Why appointing a veterans' champion makes great business sense

APPOINTING a veterans’ champion to lead their service leavers’ recruitment programme can be one of the best moves a forces-friendly business can make.

The initiative involves encouraging a senior business leader to champion veterans and lead the planning and implementation of their programme to ensure service leavers are not being disadvantaged through the company’s recruitment and selection process.

Mainstream recruitment practices can exclude ex-military

Companies should be aware that mainstream recruitment practices can inadvertently exclude people with a military background, usually by asking for industry-specific experience or training courses. To recruit the right candidates successfully, you might need to adapt your recruitment and selection processes or offer flexible employment contracts.

Creating clear, transparent job descriptions and advertisements and recognising the soft skills service leavers bring, as well as learning to translate acquired military skills into commercial language, can streamline the process for both sides.

Showcase your veterans' champion

Make sure the designated champion is showcased on your company’s website and is a vital part of running the internal military network. It is not necessary to select a military employee with recruiting or training experience – a suitably empowered project manager who knows the business will be just as beneficial.

The veterans’ champion should ensure policies and procedures do not disadvantage veterans or their families. They can work both internally to educated HR and management personnel on any unseen barriers that exclude veterans from accessing the workplace and externally to support veterans’ transition into the local community.

Companies who already employ veterans can ask their ex-forces employees about how the company could have supported them better during the recruitment process, and whether they have any suggestions about what could help them now.

The veterans’ champion should be carefully chosen to be approachable and willing to think outside the box. They should have a combination of business acumen and knowledge of the military, or a willingness to learn about the unique skills and challenges of the Armed Forces.

Advice on how to establish a veterans’ programme is readily available from groups including SaluteMyJob and the Career Transition Partnership.

The appointment of a veterans’ champion will allow businesses to ease the transition into civilian employment for ex-forces personnel, allowing companies to benefit from the wide-ranging skills and loyalty of service leavers.

Savills benefiting from veterans & reservists

International real estate firm Savills employs more than 20 veterans and reservists in various roles across the company, including UK Human Resources Director, Noel McGonigle. He served in the Royal Air Force Regiment for 22 years, from 1978 to 2001 and cites leadership, strategic thinking, team work, risk-taking, decision-making and the concept of mission command as successful imports from his military service to his civilian career.

“We have 22 veterans and reservists employed within Savills in a number of roles.  I am the most senior veteran and we also have veterans and reservists in a number of client facing roles at all levels including four directors.  The roles cover divisions including Residential, Commercial, Planning, Rural and HR.

“We have a policy of interviewing all veterans and reservists that apply for roles in the company, plus we advertise our roles on the Career Transition Partnership.

“The service leavers we employ bring a variety of skills to our business including strong managerial skills and ability, proven team leadership, exceptional ability to delegate, motivate and communicate, problem solving, great organisational skills, attention to detail, working well under pressure and a strong work ethic.

 “I would encourage all employers to hire veterans and reservists and see what they have been missing. I am sure they won’t be disappointed.

Demonstrate your commitment through the Armed Forces Covenant

Another company championing the employment of veterans is Wiltshire-based Waves Training Solutions, which holds the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Employment Recognition Scheme gold award, the highest recognition for employer support to the Armed Forces.

Waves, an innovative learning and organisational development consultancy in Wiltshire, has demonstrated proactive support and advocacy for the Armed Forces in many ways. All members of the Waves team have either served in the military or have a military connection. The team includes veterans, military spouses and Reservists and they all advocate for the value of military skills in the workplace among their business partners through their events and external communications.

Waves strategic growth director, Lou Whiting, is an Army veteran who served for 16 years. She said: “I am a huge advocate of employing military connected personnel; the humour, ethos and commitment they bring is unique and underpins our quality.  Everyone in our team has contributed to the achievement of this prestigious award, which I believe, reflects the strong sense of Service that is at the core of our company culture and people.”

Waves marketing associate Lucy Beaumont is a Royal Artillery veteran, war pensioner after a medical discharge from the Army and an army spouse.

She explained how Waves supports the ex-forces community an effective business decision. 

‘‘All those employed at Waves Training Solutions Ltd are veterans (and remain part of the wider Armed Forces community).  Any size of organisation can and should appoint a veteran’s champion.  By becoming a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant your commitment to the Armed Forces community, including veterans, will be a rewarding decision.  

“Advertising that you welcome members of the ex-forces community and the unique and transferable skill-set they offer, their can-do attitude and ability to adapt increases your recruitment base enormously.   Regardless of industry area you will be gaining enthusiastic individuals with a strong sense of team spirit, leadership skills, respect and who are hard-working."

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Waves Training Solutions Ltd's Strategic Growth Director Lou Whiting (centre) receives the prestigious
Defence Employer Recognition Scheme gold award from HRH Prince William alongside (from left)
Lucy Beaumont, quality assurance manager Emily Hewitt and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.