The Moral Imperative is Now the Business Imperative:
As we continue into 2019, we will see a growing industry-wide shift taking place in the talent market that is driving new business strategy. With an overall projection of 20.5 million jobs that will be created by 2020 and the labor force growth rate slated to decline this year (Jobs Outlook), employers are now even more challenged in competing to attract and retain top talent. This shift has pushed employers to rethink their talent strategies to pursue a forward-thinking approach that will enable them to stay ahead of their competitors. Looking at the trends now taking place in the talent acquisition and human capital management space, we now see two major initiatives: a focus on more comprehensive diversity and inclusion programs, and the integration of new HR technologies.
The Impact of Diversity & Inclusion on Businesses.
According to a report issued by Deloitte, “Leading organizations now see diversity and inclusion as a comprehensive strategy woven into every aspect of the talent life cycle to enhance employee engagement, improve brand, and drive performance.” Diversity programs will continue to evolve, and so will an increased focus on a hyper-diverse group of high ROI job candidates such as military veterans.
Military veterans represent a uniquely skilled and finite segment of talent with approximately 200,000 military service members transitioning to the civilian labor force each year. Veterans now rank as a Top 3 priority to American businesses, and 90% of HR professionals and hiring managers feel veteran recruitment is essential to their businesses. The business case for hiring veterans has been well established and has driven employer demand for this segment of the talent pool.
However, recruiting and retaining military veterans is challenging. While many companies now have military veteran employment initiatives in place, a majority of them are struggling to achieve desired results. In fact, only 7% of the Fortune 500 are satisfied, or very satisfied with their veteran hiring program.
The reason: Traditional recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes do not allow organizations to compete for and appropriately place a veteran candidate in the right job. In fact, the number one reason why 43% of veterans leave their first post-military job within a year is due to job misalignment.
A successful military veteran program requires a strong foundation that runs much deeper than just recruiting. It needs a phased-approach that begins with organizational planning and preparation to deploy the right applications, processes, and tools required to execute effectively and maximize business impact. However, most companies today do not have a clear picture of the number of veterans they already have employed, and lack data on their current military workforce performance and the individual needs that may cause roadblocks for their military talent to reach full potential.
The Impact of Big Data & Predictive HR Analytics on Veteran Programs.
Building the right military talent strategy must first start with a comprehensive analysis and understanding of an organization’s current workforce and the overarching business objectives. When military programs are not wrapped around organizational needs and goals, they often result in performance decline, poor employee experience, and costly turnover.
The first step any business should take is to implement a basic analytics technology that can organize workforce data to baseline the current situation and identify the veterans that are currently employed. Once the organization can look at their veteran population discretely, patterns and gaps will be revealed that will drive the development of program strategy and the proper action plans that align to the business’s goals.
- Which groups of veterans are currently operating at a high level? What attributes and experiences do they have in common?
- What military and post-military training and experiences were those veterans exposed to that assisted them in their high performance?
- Can we replicate that experience that led to high performance in other veterans who may have missed out on such exposure?
- What overall patterns should we look for in our hiring process to both identify immediate top performers and, much more importantly, those that with exposure to training and experience will themselves become high performers?
Predictive analytics technology can play a vital role in this base lining exercise providing, for the first time in many cases, visibility into the value and opportunities that a focus on military talent reveals. This data-driven approach is the only way for an organization to accurately measure the growth of their military program and its impact on the business.
Once the analytics platform is established, and all veterans (and any other class of employee for that matter) are in the system, then the power of the analytics tool begins.
As the analytics platform reveals specific patterns and cause and effect relationships, immediate action plans can spring into action.
- Targeted training should be provided to fill any gaps within the organization to ensure the understanding of military experience, practical skills translation and matching, and industry best practices. This approach is required to properly prepare the entire organization to have the greatest success with their military program.
- Improved hiring profiles can be established to target veteran with specific configurations of life, military, and work experience.
- Untapped pockets of military talent, overlooked by other employers but that possess the trainable gaps can be targeted. Here is where solving the moral imperative becomes a competitive business advantage.
Moving forward, the analytics platform gets smarter and smarter. Machine learning will organize the data and make it more intelligent as new information comes in. New patterns, gaps, and opportunities can be revealed. New veteran leaders will emerge with other attributes and correlations that can be tied together back into the baseline to feed the hiring and employee development programs.
This is not a static one-time exercise, but rather a living breathing strategy. We are just barely scratching the surface of the potential of these types of programs to maximize all human potential, and that data will reveal a wealth of value to be tapped into for the company and the people involved.
Smart organizations will, over time, realize that by weaving veterans into the fabric of their organizations while leveraging big data analytics, creates the greatest reciprocal success and satisfaction rates that benefit the employer and military veterans, alike.
This approach will provide a significant competitive advantage in an already overheated labor market, which is forecasted to get much more severe in the years to come.
Companies with less than 500 employees are facing incredible hurdles in today’s highly competitive market. With growth being top of mind for today’s small business leaders, these organizations must now look to adopt new strategies to sharpen their competitive edge.
Business growth, however, is primarily driven by an organization’s ability to successfully attract and retain top skilled talent that will drive company performance and increase revenue. With job creation on the rise and a labor force that continues to decline in its growth, these businesses now find themselves forced to compete with well-established enterprises to attract this type of top talent.
Further, many of these businesses are under-resourced and rely on antiquated hiring practices, making it even more difficult compete to attract and retain high-performing employees. Hiring costs are already staggering, and when recruitment goes wrong, the impact of employee turnover is even more devastating to the bottom-line. According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), the average cost-per-hire for a company is $4,129, and when an employee leaves, it can cost between 90% – 200% of that person’s salary for the company replace them.
It’s no wonder why business leaders at the helm of these organizations recognize the urgency to implement a new approach that will better position their business to compete and succeed going forward.
For these forward-thinking leaders, there is a powerful blueprint to bolster their ability to attract top performing employees, reduce employee costs, and drive business growth.
The answer – Military Veterans.
The moral imperative is now a business imperative. An organization establishes a tremendous competitive advantage when they integrate veterans into their business. Here are a few reasons why:
- Increased employee ROI – Veterans are a uniquely skilled and finite segment of talent with over 200,000 military members entering the workforce each year. There is a myriad of military occupations that match directly to private sector roles, such as IT specialists, business operation managers, healthcare workers, heavy equipment operators, construction workers, human resources specialists, truck drivers, and so many others. Further, there are even more military skills that translate directly into private sector job requirements. On average, veterans also have higher rates of retention over the bell-curve of their careers and perform at higher levels in the workforce compared to their non-veteran counterparts.
Reduced hiring costs – Employers can reduce their hiring costs through an array of significant federal and state tax credits offered for hiring veterans. Businesses can earn up to $9,600 in federal tax credits for each qualified veteran they hire. They can also take advantage of the many state tax credits that are now available as well – For example, in California, an employer can earn over $37,000 in state income tax credits over five years when hiring a single qualified veteran.
Increased employer and consumer brand value – Companies that hire and support veterans increase their brand equity in both the consumer market and the talent market. When a company develops a program to recruit military veterans it not only reflects social responsibility, but also results in building goodwill with customers, employees, and the community at large. Veteran households spend 16% more overall than the average U.S. household, and 87% of consumers will support brands that support military causes. Further, 90% of veterans seek out employers that have programs in place to actively engage and hire military veterans.
Increased market-share and industry performance – Businesses that successfully integrate and retain veterans within their organization are more likely to have financial returns above their industry medians, as well as capture new market share.
As you can see, hiring qualified veterans offers employers significant financial incentives through a wide range of federal and state tax credits, as well as overall recruitment and employee cost-savings. So, it is no wonder why there is a rising demand for veterans.
However, to be able to hire and retain military veterans successfully, a business must develop a well-structured program that is positioned for maximum impact, benefiting both the employer and veterans, alike. Creating a veteran hiring program is not just something that an enterprise-size organization can do. Any business – small or large – can create a highly successful military veteran hiring program, but it does require planning and preparation to get it right.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating a Military Program For Your Business
Developing an effective military veteran hiring program requires a strategic and phased approach that flows throughout the entire business – it is much broader than merely recruiting. For a company that has less than 500 employees, here are the required steps to create an effective program from the ground up:
Step 1: Plan.
First, you need to identify the needs of your business to develop and align a program strategy to it. Are there talent gaps that exist within your organization that are critical to fill? Do you need to build better brand awareness to drive new customers? Once you can define the goals of your business and identify the gaps that are preventing you from getting there, you can begin planning where and how to integrate veterans to have the most significant impact on your business. You will also need to establish goals for your program and identify the resources your business might need to accomplish them. If your company has other business leaders, ensure everyone is working together in full support of the program and its needs.
Step 2: Prepare Your Business.
Next, you will need to take the plan you have created and begin preparing your business, accordingly. This includes identifying the tax credits that are available to your business, as well as the compliance requirements associated with hiring military veterans and Reservists/National Guard members. You should also think about how you currently engage job candidates, as well as the recruiting and HR practices you might have in place to support your employees. There are many ways in which you can adjust your current practices and equip your team with the right knowledge to be better prepared to hire and retain military veterans successfully. This is done by providing team training on critical topics such as military experience, skills translation and matching, and informed best practices to create a better employee experience for military veteran employees.
Step 3: Launch Your Program.
As you launch your program, you will need to work in parallel to begin attracting military talent to your business. This starts by promoting your company to the broader military community. Ensure your message to veteran job-seekers is authentic and speaks to why your business values their service and the commitment you have in place to hire them. As you begin promoting your open positions to military veterans, ensure you write job descriptions that use language which references the military skills and military occupations you are seeking. You should also create recruiting materials (print and digital) specifically for military veterans with relevant military-focused content. Just be sure that any imagery or text you use is both sensitive and accurate – as an example, you wouldn’t want to use an image of a service member wearing a “uniform” that is not an authorized U.S. Military uniform, or feature a service member in uniform with facial hair, as this is not allowed in the military.
Hiring and Retaining Veterans:
There are many free resources your company can use to post its open jobs to the military community and as well to find, and screen qualified military job candidates. Federally funded programs and veteran organizations are in place to help employers at the state and local level to help you connect with eligible military veterans in your community.
As you work to attract and hire top military talent, you must also take steps to ensure your business works to keep that talent. While many factors influence employee retention, the key to retaining top military talent boils down to two fundamental actions: ensuring you understand and correctly match military skills to the appropriate roles within your company, and engaging and empowering those military veterans within your organization to be able to unleash their full potential.
Depending on the size of your company and the scope of the military program you intend to build, many other necessary steps and actions need to be taken within these three phases to prepare and support the program correctly. However, the action plan outlined in the three stages above provides a fundamental framework for a business with limited resources to establish a military hiring program positioned for maximum impact.
No matter how large or small your program is, ensure you are always assessing results and measuring them against your goals. Make sure you are also actively collecting feedback from your veteran new-hires on the hiring process to identify and adjust any areas that may need attention.
We live in a hyper-competitive world that continues to intensify, and employers must take a new approach to attract and retain top talent that will drive their business forward. For smaller firms, in particular, military veterans offer a significant competitive advantage. However, to realize both the organizational and performance benefits they deliver, those businesses must create a program built with a strong foundation to ensure it will be successful from the start.
Market competition will continue to increase over time. Are you ready to give your business the boost it needs by weaving veterans into the fabric of the organization?
…. Because if not now, then when?
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