By Chad Storlie
The phrase “Hire a veteran” has been a staple of the U.S. economy for decades. Business leaders already realize that military veterans are hard workers, team players, ethical, driven, and technically skilled. What they DON’T realize is there are 10 hidden reasons that make every veteran a great employee and future business leader.
1. The ability to work 24-7-365 in all weather with great results.
The world of logistics, retail, food service, hospitality, manufacturing, and finance are now 24-7-365. Military veterans inherently understand the importance of working to high standards with a dual focus on quality and safety on any day and hour. This ability to work regardless of the hands on the clock or numbers on the calendar are an incredible value to an employer in a world where service, quality, and precision are now a requirement and not a differentiator.
2. They are teachers. Few if any business leaders realize their role as a teacher.
Any military member from any service and any military occupation knows that teaching peers, superiors, and subordinates is a central part of any job. Few non-military employees realize the importance of constant, hands-on, and high quality personal coaching and teaching to perfect existing skills and learn new ones.
3. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
When I was in Iraq, my planning team of officers from captains to colonels took turns burning human waste in the August heat in Baghdad. Soldiers from Africa to Iraq to Afghanistan have done the same and as a group of senior officers we were no different and had to do our share. This ability to literally get your hands “covered” is a distinct sign of military “can-do” attitude and culture that the Marines to the Coast Guard and every service in between possesses.
4. They know diversity makes great teams.
A lot of businesses and institutions espouse diversity but do not fully appreciate the strength that true racial, gender, socioeconomic, and geographic diversity brings to a team. Military members have experienced true diversity daily and produced better results because of the diversity that encompasses them daily. Businesses realize that diversity is vitally important, but military veterans know how to use diversity as a true strength.
5. They take stress with a smile.
Stress in the modern economy is becoming greater as competition grows. Customers demand more because high levels of quality service are the norm and not the exception. Military veterans know that humor, teamwork, high performance levels, and consistent quality are the best ways to perform under stress for long periods of time. Stress with a smile is a hallmark of military veteran workers.
6. They understand they must work their way up.
Every military veteran started their military career at the bottom. When military personnel transfer into a new military unit and duty station, they must relearn the ropes, learn the culture, and learn how the new team operates. Veterans understand they must come in to a new organization, learn the ropes, and demonstrate their proficiency for a new position. This understanding, that starting at the bottom does not mean that you remain at the bottom, is what makes veterans a great entry level employee.
7. They understand work-life balance for their team.
Work-life balance is never at a 50/50 balance. Work life balance swings and there are always exceptions. Military veterans understand how to maintain standards, get all the work done, and still allow soccer games to be watched, plays attended, and vacations with the family taken. All military veterans at some point in their career have missed an important family activity. Veterans can keep a strong work focus and still ensure that family and personal time happens.
8. They volunteer.
All military members know they should “never” volunteer, but military veteran employees are always the first ones to volunteer for an extra shift or to help another team member. This ability to volunteer is an inherent maturity in military veteran employees because they understand that organizations, and their employees, need to be flexible, agile, and understanding of changes because of unexpected events or new requirements.
9. They will pick up the trash.
One of the first things military organizations do in the day is walk their area of responsibility and pick up trash. I still remember picking up trash as a lieutenant colonel because everyone else was – if a private is picking up trash, then shouldn’t a lieutenant colonel? Trash pick-up also gives everyone a level of pride in their organization. Finally, as Navy carrier operations demonstrate, making everyone walk the carrier deck looking for objects that could damage aircraft creates a safer, more effective, and higher operational unit. Trash pickup is a little task that demonstrates the pride of an organization.
10. They will train their replacement.
I have worked for organizations where leaders did not train or teach their subordinates because they were worried about being replaced. In the military, leaders know that training and teaching team members to understand and excel in your responsibility is how you create new leaders and how you make your replacement better than yourself. Military veterans see training their replacement as a part of their job and not a threat to their career.
Employers should always seek to hire the best employee. Hiring a military veteran ensures that an employer gets a great employee with many hidden skills sets that will benefit the organization for years to come.
Chad Storlie is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer, author of two books, and has been published in over 200 publications. Chad is an adjunct professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management and a mid-level marketing executive. Chad has an MBA from Georgetown University.