Category Archives: military employees

GE’s Commitment to Hiring Veterans

On the day after our 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks (considering all the soldier deployments and returns that followed), I 177236858-veteran-hiringthought it might be a good time to share this tidbit I’ve been keeping my eyes on. It seems General Electric is going above and beyond in its effort to put military veterans to work. In a recent email, it describes taking skills development and leadership training “to a whole other level” with its Junior Officer Leadership Program.

Those selected to enter the program are able to navigate three different job rotations across various functions within a business while choosing their rotations in order to build networks and do some self-exploration.

This dedication to putting veterans to work and keeping them there wasn’t born yesterday, mind you. In 2012, GE announced its pledge to hire 5,000 vets in five years, a goal it says it has just met. It has also since committed to ensuring 10 percent of all new hires are veterans. In the words of GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, quoted by CNBC at the time of the pledge:

“Too often for veterans, risking their lives has meant risking their livelihoods when they return home. They deserve better, and a good job is a start. But at GE, we also view veterans as great assets for our company’s growth.”

He goes on:

“Veterans have led in the field; they can lead in a factory or research facility. [They] believe in getting the job done and doing it in the right way. For [them], globalization is not an abstract concept, or even something to be feared; instead, they’ve experienced it first-hand. They are proud to work together to reach a common goal, bigger than any one individual.”

Mind you, GE is not alone in its commitment to bring more vets on board. This fact sheet from the White House back in May lists all kinds of similar commitments from large companies, including Amazon, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, the list goes on.

Then there’s this good news, issued late June from Hire Heroes USA, extolling its having reached its goal to hire 10,000 veterans since its founding in 2007.

But as Kyle Kensing, online editor for CareerCast Veterans in Carlsbad, Calif., points out in my June 6 post on the wisdom and virtue of hiring veterans, we still have a long way to go. As he puts it, “there’s still work to be done; the numbers aren’t really where we want them and there are specific things employers could be doing that many still are not.”

Back in June, he cited employers’ needs to reach out more to veterans in hiring and HR practices to defuse the isolation they feel when they enter corporate America. He also cited a need for employers to be more aggressive in increasing their veteran-hiring head counts and ensuring some veterans are working within the HR department, not only because of the skills they bring to HR (responsibility for others, opening up lines of communication, being able to understand what skills people have and what skills people need, and where they need help and where they can shine), but so veterans have a liaison and advocate in HR. Speaking with him more recently, he confirmed improvements are still in need of a boost.

Perhaps this site from GE sums up best the need for — and the bottom-line benefits of — establishing more of a commitment to returning soldiers:

“Your service made you a leader and a disciplined, strategic thinker with a level of loyalty that is unmatched.”

Sounds like a good hire to me.

A Lasting Reminder to Hire Veterans

I’m putting it out there that today’s 72nd anniversary of D-day and Memorial Day a week behind us should serve as reminders of the need for 474510772 -- saluteemployers to keep veterans in mind when hiring time comes along — including all the reminders we’ve posted and published on this subject over the years.

As much attention as the subject has gotten, the numbers are still not where they should be — though a phone call to Kyle Kensing, online editor for CareerCast Veterans in Carlsbad, Calif., a group devoted to helping veterans into new careers, revealed a little good news. They’ve gotten better.

According to him, the unemployment rate among all veterans has been comparable, and even slightly better than, that of the general population for the last two years (5.3 for vets versus 6 for the general population in 2014). However, for the veteran class identified as “Gulf War era-II” (e.g., Iraq and Afghanistan), the 2014 unemployment rate was 7.2 and fell to 5.8 in 2015, showing “the positive impact of hiring initiatives,” he told me.

Also, since the launch of the 100,000 Jobs initiative in 2011 (which we’ve written about on this site), Military Times reports 1.2 million veteran hires since its launch. “So yea,” says Kensing, “that goal was met.”

Still, despite these improvements, “and the fact that more companies are making more of an effort to reach veterans,” he says, “there’s still work to be done. The numbers aren’t really where we want them and there are specific things employers could be doing that many still are not.”

For one, he says, businesses could be reaching out more to new hires from the military to defuse the isolation they feel when they enter corporate America.

“A lot of vets say one of the biggest challenges,” Kensing tells me, “is that, when you’re in the military, you’re in a cohesive family environment, but in business, especially when you start out, you can feel isolated and alone.” So employers could be doing more through managers and HR departments to set up mentoring, coaching and buddy programs for these hires.

Secondly, companies could be making even more of an effort to place veterans in human resource roles. The research is out there underscoring the importance of this. This story appearing on the Society for Human Resource Management site pinpoints the HR manager as one of top eight jobs for military veterans, according to a CareerCast Veterans Network report (here is the specific piece of the report citing HR manager as a top job).

So why is that, I asked Kensing? First, he says, the skills developed in the military translate well into HR: responsibility for others, opening up lines of communication, being able to understand what skills people have and what skills people need, and where they need help and where they can shine.

But beyond that, having someone in HR with military experience, someone who can relate to and understand these job candidates, can make all the difference for their success. There again, Kensing says, “more and more employers, from large corporations to smaller and mid-sized ones, are starting to understand this,” but those numbers could be much better as well.

For the sake of stoking this fire as much as possible, here’s a Fox News piece by veteran Rich Eich, a captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve, on “The Real Reason[s] to Hire a Veteran,” like how they hit the ground running, are used to dealing with multiple challenges, move quickly and are used to learning something new every day.

And here’s our HR Leadership Columnist Susan Meisinger’s piece last year, also detailing the merits of veterans in the workplace and the ongoing efforts to get them there.

And here also is Mark McGraw’s piece three years ago on helping veterans in the workplace as they struggle with post-traumatic-stress syndrome, a problem that persists today.

I guess it all comes down to doing your service for their service. Are you doing enough?

A New Mission: Hire One Million Veterans

JPMorgan Chase's Ross Brown spent 27 years in the military before joining JP Morgan Chase.
JPMorgan Chase’s Ross Brown spent 27 years in the military before joining JP Morgan Chase.

In honor of Veterans Day, we’re posting a Q&A with Ross Brown, director of military and veterans affairs at JPMorgan Chase, about a recently announced initiative by The Veterans Jobs Mission to hire a total of 1 million veterans over the next several-plus years. It’s ironic, given the training and leadership responsibilities so many of them have had, that U.S. veterans continue to suffer an unemployment rate that exceeds that of the general population. The VJM, a coalition of more than 200 companies representing all industry sectors, recently changed its name from the 100,000 Jobs Mission, with the goal of increasing the engagement and career development of vets in the private sector. Brown himself is a veteran, having spent 27 years as an officer in the Army after graduating with a bachelor of science degree from West Point. His tours of duty included Honduras and Iraq, where he commanded the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. At JPMorgan Chase, Brown’s role includes overseeing veterans employment and small business development. As you’ll read below, he’s a passionate advocate not only for veterans, but for the gifts they can bring to the workplace.

What sort of timeline are you looking at for hiring one million veterans?

Throughout the course of the conflicts of the last 12 to 14 years, we’ve routinely been transitioning about 200,000 veterans into civilian jobs from active duty. So I said to the coalition, that’s one million service members over the next five years. So we collectively decided to make that our goal — hire one million veterans — and, when we reach it, then let’s make it two million. We’re also looking to help the coalition have a greater impact by having an exchange of veterans — if, for example, a veteran applies for a job at AT&T, but they don’t have an opening for that person at the moment, they can alert Verizon, in order for that veteran to be hired.

How many veterans has JPMorgan Chase hired?

We’ve hired over 9,500 in recent years. They work in all sectors of our business. We have a three-tiered process for bringing vets into our organization. First, we have recruiters focused on former military members. Eighty percent of these recruiters have been in the military themselves, so they already understand what veterans offer and how to translate their experience into a skill we’re looking for as a firm. Then, once a vet has been hired, we have a sponsorship program that pairs them with a vet who’s been here for a while — that person helps the new hire navigate the organization. And third, we have a veterans business resource group, analogous to a fraternity or sorority, that sponsors events and activities so they can bond with people who share a common experience, commiserate with other vets.

What do vets tend to commiserate about?

First, let me highlight the characteristics that vets bring. The first is leadership. Given the conflicts we as a nation have been in, we have people even in the lowest levels of the military making important decisions. The second is a bias toward problem-solving: I know from personal experience that the challenges you face in the military are dynamic and ever-evolving and the answer is rarely found in a book. The third is teamwork: The military prides itself on being a team of teams. And then there’s character — these are people who volunteered to serve their country knowing full well they’d be sent into combat. And last, they have a bias toward getting things done. Now they find themselves transitioning to these different organizations where they may be a sole contributor rather than a member of a team. In many cases they’ve gone from being empowered to make decisions, even at the lowest level, to situations where they may have very little autonomy.

Another important thing to consider is that in the military, there’s typically a clear career path — an institutional construct for how you will advance, which schools you’ll need to attend, and so on. And there’s often less of that in civilian organizations, where there may not be that same kind of organizational infrastructure. So these are the challenges faced by vets in the civilian workplace, and that’s why being able to commiserate with others with a shared background helps them in that transition.

As a veteran yourself, what sort of qualities most appeal to you in an employer?

What’s important to me are shared values. If I hadn’t felt that the organizational values here at JPMorgan Chase were consistent with my own, then I wouldn’t have joined. Second, I have to feel that whatever business the organization is in, there has to be a commitment to excellence. What attracted me to this job was the opportunity to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives, on veterans’ lives.

Are there some common misperceptions about veterans that can get in the way of them finding work — for example, misconceptions about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder?

This is my perspective, and it’s borne out by statistics: For the majority of vets transitioning today, if they served in combat, they are strengthened by it. They’ve been strengthened by that experience. And that’s the bottom line.

What are the biggest roadblocks standing in the way of veterans finding good jobs?

There needs to be universal acknowledgement that vets are good for business and we need to continue creating pathways for them to be employed. It’s not that there’s no desire to hire them, but what’s the best way to acquire them.

What’s your advice to HR leaders who want their organizations to hire more veterans?

I would suggest they get their companies to join our coalition, The Veterans Jobs Mission, because we offer a support structure to help them employ veterans in whatever industry sector they’re in. We represent a community that shares lessons learned, discusses benefits and opportunities, and so that’s what I’d suggest: Join us.

Training Tutorial: ‘Please Steal Our Idea’

While many of us were off work and enjoying the Memorial Day holiday yesterday, the New York Times ran a piece on the ongoing efforts of Jon Stewart — the soon-to-be-departing host of The Daily Show — to get more veterans working in the entertainment industry.

According to the piece, Stewart and his show’s production team have been running a “five-week industry boot camp designed to bring young veterans into the television business,” regardless of whether they share Stewart’s political viewpoints.

The boot camp actually got its kick start (excuse the pun) in 2013, when American Corporate Partners, a mentoring nonprofit group, “asked Mr. Stewart to take a veteran under his wing and help find that person a job in television, which involved making a few calls,” according to the piece, but “Jon said he wanted to help, but wanted to do more than just drop his name,” said Sid Goodfriend, who runs the program.

Instead, the staff of “The Daily Show” developed an intense five-week immersion program to give veterans a crash course in their business, with behind-the-scenes looks at areas including talent booking and editing. And while they put the out word to veterans’ groups, they didn’t mention that the camp was at “The Daily Show” in an attempt to weed out fans and focus instead on veterans who really wanted to work in the industry.

Stewart and his show developed the program over the last three years without publicizing it, according to the NYT piece, but now, “because Mr. Stewart is preparing to leave the show, he has taken it into the open, urging other shows to develop their own programs to bring more veterans into the industry.”

“This is ready to franchise. Please steal our idea,” Mr. Stewart said in an interview at his Manhattan studio recently. “It isn’t charity. To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places, and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped.”

While the entertainment industry may be much different than other industries we often cover, it’s always encouraging to see efforts being made to get more veterans not only back into the workforce, but into positions they are actually interested in as well.

The only question now is: Is your organization brave enough to steal Stewart’s idea and make it your own?

Veteran Hiring, Revisited

Just last week, President Obama authorized the deployment of another 1,500 American troops to Iraq in the coming months, doubling the number of Americans meant to train and advise Iraqi and Kurdish forces.  But headlines aside, the fact remains, as we celebrate Veterans Day 2014 tomorrow, there are more veterans returning than soldiers being deployed. Indeed, the churn’s a steady one, of veterans leaving the military and seeking employment—and employers looking to add them to their rosters.

475000847Indeed, on the latter front, a CareerBuilder Veterans Day Job Forecast released earlier today found 33 percent of employers are actively recruiting veterans over the next year, up from 27 percent in last year’s survey and 20 percent in 2011. Further, 31 percent have hired a veteran who recently returned from duty in the last 12 months, up from 28 percent in 2013.

HRE has published its share of stories in recent years about companies that have made huge commitments to employing vets, and some of the policies and practices they’ve put in place to help achieve that objective. So I’d like to think businesses are beginning to gain some serious ground on this issue.

If we’re to believe the findings of a RAND Corp. survey released earlier today (also just in time for Veterans Day), however, there’s still a lot more work to be done by all parties concerned.

On the employer side, RAND’s analysis found companies still need to do a better job educating managers on the value of veteran employees, making themselves known to veteran job candidates and taking advantage of federal resources, such as the Veterans Employment Center and SkillBridge.

According to the researchers, many employers also fail to understand how military experience translates to the skills needed for civilian jobs and they lack the ability to track and measure relevant recruitment, performance and retention metrics.

The report, titled “Veteran Employment: Lessons from the 100,000 Jobs Mission,” explains …

“Many companies respect that their veteran employees want to be treated the same as non-veteran employees, but these organizations are investing resources in veteran hiring and could benefit from information about the return from that investment. Although companies perceive their veteran employees to perform well, they do not tend to collect metrics about veteran performance and veteran retention.”

Despite all of the attention workforce metrics has been getting lately, many companies, according the RAND report, are apparently falling short when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of their efforts in these areas.

Veterans, meanwhile, according to the researchers, too often believe their talents apply only in the security or defense arenas and employers (as mentioned above) struggle to make that military experience-civilian job connection.

Kimberly Hall, lead author of the study and a senior project associate at RAND, points out that “military members need to know that defense contractors and similar businesses are not the only places they should look for work, [and they can] contribute valuable skills and experience across the spectrum of American industry.”

One silver lining in the report (which is based on interviews with representatives from 26 member companies in the 100,000 Jobs Mission): Those interviewed volunteered that post-traumatic stress disorder was not an issue. This finding contrasts with an early study on veteran employers, in which more than one-half of the companies interviewed reported concerns about PTSD, suggesting that “employers’ initial concerns have been allayed by their experiences.”

In any case, you might want to carve out a little time this Veterans Day and check the report out, especially since it does include some good recommendations for employers, as well as veterans and federal agencies.

Destroying the Barriers to Vet Hiring

Despite the impressive images earlier this week of Special Op forces landing on a mountain top in Iraq to scout out a possible rescue option for refugees stranded there (and, in turn, help prevent an even more nightmarish situation from occurring), the reality is the U.S. military has been in the process of drawing down personnel from the Middle 477606281East, with the last U.S. troops currently due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2016. A natural outgrowth of this drawdown, of course, is the need for these individuals to find jobs in the private sector. You’d think that might not be an insurmountable challenge, considering many of these vets bring with them amazing skill sets that make them ideal candidates for a long list of positions, including many at the leadership level.

Yet while there certainly have been plenty of stories about the commitment forward-thinking organizations are making to the recruiting and hiring of vets — including some published in HRE and on its website — there still remains a significant number of stumbling blocks that stand in the way of making this happen. True, many companies are taking significant steps in that direction. Earlier this month, 100,000 Jobs Mission, an organization with the goal of bringing together companies committed to the hiring of U.S. military veterans and military spouses, reported that member firms have hired, since its founding in 2011, a total of 161,752 U.S. military veterans through the second quarter of 2014. (The 165 companies now involved in the group pledged to hire 200,000 veterans by 2020.) But there’s little question plenty of barriers remain for these returning vets, including many put in place by employers themselves.

So what factors are standing in the way of returning vets landing jobs? In an effort to answer that question, Christopher Stone, a University of Texas at San Antonio Ph.D. student, is in the process of leading a research study — announced yesterday in a press release issued by the UTSA — aimed at uncovering what might be at work here. Stone, who is about two years into his research and has, thus far, developed a model for understanding factors affecting the hiring decisions of vets, recently co-authored an article titled “Factors Affecting Hiring Decisions About Veterans” (requires purchase) that appeared in the July edition of Human Resource Management Review and proposes several hypotheses and potential solutions. (No surprise Stone — who also discussed the research earlier this month at the 2014 Academy of Management annual meeting in Philadelphia — selected this as a research project, considering he served in the Air Force for eight years, first in an aircraft-maintenance unit overseas and then as a military training instructor.)

As might be expected, two of the primary barriers identified by Stone and his colleagues include stereotyping and a lack of understanding as to how military skills transfer over to civilian roles. According to the UTSA press release, the researchers used a model based on the treatment of people with disabilities to suggest specific steps employers might want to consider as they reassess their veteran hiring strategies (or lack of them), including:

  • Using education programs to dispel stereotypes, publicize veterans’ job successes and change the organizational culture to emphasize the value of hiring veterans;
  • Employing decision makers who value hiring veterans, recognizing and rewarding those who hire veterans, expanding recruiting to find talented veterans and giving bonuses to employees who refer veterans to the company; and
  • Familiarizing decision makers with military jobs and the associated knowledge, skills and abilities that are similar to civilian positions.

I’m sure many of your organizations are already doing some, if not all, of the above. But, that said, considering the significant talent challenges companies are facing today and extraordinary skills many of these vets are bringing to the table, I would think the timing couldn’t be better for employers to take inventory of what they’re doing and ask themselves, “Are we doing enough to ensure we’re not standing in the way of our progress?”

Deadline for Posting New FMLA Regs

163350799--gavel and calendarThe U.S. Department of Labor has set a deadline for posting the new federal Family and Medical Leave Act regulations.

The DOL issued a final rule on Feb. 6 implementing the FMLA amendments passed in 2010 and adding the new regulations, which went into effect Friday, March 8.

Those changes to a new poster you must immediately tack to your wall include (courtesy of the Atlanta-based Burr & Forman employment law firm):

  • Extended coverage for service members with serious injuries or illnesses;
  • Extended coverage for family members of service members with serious injuries or illnesses;
  • Expansion of the definition of injuries and illnesses from pre-existing conditions aggravated during active duty;
  • Expanded exigency leave to cover employees with family members in the Regular Armed Forces;
  • Clarification that the military member must be deployed to a foreign country;
  • Allowance that medical certifications can now come from healthcare providers who are not affiliated with the military;
  • Allowance for employees who are family members of deployed service members, to take leave to care for the military member’s parent who is incapable of self-care; and
  • Increased leave for employees to spend with deployed service members on short-term leave from five to 15 days.

And special note: The poster is required for all employers covered by the FMLA and must be displayed at all locations, even if there are no eligible employees. Covered employers are those with 50 or more employees. Public agencies and public and private elementary and secondary schools are also covered, regardless of the number of employees.

The DOL, on its site, issues this additional mandate: “The poster must be displayed in a conspicuous place where employees and applicants for employment can see it.”

Here is a piece that ran recently on the CNBC site for additional information about what’s required and why. This piece on the Tree Care Industry site includes links to the actual poster on the DOL’s website and a side-by-side comparison of the prior regulations and the new regulations.

Don’t say you weren’t warned!

Happiest Place on Earth, Now with More Vets

As the nation’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 8 percent, some good news today for our nation’s veterans: Disney President and CEO Bob Iger announced the new company-wide initiative to hire, train and support returning veterans called Heroes Work Here. According to a local report, the program will provide at least 1,000 career opportunities for returning U.S. veterans over the next three years.

The company said it will support military families and veterans transitioning into civilian life.  It will also launch a national public awareness campaign to encourage job opportunities for veterans.

Jobs will range from internships to leadership roles and span all segments of The Walt Disney Company worldwide.

Disney also plans to host career fairs and will participate in events showcasing job opportunities for returning military, as well as invest in non-profits that train or re-train vets.

A video announcing the program can be viewed here.

Kudos to Disney for making veterans’ hiring such a high-profile priority, and here’s hoping more high-profile companies will follow suit and cash in on the goodwill that comes with being an employer of America’s fighting men and women.

 

Obama to Push Jobs Bill for Vets

Amidst this morning’s news the economy gained an unexpectedly robust 243,000 jobs in January — thereby lowering the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent — USA Today reports President Obama is expected to unveil a jobs bill today aimed at bringing down the unemployment rate among our nation’s veterans, which currently sits at 11.1 percent:

The new so-called Veterans Jobs Corps initiative, first mentioned in the president’s State of the Union address last week, involves partnerships with the Veterans Administration and the Interior Department, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies.

The initiative aims to increase hiring of veterans in the law-enforcement, firefighting and national-parks sectors, acccording to the story:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki also announced the president will propose expanding training programs for entrepreneurially focused veterans seeking to start their own businesses. This program would include online training seminars conducted by the Small Business Administration lasting as long as eight weeks and could service as many as 10,000 veterans annually, according to administration estimates.

“Our country owes them a debt of gratitude and we must ensure that veterans who come home from Afghanistan and Iraq get the opportunities they deserve,” Shinseki said.

Enjoy your Friday!

 

Tough Stats on Young Veterans and Jobs

I guess it goes to figure that if Gen-Yers are flocking to the military, then — in a still-sour job market — Gen-Y veterans will be the most impacted when they get out and start looking for work.

That’s what two items posted Monday seem to indicate: This, from generationopportunity.org, cites data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicating joblessness among young veterans ages 18 to 24 rose to 13 percent last month and was 1 in 3 for the last quarter of 2011, up from 1 in 5 in the last quarter of 2010. That 2011 rate is double the rate of civilian peers, by the way.

And what’s the larget Gen-Y employer in the country? According to this release from Millennial Branding, which took data from 4 million Gen-Y Facebook profiles, it’s the military.

There’s a lot more information in there about millennials and their social and work behavior, along with a very cool infographic. But the military stat is what stopped me, especially in light of young veterans’ disproportionate struggles to find work. I know many organizations are working to try and turn this tide. Just Google “veterans and jobs” and you’ll see them. They include the U.S. Department of Labor, military.com, vetjobs.com, just to name three. Your organization may already be included on such a list.

Maybe just let this serve as a reminder that, if you’re not going out of your way to consider these young applicants for open jobs, you should be.

In the words of Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity, former DOL chief of staff and former chief of staff of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: “Those who made the decision to serve our nation and to defend the freedoms of all Americans are selfless individuals who, along with their families, have made sacrifices for a cause greater than themselves.

“The fact that unemployment is disproportionately high for young veterans,” he says, “should be a cause of concern for every American.”