3 Strategies to Support Veterans and Increase Employee Retention Rates

Posted by Ashley Jones

The benefits of recruiting veterans are obvious to cleared employers—they’re primed for work in the cleared community and they offer immense value to companies looking for skilled, hard-working talent. If you’ve spent time recruiting these folks, you know the basics required to attract and hire veterans.

From educating yourself on military lingo to optimizing your job postings, there are a ton of resources available that can help you learn to recruit veterans effectively. But recruitment is only half the battle.

A study from VetAdvisor and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University found that nearly half of all veterans leave their first post-military position within a year, and between 60% and 80% of veterans leave their first civilian jobs before their second work anniversary.

Veterans can be very loyal to organizations, but that doesn’t mean they won’t leave if their needs aren’t being met. To make the most of your military hiring efforts, your strategy should encompass not only how to attract and hire these individuals, but also how to ensure continued retention.

Consider these three strategies for supporting veterans and improving retention at your organization:

Set Expectations and a Clear Path for Advancement

This piece of the puzzle should begin in the recruitment process, but it’s important that you continue to set clear expectations for your veteran hires after an offer has been accepted.

Setting expectations sounds reasonable—for any new hire, right? As simple as this sounds, it’s a crucial element of retaining your veteran workforce. Veterans are accustomed to the structure and clear direction the military provides.

Something as small as sharing an organizational chart, or explaining your company’s structure, will go a long way to help your new veteran employees transition more smoothly. Even though you likely touched on things like the chain of command and responsibilities of the role in the hiring process, make sure these basics are clear from the start to set your veteran hire up for success.

Veterans also value a known pathway for advancement, as the military has a clear structure for moving up the ranks. So don’t hesitate to share dates of evaluations and reviews, and how to become eligible for raises and advance their career at your organization.

Disclaimer: Just because there’s an emphasis on setting expectations for veterans doesn’t mean you can’t throw them a curveball. Veterans are typically up for a challenge and are great problem solvers who know how to make decisions under pressure.

Build a Community

We hear a lot about the importance of organizational culture when it comes to hiring people from any sort of background. For veterans in particular, a mission-oriented culture with a sense of community can go a long way in supporting retention. Veterans are used to belonging to a team with a mission in the military so it’s important that you help your new veteran hires get to know the team they’re joining.

Think about how you can build that sense of community right off the bat. Whether it’s a walk around the office to make introductions, a video call for remote employees, or taking your new hire out to lunch, these small steps will help lay the foundation for team-building. Take it a step further and consider activities in and outside of the office to build relationships amongst coworkers.

The US Department of Labor states that veterans place importance in having a mentor (preferably a veteran) on arrival, as well as an onboarding program specific to veterans to help them adjust.

Having a veteran mentor who has already learned the ropes can help ease the transition by sharing their own experiences. If you don’t have a veteran available to serve as your new hire’s mentor, a civilian employee will still be of great benefit.

It’s valuable to have someone your new employee can go to with questions about the department or anything else that arises in the initial days and weeks on the job. Consider a full-fledged mentorship program in which employees can enroll to be paired up with a new hire to offer assistance.

In a recent ClearedJobs.Net Military Monday webinar, Gary Patton, VP of Veteran and Military Affairs at CACI International Inc, shared one way his company supports new hires is by inviting them to join CACI’s Veteran Employee Resource Group (ERG). The ERG keeps their veterans informed, while also assisting with hiring, retention, philanthropy, mentorship, and professional development.

In addition to ERGs and team-building activities, sharing your company’s story can also help veterans feel like they’re part of a community. What are you company goals, and how do they fit into the big picture? Veterans want to feel like their work has a purpose and they’re impacting the organization. So give them something to buy into, that they can feel like they’re part of.

Communicate With a High-Touch Approach

The last strategy that’s key to success is communication—something that will help facilitate setting expectations and building a community. In order to be successful in those areas you need to place importance on clear verbal and written communication.

The first few weeks on the job are critical, so keep the dialogue open and establish regular times to check in with your new employee. You can even have someone from HR or the veteran’s new mentor check in with them to address any issues or questions they may have as they adjust to their new role. And don’t be afraid to provide constructive feedback either. veterans are used to performance reviews and gaining advice on how to improve.

Beyond communicating with your new employee, communication with your non-veteran workforce can also support a veteran-friendly environment. Helping your civilian employees understand more about the basics of the military will foster greater understanding and communication.

Whether your veteran workforce is currently big or small, putting in some extra efforts to ensure a seamless transition will help combat that statistic about the number of veterans that leave their first post-military position within a year. Low retention equals a high employee cost for your organization, so it’s important to offer veterans support beyond the initial hiring process. The veteran you support to today, could become a resource and mentor to another new hire in the future. If your company takes care of veterans, they will take care of you.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

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This entry was posted on Monday, November 08, 2021 6:12 pm

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