural experiences: Veterans have had to operate across cultures and boundaries and in turn have learned to be more cross-cultural, which is a distinct advantage in a global workplace.
  • Veterans have experience/skill in diverse work-settings: Research indicates that our volunteer military represents a heterogeneous workforce with a variety of backgrounds, education, etc. This diversity lends itself to a natural acceptance of individual differences in workplaces.

This study comes at a time when the government is espousing veteran employment through various programs, most significantly Joining Forces, and employers across the nation are recognizing the value of veterans and hiring them in record numbers. In fact, according to a CNNMoney article by Aaron Smith, the jobless rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is now 7.6%, down dramatically from the previous year’s percentage of 12.5% and less than the overall US unemployment rate of 8.3%. The results of the IMVF study above delve deeper into the multitude of reasons to hire veterans and go far beyond the generalities that, while true, do little to put veterans’ skills in their proper context.

Click here to read the full report.

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