The Best Employee Benefits for Veterans and Service Members
With Veteran's Day still fresh in mind, now is the perfect time to think about how we, as employers, can help the brave men and women who serve this country.
Last week, our Certified Military Veteran Recruiter, Tiffany Campbell, offered some excellent advice on attracting and hiring veterans and active service members. The military produces outstanding job candidates. They are disciplined, ethical team players with strong technical and organizational skills.
If you want to tap into this talent source, you'll need a total rewards package that meets the needs of veterans and those currently serving. Here's a look at some of the benefits that appeal to service members.
Best employee benefits for veterans and active service members
People who have served don't have quite the same employee profile as civilians. It's part of what makes them so attractive to employers – life in the forces teaches people how to deliver results while working under pressure.
However, this also means that people with a military background have a different set of needs and expectations. Let's take a look at the best employee benefits for veterans and service members.
Clear salary structure
Military pay is quite complex. Service members receive a basic salary topped up with multiple allowances, such as Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS).
When you're dealing with a candidate who's new to the civilian workforce, it's a good idea to talk them through your company's salary structure and clarify how they're going to be rewarded. Explain basic pay, talk them through taxes and deductions, and show them all of the opportunities to earn bonuses. You might also consider talking them through their Total Rewards statement.
Relevant onboarding processes
If you've hired someone from a military background, they'll have certain strengths and weaknesses. You'll often find that these candidates are fast learners, so you won't have to allocate as much time for technical training.
However, they may need some help acclimatizing to the civilian world. Military life is hierarchical and highly structured, which is a big difference from the more relaxed and collaborative atmosphere of a modern office. A mentoring program can help to smooth the transition. If you already have ex-service personnel on the team, you can appoint a Veteran Buddy. This essentially a mentor, but one who has experienced the transition from military to civilian life.
Employee Assistance Programs
Veterans have a higher instance of PTSD than the general population, with anywhere up to 30% of vets experiencing the condition. Rather than shy away from this, you can make veteran support a fundamental part of your employee branding.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are the most common way to deliver mental health support to your employees. Take a moment to review your current offering and ensure that it meets the needs of employees with a military background. If you don't currently have an EAP in place, you might consider establishing one. All employees benefit from a well-organized EAP, especially when so many people are struggling with Covid-related stress.
Active service members might be called up at any moment. While you're obliged to keep their job available, you're not obliged to keep paying them. However, some employers choose to keep paying some of the employee's salary during service. It usually works out in one of the following ways:
- Full salary: Employee continues to receive their regular salary, plus their pay from the military.
- Full difference: Employer pays the difference between the employee's full salary and their military pay. The employee ends up with the same net salary.
- Part difference: Employee receives part of the difference between their full salary and their military pay.
While you're not required to pay employees anything, reservist pay is an attractive benefit that appeals to those who may face a call-up.
Career development services
One great thing about the military hierarchy is that it offers a well-defined career path. In civilian life, it can take years to figure out how to achieve your career goals. That's why we spend so much time helping graduates and trainees to figure out their career plans.
Veterans and service members often benefit enormously from career planning assistance. You can help by offering benefits like coaching sessions, mentoring programs, and career clinics with an HR professional. Ideally, every employee should have a detailed career plan for the next few years. As an employer, you can help them reach their goals by investing in training and certification.
Veteran Employee Resource Group
Who better to help veterans than other veterans? You can establish an Employee Support Group (ESG) that focuses on the needs of veterans, active service personnel, and military spouses. Offer support and resources, such as funding and ringfenced meeting times, so that this group has a chance to flourish.
ESGs allow employees to support each other. They can share experiences, offer advice, help each other integrate into the broader office culture, and provide the group with a voice. If this group thrives, it can become one of the best employee benefits for veterans.
Best employee benefits for military spouses
Veterans and military personnel aren't the only ones who need support - military spouses face just as many challenges when supporting their partners. Here's how an employer can help.
Military spouse policy
Partners of active personnel often have to work around their spouse's changing schedule. They may also have to move across the country at short notice, which often means quitting their current job. But employers can help by offering things like:
- Relocation to another branch
- Flexible hours to facilitate their partner's schedule
- Remote working so that the employee can continue working after moving to another area
A military spouse policy should be flexible and compassionate. The goal of such an approach is to support the troops by supporting their partners.
+1 college support
Service members and veterans can, in some circumstances, transfer their education benefits to family members. Some employers have created the same policy for their employees. For example, Starbucks has a College Achievement Plan that provides free college to qualifying relatives of service members.
Military spouses are often trying to balance many other commitments, including childcare and caring for relatives. Any policies that can help are always welcome, including:
- Paid parental leave
- Generous paid sick leave policies
- Backup care reimbursement
- Strict ban on meetings after 5 pm
Family-friendly policies benefit every employee. For military spouses, they can make the work-life balance just that little bit easier.
If in doubt, talk to your military employees and try to learn more about their needs. For help designing the perfect benefits package, talk to an expert today.