Tips for hiring, onboarding and retaining military veterans

Drive-thru:

  • Employees with military training make ideal construction employees.
  • Attract veterans to your company by acknowledging their service.
  • Onboarding and retaining veteran employees successfully requires that you consider their military background and training.

If you’ve heard that military veterans can make stellar employees capable of elevating your entire team, you heard right. Military training translates especially well to the construction site.

“At a young age, military personnel gain training and supervisory experience directly applicable to working in the construction industry,” says U.S. Army veteran Tim Best, CEO of Bradley-Morris and RecruitMilitary. Both companies are recruiting firms specializing in military veteran talent.

“Service members are experienced in leading teams in challenging environments, doing very physical work, focusing on strict standards, and meeting deadlines,” says Best.

Even better, a large percentage of military veterans have degrees in engineering or engineering-related fields. This results in valuable analytical and technical skills.

Hire military—male or female—and you can be confident they’ll represent your company well. As Best says, “Service members adhere to an honor code during their time in service and, as a result, will uphold an employer’s standards in regards to conduct and dedication.”

Veterans also learn valuable teamwork and communications skills while in the service— both vital qualities on the job site.

Attracting Veterans to Your Construction Company

Given their many positive attributes, it’s not surprising that military-trained talent is in high-demand.

Want to attract veterans to your company? According to Best, acknowledging the value of their time in service is one of the best ways to do so. At the same time, it’s vital they see that your interest in them is a business decision and not just altruism.

It’s vital that veterans see that your interest in them is a business decision and not just altruism.

“Veterans do appreciate that people want to help them, but it means so much more that you value their experience and believe that they will bring value to your construction company,” says Best.

One of the best ways to attract veterans to your company is to give recruiting tasks to the already-existing veteran employees.

“A client of ours, who hires many vets involves the company’s successful veteran employees in recruiting,” says Best. “It’s especially effective for veterans to see others who have walked in their shoes and succeeded in the construction industry. This gives them comfort and confidence that they can do the same.”

Onboarding Veteran Employees

When a veteran joins your company, a smooth transition is likely if you commit to their success. Keep the following tips in mind to ensure that onboarding goes like clockwork.

  • Outline hierarchy. Veterans are used to a clear chain of command. They should know exactly who does what within the organization. If you have an employee manual, they will read and internalize it.
  • Specify duties. A thorough job description is vital for a veteran employee. Make it clear as to precisely what is expected of the new employee.
  • Focus on teamwork. Veterans are used to working in team environments. “Have other veterans in the organization be a part of their onboarding and mentor them through the early stages of their career,” suggests Best.
  • Invest in their development. “Veterans come to your company with valuable skills, experiences, and talents, but they will need to learn the construction industry,” says Best. “Investing in their development through frequent manager communication and feedback during the early stages of their career will accelerate their growth and endear them to your company.”

A thorough job description is vital for a veteran employee. Make it clear as to precisely what is expected of the new employee.

Retaining Veteran Employees

In general, the keys to retaining veterans are not much different than any other employee. Assign appropriate responsibilities according to their skillset. Then respect and acknowledge the work veterans do by praising and paying fairly.

Here are a couple of additional efforts you can make that would be meaningful to veteran employees.

  • Encourage a veteran ERG (Employee Resource Group). If you have a few veterans at your company, suggest they form an ERG. This will allow them to find additional support as well as enhancing their career development.
  • Recognize important veteran holidays. Acknowledge important dates, such as Veterans Day and other commemorations.

“One of the best programs I ever saw was a company where the CEO literally emailed each Marine Corps veteran on the birthday of the Corps,” says Best. “This means a lot when the CEO takes the time to acknowledge the Marines and thank them for their service.”

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