4 Business-Smart Reasons To Hire Military Veterans

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February 16, 2016
By Paul Batz
From BizJournals.com

Are you in a position to employ a U.S. military veteran? Then consider doing so. It’s not just a patriotic act — it’s a smart and savvy business strategy.

But you better act fast, based on recent veteran hiring trends.

In late 2015, the unemployment rate for veterans dropped to a seven-year low, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reversing a disturbing trend. In 2011, there were more than 1 million U.S. veterans looking for work. Today, that figure has been more than cut in half, thanks to a concerted effort by federal officials and employers to make veteran hiring a major focus.

In 2012, senior executives at U.S. Bank, the nation’s fifth-largest commercial bank, created the “Proud to Serve” initiative, focused on hiring andimage of veterans parade supporting service members and their families. U.S Bank committed to hiring 1,000 service members and veterans in two years — a goal it easily achieved.

Mike Ott, president of the Private Client Reserve division of U.S. Bank, and a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, explained why he helped create the bank’s “Proud to Serve” program, and why service members and veterans make such great employees.

“Veterans have exactly what U.S. Bank needs, including strong leadership abilities, demonstrated teamwork skills and experience working with new technologies and with people from all walks of life,” Ott said. “Most of all, veterans bring to work a can-do attitude and sense of mission.”

Ott, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, knows firsthand how the qualities of military training translate to business. “The essence of wealth management is collaboration,” he said. “Clients deserve to feel we’re prepared for anything. I build teams of people who have skills and experience, but who also relate well to others.”

In 2013, U.S. Bank received the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. Fewer than 250 companies nationally have earned the Freedom Award since its inception 20 years ago. And the momentum continues today.

Reasons to Hire Veterans

Among many reasons to consider hiring veterans for your organization, here are four:

1. Team player mentality

Throughout all the military branches, a team commitment is an ingrained necessity. That “service to others” mindset is why veterans work well with others, and why we revere them for their patriotism. “We are humbled and deeply grateful for the service and sacrifice of our military families,” said Richard Davis, CEO of U.S. Bank, in accepting the Freedom Award.

2. Innate leadership ability

At a young age, members of the military are frequently entrusted to oversee millions of dollars of equipment and priceless personnel. “In the academy, you really learn to work with a broad mosaic of people from different domains,” Ott said. “We also were taught to be comfortable with ambiguity. It teaches you to be agile and to adapt.”

3. A “get-it-done” attitude

Daily, members of the military are asked to get things done within proscribed amounts of time. That sense of focus and urgency come in handy in businesses of all types. “A saying I use that harks back to the Air Force is ‘high speed, low drag,’” Ott said. “Let’s get stuff done – don’t hurry, but move quickly.”

4. A commitment to hard work

When deployed, military members work every day, without fail, which becomes a lifetime work ethic. “I remind my team that we always want to be looking over the horizon, but we’d also better be in the thick of it today if we’re going to generate the results our clients deserve,” Ott said.

Good leaders recognize the intrinsic qualities and values of leaders from all walks of life. That specifically includes service members and veterans, who bring to the workplace a strong and loyal commitment to improve business results.

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