Ease the Transition into Civilian Life

Common sense and thoughtfulness are really all you need to welcome a veteran as a new employee and to create a climate where they can easily ramp up into a productive mindset as soon as possible. Many of these ideas are probably in place at your business. Keep in mind that veterans are transitioning from environments dictated by discipline, clear direction and daily structure and that they are accustomed to strong connections with family, community and employer/supervisor.

Show your appreciation. Emphasize to the new person that their military background makes them a great fit for the company, and explain how their work will fit into the company’s plan for success.

Start the team-building. On the first day, get the whole department together (if possible) for lunch, or have at least two other team members take the new employee to lunch.

Outline company structure. Also on the first day, provide information that the new hire may refer to as needed about who manages which role in the organization—an organizational chart, if available—and introduce the employee to key contacts.

Accommodate any special needs. Disabilities, for example.

Talk about what's next. Explain benefits, policies, dates about upcoming evaluation (after a month, or six months, etc.) and expected timelines for career advancement. Create information packages that list existing resources inside and outside the company.

Keep the dialogue going. Be clear in communications and about all expectations for the job in those first critical weeks when everyone is getting to know one another.

Discuss learning new skills. Explain that the veteran or spouse will be trained to handle new duties. Veterans are used to working with training plans that are realistic and measurable.

Remind them about additional resources. Talk to new hires about exploring ways they can get government help in acquiring civilian licensing/certifications.

Give them a trusted colleague. If you don’t have a military-focused affinity or resource group in place, or an internal mentoring program, determine who in the department will be assigned as the new hire’s buddy or sponsor. This person is responsible for responding to general questions about the organization, the department and the new hire’s role.

Set up regular times for discussion. Establish a routine of communication and agreed-upon deliverables.

Follow up. In addition to regularly scheduled meetings with the manager, have someone from HR meet with the new hire weekly during the first three months. This provides an opportunity for the new worker to ask questions and express any concerns that they may not feel comfortable doing with their new manager.

Help them get to know others. Schedule activities that provide opportunities for new hires to engage with team members outside of their department.

Keep learning. Sign up for one of the Hiring Our Heroes employer webinarsfor more tips. The webinars are led by highly experienced trainers who can provide insight on recruiting, hiring and retaining veterans.