Are you a Military Friendly Company? Why you should consider it
By Elaine Dumler
Look out your office window, and you may notice many of the cars in the
parking lot sporting a "Support the Troops" yellow ribbon magnet. Your HR
department asks about military service on job applications. You may even
recall the donations canister in the break room for a few months before
Christmas. Is that what it means to be a military friendly company?
In general terms, military friendly companies make it possible for military
reserve and guardsmen, along with recently separated servicepersons, to work
while providing support for their families. The first way to check on your
companies' military friendly status is to go to www.GIJobs.net and access
the list of this year's Top 50 Military Friendly Companies.
What criteria are used to select these companies? An annual survey focuses
on areas such as company assets dedicated to military hiring, company
policies in regard to the reserve and national guard, the percentage of new
hires who are veterans and the overall vet training and support programs in
This current economy is demanding new and different ways of doing business.
Fresh ideas depend more on the relationships built with employees and
customers than ever before. So, why should your organization strive to be a
National recognition - The Employer's Support of the Guard and Reserve
(ESGR) recognizes military-friendly companies on their Web site
(www.ESGR.org). There is also a map that takes visitors to a list of
companies that are considered "Supportive Employers." These companies have
signed and posted a statement of their continued support of military
Marketing - GIJobs.net features military companies on a "Top 50 Military
Friendly Company" list. This drives new customers to your site because
people like to patronize companies that understand how military knowledge,
support, and real-world experience have a positive affect their bottom line.
Money - Opening your company to a great new customer base is often a result
of being a military friendly organization. Military customers are loyal and
appreciative of those who "give back" to service members and their families.
More than 200 companies offer military discounts.
Great employees - Recently, a national news program discussed the qualities
that make military personnel perfect employees, and why many companies
choose to hire them. They are dedicated, disciplined people who know the
value of following procedures and accepting responsibility. Military
employees often have valuable skills and technical knowledge they have
learned through their service. They understand motivation and teamwork, work
well under pressure or stress, and work well despite adversity. They are a
diverse group with integrity and a strong work ethic. It costs your company
much less to retain a good employee!
To put this in perspective, United Services Automobile Association (USAA)
(4)* makes the Fortune 500, as well as the ESGR list, the GIJobs.com Top 50,
and the Top 10 military spouse friendly employers lists this year, and
they've focused on the value of the military family since 1922. Here's what
they say about the military worker: "'We know what it means to serve' is
more than a slogan. We respect and honor what the men and women in our
military risk for us, and what their families go through to support them.
Not only have you proven yourself in service to our nation, but you also
know our members better than anyone - and can share your unique experiences
through service to our members."
Johnson Controls is proud to be ranked No.1 on G.I. Jobs' "Top 50
Military-Friendly Employers®" list and believe candidates with military
experience bring ingenuity and state-of-the-art training to the workplace.
Here's what they share about the military worker: "We know the importance of
having a highly qualified and diverse pool of talent to recruit from, both
now and for the future. That's why Johnson Controls is pleased to be a
member of the U.S. Army's Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS), established
to provide America's youth with the opportunity to match the skills they
acquire serving their country with employers like Johnson Controls."
Whether your organization is striving to be more military friendly, or if
you are already on the Top 50 list, here's what you can do to foster the
company/military relationship on a daily basis:
Communication - Create a plan that keeps the lines of communication open
from the company to the service member and their family. This needs to be
especially nurtured during times of deployment so the individual doesn't
feel like a "newbie" when he or she returns to the job.
Set and maintain firm company policies - This ensures that there is little
misinterpretation of policies that may have changed during a deployment. If
the policies do change, keep your military workers and their families in the
loop through e-mails, letters and phone calls.
Training - Provide ongoing training to help everyone understand company
policies in regards to supporting military employees. Everyone needs to know
what to expect and how to continue to work together. This helps eliminate
any "me against them" attitudes.
Civilian pay - Some companies maintain a partial salary during deployments
to help make up the difference between military and civilian pay. This
provides great support to the families, and lets the employee know their
loved ones are taken care of.
Support of the family - Home Depot (9) designates Blue Star Employees, those
who have served in the military during their employment, and holds welcome
home celebrations when military employees return. They make it a priority to
hire spouses, and also hold family picnics and activities year-round.
Smooth transition back to work - Military members conduct what they call a
"left seat, right seat" ride with their incoming counterpart as they prepare
to depart the theatre of operations and redeploy home. This allows a
specific amount of time for the outgoing person to show the incoming person
what is expected of him in this particular job. Then the roles are reversed,
and while the outgoing person is still in theatre, the incoming person
starts to conduct business as if she was now in charge. This allows time for
questions to be asked while the outgoing person is still available.
Many companies adopt a similar scenario in the workplace. Instead of
immediately giving back all the responsibilities to the incoming employee
(the ones he or she had prior to the deployment), establish a timeline where
the person who took over the job would continue to do so, while the other
observes. Then, once comfortable in the routine, he would slowly take back
over the things he did before the deployment. This way, someone is still
available to assist if problems arise. By being patient and communicating
with each other, you can create a transition that works and makes things
continue to run smoothly.
This time, as you survey the parking lot for yellow ribbon magnets, you
either know how to encourage your company to become more military friendly
or you can take pride in the fact that you already do work for a company
that knows that it's the right - and profitable - thing to do.
* Number in parentheses denotes company ranking on GIJobs.net "Top 50
Military Friendly Companies" listing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elaine Dumler is an author, speaker and "separations expert" who helps
military families stay connected throughout the deployment process. Through
her current book, "I'm Already Home…Again," and her newest release "The Road
Home," she provides resources and connection strategies for deployments and
reunions, and shows how communities and companies can help. For more
information on her books, or to find out about sponsorships and training,
call 303-430-0592 or visit: www.imalreadyhome.com.