BenefitsPro: Veterans in the Workplace

ACI’s own Megan Hawker was recently interviewed by Nathan Solheim for a BenefitsPro article, which was originally featured on http://www.benefitspro.com/. Below is an excerpt from the interview:

Why should employers offer services for military veterans?

Few civilian companies offer such comprehensive benefits as active military service. Some of these services are available to veterans after they transition. Companies that go beyond the basics in their benefit coverage will stand out. Providing benefit services outside of medical and dental coverage, such as EAP and concierge services, will help attract and retain top talent.

What should employers know about their employees who are veterans?

Create a safe and respectful work environment. As for any employee, an environment that is appreciative and welcoming fosters productivity and success. Be mindful that some veterans prefer to not disclose their service history and be a topic for watercooler gossip.

Be mindful of cultural sensitivities, invisible injuries and disability accommodations. The veteran may be dealing with culture shock and general transitional challenges. For some, they are leaving a world of structure and certainty for apparent chaos and ambiguity. Exacting professionalism, meticulous adherence to standards and mission focus are a way of life that often follows the veteran to their civilian career.

Employers are encouraged to highlight the value of military service and how skills and values from military service can be carried over as assets to the civilian sector.

PTSD can be treated effectively, so how can employers help employees diagnosed with this condition?

It is important that employers and co-workers do not make assumptions that because an individual is a veteran, they have PTSD. The majority of veterans do not suffer from mental health conditions. If your employee discloses they have been diagnosed with PTSD or a traumatic brain injury, educate yourself on the condition. Get to know the individual and their specific needs. Connecting the veteran with a senior-employee mentor can help smooth the transition as the veteran transitions to the new work environment.

What are some tips veterans can use to transition into the civilian workplace?

“Culture shock” is the catchphrase used by veterans transitioning from military to civilian careers. The process will vary per the individual, but there are some key pieces of advice that will make the transition go more smoothly.

Making connections is key. Veterans often have difficulty relating to others because of the extreme nature of their experiences, which can lead to isolation and dissatisfaction with the corporate climate. It may help to seek out other veteran employees. Some may be further ahead in the process and will have valuable advice for adjusting to the work environment. Also, make use of resources such as the EAP for the opportunity to check in with a counselor now and again.

Adapt to new teaching and training styles. Starting a new job means learning a new role and the various duties entailed. The military often teaches in a format of showing how a task is done and then allowing for hands-on practice to master the task with clear learning objectives set ahead of time. This may not be the case at a new civilian workplace, so it will help to have an open mind about various teaching styles, and perhaps to do some prior research on the various teaching and management styles popular in today’s corporate world.

 

Image and excerpt from http://www.benefitspro.com/2014/07/01/what-brokers-need-to-know-to-help-veterans by Nathan Solheim.

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 www.acispecialtybenefits.com or call 800.932.0034.
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