Talking Point: The Disney Institute Blog

The Value of a Veteran to Your Organization

May 22, 2014 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute

This week, we remember and express our gratitude to those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Not only do these heroes play a crucial role in protecting our nation; as Veterans, they also play a valuable role in our organizations and businesses.

Disney Institute, in partnership with Heroes Work Here and The Walt Disney Company, hosted a one-day Veterans Institute workshop on November 14, 2013. More than 200 organizations, representing some of the country’s best-known brands and businesses, attended the program to learn how they can adopt best practices for attracting, hiring, and retaining Veterans in their own organizations.

During the event, Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, shared this sentiment: “Veterans deserve everything this country has to offer and deserve our help to get it.”   So, while it’s significant that we honor these individuals during Memorial Day weekend, it’s even more important to appreciate the value that Veterans bring to our communities and organizations every day.

Here are 3 tips any organization can adapt for hiring and retaining Veterans in the workplace:

1.) Be aware of how military skills translate to the private sector. Veterans bring many transferable skills and stand by an unwavering set of values that are applicable in any business environment. But, many of our Veterans have never held a civilian job so it’s the transfer of skills that they may not understand how to articulate in an interview situation. That’s where the organization can assist. For example:

  • Ask questions in a manner the Veteran can best answer, for example: “Customer service is a key component of our business model, can you tell me about a time in the military when you had a positive customer service experience, or in military language, ‘a support relationship’?” Framing the questions this way can bring to light exactly how a Veterans military skills can translate to a civilian job. Veterans are team players who are loyal, resilient, entrepreneurial and comfortable in ever-changing environments.

2.) Operationalize Veteran training. The Veteran onboarding process is particularly important, as it will establish the behavioral norms for leadership styles, personal interactions, acceptable corporate behavior, and the contrasts between the military and the company. Most importantly, a thorough Veteran onboarding program will increase the probability of retention by identifying and eliminating undesired behaviors. For example:

  • Consider tapping recent Veteran hires to assist the organization in understanding how to better integrate future Veterans into the company.
  • Tap a Veteran to facilitate an additional workshop to newly onboarded Veterans.
  • Develop resource groups consisting of newly hired and long-term Veteran employees who meet regularly and help each other transition. This setting offers a peer mentoring relationship with a natural setting to fellowship together about military experiences. The group can also tier up best practices to share with the organization regarding how to consistently improve the Veteran onboarding experience.

3.) Extend genuine care for your employees…both in the workplace and in your local community. Genuine care is essential for every individual in the workplace, but caring for the individual beyond the workplace may look differently for a Veteran.

  • Remember, a Veteran comes to your organization with a heart for service. After all, service is the core principle for all aspects of the armed forces. That is why we refer to military as our “service” men and women. From building schools in oversea locations to assisting citizens after disasters, our service men and women spend their entire military careers helping others. Likewise, an organization’s Veterans program will be more successful when the organization shows a heart for service too. An organization’s philanthropic outreach in the community where it resides is important for all employees, but it will particularly resonate with Veterans.

Tell us, does your organization have its own best practices and tips for attracting, hiring, and retaining Veterans?

Comment below, and share with our community.


Disney Institute is ready to help you apply strategic rigor to your customer experience efforts - call us at 321.939.4600 or complete our Contact Form

Posted in Employee Engagement | Tagged Bruce Jones, Veterans, Veterans Institute, Heroes Work Here, Heroes, Armed Forces, Memorial Day, Leadership, Genuine Care, Culture, Service

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