PayFlex Engage Hiring veterans can help expand the talent pool and meet diversity goals
The benefits of a diverse workforce are plentiful. Diverse talent and perspectives can help drive innovation, increase creativity and collaboration, and have a positive impact on a company’s culture and its bottom line.
However, despite focusing on inclusion efforts, many companies are still struggling to build more representative workforces.1, 2 That’s because resolving this issue goes beyond simply hiring more diverse workers. It’s about knowing where to find those candidates in the first place — and many companies aren’t searching in the right areas. Rather, they’re looking to competitors to “poach” their employees. This lateral hiring only perpetuates the issue, as one company loses diversity in order for another company to gain it.3
Finding highly skilled and diverse employees takes more than looking for a college degree or certain professional experience. It’s about having a strong understanding of the unique value that niche and minority groups can bring to the workforce, knowing how to recruit this talent and learning how to retain diverse employees through the right support and resources.
To help expand their talent pools, meet diversity and hiring goals and see benefits to their bottom line, employers can look to a largely untapped area: the veteran community. Here’s why:
With technology continuing to advance, many companies — especially those looking to fill complex technical jobs — are on the hunt for sophisticated skills, strong leaders and team players. Moreover, businesses are also searching for highly productive employees with the ability to stay focused, work collaboratively with others and adapt well to change (particularly in today’s ever-changing workplace climate).4
Veterans, due to the nature of their duties in the military, possess all of these attributes. Veterans have strong leadership skills, are great team players who do well in fast-paced, high-stress environments and can adapt and overcome when faced with adversity. At PayFlex, we’ve experienced firsthand the value veterans bring to the workplace.
In 2020, PayFlex launched our Veterans Initiative to help veterans transition back into the workforce, provide access to tailored employment opportunities and improve access to health and well-being services. Through this initiative, we’ve gained valuable insight into the experiences of our veteran employees and how their military roles helped them develop strong skill sets and bring unique talent to our workforce.
In an interview with PayFlex, Joan Wright, a director of End User Support Services and Integrated Enterprise Infrastructure at CVS Health®, talked about how her experience as a signal communications officer and one of the first female lieutenants at her duty station in the United States Army helped her build resiliency and a go-getter mentality.
“I was 21, and a platoon sergeant who had served in Vietnam told me that women don’t belong in tech fields. From day one, I did what my parents told me: I gave it my all. I was halfway around the world in Korea, and I asked questions,” she said.
Six months later, as the platoon sergeant was leaving, he approached Wright again and said that of all the lieutenants, he would remember her as the one who came in wanting to learn, gave it her all and earned his respect.
Wright says she is “proud to be a part of a long line of history, seeing the possibilities and limitations lifted for women serving in the military today.”
Despite the strong and highly demanded skill sets veterans can offer, as of June 2021, the veteran unemployment rate was 4.8%, with more than 400,000 veterans unemployed.5 And with about 200,000 service members transitioning out of the U.S. military each year, this number could continue to grow.6 So why is the veteran community being overlooked by employers?
Based on recent studies, there are two clear reasons: common misperceptions and inefficient recruitment strategies.
A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report found that misperceptions about the veteran community among employers seem to stem from a lack of understanding and education about veterans and the military. According to the report, at a meeting hosted in early 2017 by the SHRM Foundation and the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations (NAVSO), participants from the public and private sectors found that there were perceptions that recruiting veterans can be more costly and time-consuming than drawing from traditional talent pools, may create new stresses to organizational culture and could initially increase turnover. SHRM also reported that “managers often lack knowledge of military culture and of the specialized vocabulary that appears on veterans’ resumes, making it harder to evaluate a candidate’s skills and experience.” 6 SHRM concluded that misconceptions and inaccurate information can play into employers’ negative perceptions.
Veterans are highly valuable in the professional world. But this reality often goes unrecognized due to misinformation and lack of education about the military, veterans’ experiences and the unique skills they build through their service. So it’s important for companies who are struggling to find and hire diverse talent to consider their own education about the veteran community and take the initiative to learn more.
Then employers can shift their focus to recruitment. To do this successfully, companies should take a different, more strategic approach to hiring that differs from their typical hiring tactics. To start, they can look to various resources for help.
SHRM HireVets, for example, provides a nationwide database of over 200,000 veterans. Employers can upload their job openings and get instant results on the top candidates. This tool also offers a Military Jobs Translator to translate the military lingo of veteran service jobs into familiar language.7
Hiring Our Heroes is another resource that enables employers to meet in-person and virtually with transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses through events they host.8
Along with knowing where to look for job-seeking veterans, it’s also important that employers’ job postings are easily found by the veteran community. Employers can connect with resources such as their local American Job Center for assistance. This center can help employers post their job vacancies, at no cost, to state job banks or post jobs on the National Labor Exchange (NLx).9
Employers will only be able to see bottom-line benefits of hiring veteran talent if they can help these employees succeed in their professional roles. To do this, employers can focus on understanding their veteran employees’ unique needs.
Whether it’s through anonymous surveys or one-on-one chats with managers, it’s vital for companies to learn directly from their veteran employees about the support and accommodations they may need to succeed in the workplace. Then organizations can look to educate themselves about these accommodations through resources like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Labor. With this knowledge, they can next aim to offer benefits solutions that can help their veteran employees succeed in their roles and responsibilities.
Having the right benefits mix can support your veteran employees and empower them to do their best work. Taking a “whole health” approach can be particularly helpful to this segment of the workforce and help them transition well into civilian duties. For example, a Specialized Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA)™ takes a focused approach at removing barriers to behavioral health care. Or a Well-being Reimbursement Account can engage and reward employees for actively focusing on their physical, financial and emotional well-being.
When it comes to hiring and retaining veterans — and building a more skilled and diverse workforce — take the time to gain a strong understanding of veterans’ unique skills, develop focused recruitment strategies to attract this talent and offer support for their specific needs. With this approach, employers can put themselves on the right path to meet their diversity goals and strengthen their workforce, while also demonstrating a deep commitment to helping the veteran community stay well and thrive in the civilian workforce.
Visit PayFlex Engage for more strategies to get your workforce well-being ready.
1. Caine J. How to create, build and retain a diverse workforce. theHRDIRECTOR. August 15, 2021. Available at: theHRDIRECTOR.com/features/diversity-and-equality/how-to-create-build-and-retain-a-diverse-workforce. Accessed October 28, 2021.
2. Carlos I. Why companies struggle to retain diverse talent — and what to do about it. The Business Journals. June 11, 2021. Available at: BizJournals.com/bizjournals/news/2021/06/11/why-companies-struggle-to-retain-diverse-talent.html. Accessed October 28, 2021.
3. McBride J, Sabar R. When it comes to diversity in hiring, businesses are their own worst enemy. TechCrunch. August 20, 2021. Available at: TechCrunch.com/2021/08/20/when-it-comes-to-diversity-in-hiring-businesses-are-their-own-worst-enemy. Accessed October 28, 2021.
4. Keller S. Attracting and retaining the right talent. McKinsey and Company. November 24, 2017. Available at: McKinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/attracting-and-retaining-the-right-talent. Accessed November 1, 2021.
5. Denton I. Hiring America’s veterans: a smart business decision. U.S. Department of Labor. July 22, 2021. Available at: Blog.DOL.gov/2021/07/22/hiring-americas-veterans-a-smart-business-decision. Accessed October 28, 2021.
6. The SHRM Foundation. Why hire a vet? Available at: SHRM.org/foundation/ourwork/initiatives/engaging-and-integrating-military-veterans/Documents/13056-G-01_SHRMF_WhyHireVet.pdf. Accessed October 28, 2021.
7. SHRM. Hire the most qualified veterans. 2021. Available at: hirevets.SHRM.org/. Accessed October 28, 2021.
8. Hiring Our Heroes. Creating a nationwide hiring effort. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. 2021. Available at: HIRINGOURHEROES.org/. Accessed October 28, 2021.
9. Veterans' Employment and Training Service and the United States Department of Labor. Employer guide to hiring veterans. May 11, 2021. Available at: DOL.gov/sites/dolgov/files/VETS/files/Employer-Guide-to-Hiring-Veterans.pdf. Accessed October 28, 2021.
This material does not contain legal or tax advice. You should contact your legal counsel or tax advisor if you have any questions or need additional information. PayFlex does not provide any payment or service in violation of any United States economic or trade sanctions. For more information about PayFlex, go to PayFlex.com.
HRAs are currently not available to HMO members in Illinois.