Veterans account for 6% of the U.S. workforce, or around 6 million workers. Yet one in three veterans are underemployed at jobs that fail to utilize their unique skills and experience.
Whether your business is just starting up or working to stay competitive in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s what you’ll gain from adding military veterans to your team.
Why Hire Veterans? Benefits & Challenges
Why aren't firms hiring more veterans? A variety of factors contribute to veteran underemployment and unemployment.
The challenges facing transitioning veterans include:
- Difficulty translating military skills and job titles to the civilian workforce.
- Lack of civilian degrees and credentials.
- Limited networking connections to the civilian workforce.
- High concentration of veterans in a small number of industries (e.g., defense and government administration).
- Mental health and disability stigma.
As you can see, most of a veteran's struggles revolve around accessing employment opportunities, not meeting the demands of the job. In fact, according to LinkedIn's Veteran Opportunity Report, veterans are a valuable asset to the companies that hire them.
Compared to nonveterans:
- Veterans perform at higher levels and have lower turnover on average.
- Veterans are 39% more likely to move into a leadership role within three years.
- Veterans with bachelor's degrees have 2.9x more work experience.
- Veterans are 160% more likely to have a graduate degree or higher.
Those numbers are compelling, but they're not the only reason to add veterans to your team. Not only are military veterans profoundly resilient and skilled at working under pressure, they bring fresh perspectives to an industry historically resistant to change.
Tax credits and incentives for hiring veterans
Employers that hire veterans can also take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Veterans who are unemployed, receive SNAP benefits, or have a service-related disability qualify for the WOTC. The WOTC reduces an employer's tax bill dollar-for-dollar during the first year of employment. There's no limit to the number of employees that can qualify for the tax credit.
Other programs designed to incentivize and support veteran employment include the Special Employer Incentives program, GI Bill Registered Apprenticeships and On-the-Job Training, and the HIRE Vets Medallion program.
How to Hire Military Veterans
Are you convinced that veterans are an asset to your team? Hiring military veterans is a smart move for businesses. However, recruiting this undervalued talent pool requires a careful approach.
Preparing to hire your first employees
If your company is hiring employees for the first time, start here:
- Register your business. Any business entity can hire employees, including sole proprietors. However, for liability reasons it's best to switch to a limited liability company before adding staff. Registering an LLC also gives business owners the option to be taxed as an S Corporation and avoid self-employment tax.
- Obtain an Employer Identification Number. An EIN is required to file business and payroll taxes. Business owners can apply for a free EIN at IRS.gov. Businesses also need to apply for a Tax ID with their state's Department of Revenue.
- Register as an employer with your state. The OH JFS offers a guide to obtaining an employer account number and filing quarterly tax returns.
- Complete employee paperwork including IRS Form I-9 to establish employment eligibility, Form W-4 for employee withholdings, and Form W-2 to detail earnings and taxes. Businesses must keep Form I-9 on file for three years and tax records for a minimum of six years.
- Establish a good payroll system by utilizing payroll software. It will not only pay the accurate amount to your employees, but software like this will also handle your payroll taxes and let you manage time tracking.
What to know about benefits for veterans
Veterans are entitled to certain government benefits as a result of their military service. As an employer, it can be confusing to know which benefits to offer veteran hires.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), employers are required to offer the same benefits to veteran and nonveteran employees. It's possible these benefits will overlap with military benefits such as VA Health Care and GI Bill benefits. However, military benefits aren't all-inclusive and many veterans value affordable healthcare, educational support, and other benefits appreciated by nonveteran employees.
Two benefits highly valued by military veterans are a clear path to advancement with opportunities for professional development and flexible work arrangements that help veterans balance work and family life. Flexibility is also a top priority for candidates with disabilities.
Tips for recruiting and hiring veterans
These tips will help your organization design an effective veteran recruitment and retention initiative:
- Promote your company as a military-friendly employer, participate in veteran job fairs and hiring events, and advertise openings on military job boards.
- Include veterans in the hiring process. Many hiring managers are unfamiliar with military terms and titles. Bringing veterans into the hiring committee bridges the gap and helps employers translate veteran candidates' skills and experience.
- Address misconceptions regarding military veterans among management and employees, particularly when it comes to PTSD. Make sure everyone understands the purpose and goals of a veteran hiring initiative.
- Communicate job descriptions and expectations clearly, avoiding industry jargon or generalizations. Write job descriptions that are competency-based rather than mandating years of experience.
- Avoid yes-or-no questions. Open-ended questions provide an opportunity to explore a candidate's transferable skills and experience.
- Understand your obligations under the ADA and what employers can and cannot ask regarding a veteran's disability during the hiring process.
- Provide veteran employees with onboarding, mentorship, and professional development opportunities to enhance loyalty and retention.
- Track veteran recruitment and retention metrics to evaluate and improve upon veteran employment initiatives.
America’s veterans risked life and limb serving the country. Now, it’s our turn to serve them. When you launch a veteran hiring initiative at your company, you’ll do more than support veterans and bolster your firm’s reputation. You’ll gain talented, dedicated employees that never take their eye off the mission ahead.