Armed Forces Day, which began as Veterans’ Day, is an excellent opportunity to recognise and reflect on the service provided by the men and women who put their lives at risk to protect us all. When the annual day was created by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown in 2006, the June date was chosen to commemorate the first investiture of the Victoria Cross in 1857. Contributor Lee Holloway from the Officers’ Association.
Whilst we remember the gallantry shown by our Armed Forces in the face of the enemy, it is also worth remembering the extraordinary contribution that former Service men and women continue to make in the face of everyday workplace challenges when they return to civilian life. The particular set of skills that are honed in the military are put to great use in a wide range of public, private and voluntary sector organisations far away from the battlefields and parade grounds.
Many human resources professionals now recognise the benefits of recruiting from among those who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces. Our former officers for example, have gone through one of the toughest recruitment and training programmes in the world, equipping them to tackle the management and leadership challenges in the modern economy.
However, it can sometimes be a struggle for some of our veterans to get started on a civilian career. Our research has found that whilst 71% of employers say they would consider employing veterans, only 39% would employ someone with no industry experience. This means that organisations can sometimes overlook the abundance of soft skills and positive behaviours that Service leavers bring to the workplace, skills that are often hard to find.
Chris Recchia, Partner and lead for Deloitte’s Military Transition and Talent Programme and former army officer said: “We’ve found that employers who go out of their way to hire veterans will rarely hesitate to recommend them to others. The experiences of organisations that hire veterans should send out a strong message to all other employers; every career in the armed forces forges transferrable skills that are more critical for businesses than ever before.”
The research also shows veterans are loyal employees – which means you get a better return on investing in their training – they have a lower sickness rate, perform well in a team and can work under pressure. They are also problem-solvers and often task focussed, which is an asset in many roles. 90 percent of businesses who employ veterans say that they perform well in strategic management and the management and motivation of staff. They excel at communicating, listening and motivating others.
Stereotypes persist still. There is a common misperception that former officers will march into meetings and start shouting orders and expect blind obedience. As a veteran myself, I know that military life is far more nuanced than that. It is about training, honing skills, learning and leadership. Our state invests heavily in developing skills for the military. It would be a huge shame not to continue to make use of veterans’ skills for the wider economy. Every year around 16,000 Armed Forces personnel move into civilian life. Whilst no veteran wants to be treated differently, Armed Forces Day could be a great prompt for HR professionals to make sure that they are taking full advantage of the talent that re-enters the civilian workforce and skills, experience and potential that they bring with them.