The Call of Duty Endowment and Zip Recruiter recently released a study that found “underemployment affects more veteran job seekers than non-veteran job seekers. Nearly one-third of veteran job seekers are underemployed — a rate 15.6 percent higher than non-veteran job seekers.”
Yet, when they polled employers, a majority of employers reported that veterans performed “better than” or “much better than” non-veterans. The study went on to reveal that employers are more likely to view veterans as a positive asset to their companies compared to their non-veteran peers. Fifty-nine (59.1) percent of employers reported that veterans perform “better than” or “much better than” their non-veteran peers, with 37.5 percent saying they performed “about the same” as their non-veteran peers.
So, with America’s focus on honoring and welcoming Veterans into their communities and workplace, one would think underemployment would no longer be an issue for those transitioning from military service to the civilian sector.
I had the privilege of interviewing Dan Goldenberg, executive director of the Call of Duty Endowment, who not only served in the corporate sector before rolling into the exec director position but is also a Naval Academy and Harvard Business School graduate. He helped me unpack the issue on the latest issue of The Military Wire podcast.
There were a number of key points Dan made that were revealing and insightful. While the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service boasts a less than 4 percent unemployment rate for veterans, according to Dan, it doesn’t represent nor tell an accurate story. What determines the U.S. unemployment rate is the answer to one question: Last week, were you paid for work?
If you answer that question “YES,” you are counted as fully employed. Not a great measurement of employment, especially if you are working in a job that is part time or pays far less than a viable wage.
According to the study, veterans searching for jobs are more likely to be employed during their search than non-veterans — they are also more likely to leave a job in the first six months than a non-veteran. They tend to jump at the first job simply because they have a sense of responsibility and adding value — even if it’s not a good fit — and even if it means they have to work three jobs to make ends meet. But that can only last so long.
The good news is that over the course of a veteran’s entire career, veterans stay longer at their jobs — with 57 percent of veteran job seekers staying at their jobs longer than 2.5 years, compared to 42.5 percent of non-veterans.
The key is identifying “fit.” Companies hire to solve problems. Veterans are trained to solve problems — whether it be profit-problems, teamwork issues, operational processes, etc. But be sure it’s a good fit — because both of you will benefit when it is.
Dan said it best: “The leadership, initiative and creative problem-solving veterans draw from their military service has the potential to transform organizations that hire them.”
So how does this add to improved morale and profits? Data from the study revealed Veterans are 4 percent more productive than their counterparts and 3 percent more likely to stay. When you increase productivity and longevity, you add to the bottom line. While some will argue longevity has nothing to do with morale, SHRM’s latest survey suggests that 88 percent of employees reported overall satisfaction with their job.
Morale is at least satisfactory.
Bottom line: Call of Duty Endowment knows the process for hiring veterans. Whether it is personal or professional morale and finances you want to improve, you’ll gain ground when you start with clarity of purpose. Veterans have the skills, abilities and aptitude to transform organizations when they are aligned with the right “next mission.” Lastly, check out the key findings in Challenges on the Home Front: Underemployment Hits Veterans Hard by Cathy Barrera and Phillip Carter. You’ll find many answers to employment, morale and improving profits in this study.
Edmonds resident Mike Schindler is the founder and chief executive officer of Operation Military Family Cares —— a 501(c)(3) veteran service organization and technology provider that combats veteran homelessness, while working to strengthen relationships and equip communities and families for success.