On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany to end the Great War, also known as World War I. In 1938, November 11 became the federal holiday of Armistice Day though it had been celebrated since 1919. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to both living and deceased American veterans with the focus on thanking living veterans who served the country honorably during war or peacetime. There are currently 16.1 million living veterans who served during at least one war and 5.2 million veterans who served in peacetime. This Veterans Day, Sunday, November 11, in addition to thanking a veteran for their service, we can also think about what veterans bring to their jobs and how we can honor employees who are veterans.
In general, veterans are exemplary employees. They have self-discipline, excellent teamwork skills, great communication and problem-solving skills and most importantly, a great work ethic. They know how to adapt when working in stressful situations and can be counted on to lead and inspire others in order to complete a mission or task. Veterans will examine the situation, make a plan and are comfortable working both independently and with a team. Veterans are very mission-driven and need to know the goals to which the task is related and what will be defined as achieving success on a given mission. While in the military, veterans learn that stupid mistakes can be detrimental and in some cases deadly so they learn to pay attention to details and consider all angles before making decisions. The military also encourages learning and proper training on an ongoing basis. Training continues as members take on new roles and veterans are likely to be lifelong learners.
The military teaches service before self, which means that the organization takes precedence over individual desires. Individuals work for the good of and to improve the organization and should not seek abundant praise. They also watch out for each other and after each project, a review is conducted of whether the processes used were successful. At the same time, the military does reward milestones of success and individual accomplishments.
If your organization has veterans on staff then you already know what valued employees they can be. Veterans tend to be loyal employees and when they do leave a job, according to Military Times, 43 percent of veterans leave their first civilian job during the first year, and 80 percent leave before the end of the second year. When asked why, they often cite limited opportunities for career advancement and personal development. Veterans rarely leave a job because they were unable to do the work. They may leave a job if they do not feel they fit into the culture.
This Veterans Day is a good opportunity to honor your employee veterans with notes of appreciation. The VA Department suggests a pinning ceremony in which the company gives its vets a flag pin or military branch pin to commemorate their service. Certificates, a small gift or a handwritten note, is also a good form of recognition, especially if it builds awareness by other employees that these folks are veterans.
Veterans are like any employee; they seek appreciation and since serving one’s country is very honorable, they deserve a little extra attention this Veterans Day, for this debt we cannot repay.