How to Connect with your Veteran Employees

by Megan Hawker, MA, IMF #65325; ACI Clinical Specialist; Captain, Medical Service Corps; US Army Reserves

Military personnel develop many skills that naturally fit right in at a workplace; a strong work ethic, respect for authority, ability to adapt to change, teamwork, mission focus, punctuality and discipline are just a few. Catalyze employee talents by creating an optimal veteran work environment.

Define the Mission

Service members understand their specific duties that will help achieve the mission of their unit. A clearly defined duty description and organizational mission statement allows veterans to continue working in the best interest of the business, even without much other direction. When bringing a veteran on board, outline his or duties and review them together.

Clear Communication

Be upfront and clear when communicating with a veteran. Be straightforward with directives and feedback. Avoid ambiguous communication and subtle, indirect corrections. If there is a problem, state what was done incorrectly and what adjustments need to be done.

When planning a team project, designate a leader or chairman to head the group. Again, address specifics, responsibilities, and expectations. Designating facilitates accountability and also provides a go-to person at the next level of responsibility or management. If a task requires creativity, state it explicitly.

Set Standards

In the military, there is a regulation for everything, and regulation standards are clearly defined. Service members are accustomed to following standards and aren’t likely to deviate from them. It may seem rather mechanical in the civilian workforce, but it is lifesaving in the military. Service members will perform well when a clear example of the standard is set. Be clear regarding policies, procedures and standards. This can range from company dress policy to production quotas. Veterans appreciate when standards are followed, enforced and do not change haphazardly.

Provide Feedback

Service members are evaluated periodically on their performance in relation to their duty description, leadership and unit mission. When providing evaluations review specific accomplishments, strengths, and areas of improvement for potential growth. This feedback is helpful to reinforcing their role in the organization and what they can do to improve.
The military operates through a well-defined chain of command. Business organizations do not always have the same hierarchy. Provide the veteran with a written organizational structure and review it for understanding.

Be aware of time frames given to veterans for completing tasks. Veterans often complete tasks with a sense of urgency and will work until it is done, regardless of what is considered normal working hours.

For more information on how to maximize veteran skills in the workplace, see the Veterans in the Workplace Toolkit, or visit ACI’s Veteran Assistance Module here.

About ACI Specialty Benefits

ACI Specialty Benefits ranks in the nation’s Top-Ten providers of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), corporate wellness programs, student assistance, corporate concierge, and work/life services to corporations worldwide. ACI partners with clients to Perk Up employee engagement and performance with benefit programs that improve morale, productivity and the bottom-line. With a 95% customer retention rate and over 7 million lives covered. ACI remains a privately-owned specialty benefits corporation, headquartered in San Diego. For more information, visit or call 800.932.0034.
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