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23 February 2018 | By Ian Rand Community

The business case for hiring veterans

Have you thought about hiring a military veteran? Why not? Barclays has set out to challenge the misconceptions

At Barclays we support over a million businesses across the UK, and they often raise the same challenges. Many of them are struggling to find the right people. Others are worried that their staff are struggling to adapt to the changes in their industry, making them less agile than they want to be. We’ve learned that military leavers have a huge amount to offer in solving these challenges.

All too often, however, employers are missing a trick by overlooking the transferrable skills ex-military personnel have – skills which could add real value to their business. At a time when there is a growing economic need to improve the productivity of the UK workforce, businesses simply cannot afford to overlook this impressive talent pool.

Yet some of the research we have done in the area of veteran employment shows that fewer than half of hiring managers would look favourably at military experience on a CV.

Challenging misconceptions

Seeking to challenge misconceptions that military experience isn’t relevant in the commercial world, we recently conducted a unique experiment which saw veterans undertake a series of game-based psychometric tests in order to assess them against key performance traits in the workplace.

The results of the research provided tangible evidence of what we’ve been witnessing first-hand for years at Barclays: that veterans have exactly the right skills and culture to add real value to our workforce. Veterans out-performed their civilian peers across a number of key areas, scoring highly for social influence, creativity, rational decision making, emotional resilience and dealing with ambiguity.

In the study, military leavers proved to have twice as much potential as civilian workers in demonstrating board-level leadership and developing innovative solutions to problems. What’s more, one in five also scored at the top end of creative thinking, compared to just 16 per cent of civilians. This combined with the fact that veterans are less than half as likely to need rigid structure in the workplace highlights the powerful role they can play in a team.

The research also identified emotional stability as a key area of strength, with just 9 per cent of veterans falling within the lower potential range during the assessment, compared with 16 per cent of the civilian workforce. For me, this is one of the most powerful findings of the experiment, as our previous research has shown that a third of veterans feel that perceptions around mental health issues relating to time served in the armed forces, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), are detrimental to their career progression in the civilian job market.

Recognising the potential

For businesses, the strength and depth of the skills that veterans have needs to be finally recognised as the real asset it is. At Barclays, we’ve recently hired our 500th veteran into a full-time role within the bank and we have seen collectively how their skills and culture have had a positive impact.

We strongly believe in encouraging other businesses to do the same; not just because it helps veterans to find rewarding, meaningful employment, but because it adds real value to UK businesses at a time when they need it most. It’s because of this that we helped set up the VETS (Veteran Employment Transition Service) project, which allows veterans to connect with mentors from business, attend ready to work initiatives and apply for veteran targeted jobs in a wide range of industries.

Above all, what strikes me is the potential to strengthen the understanding business leaders have about the military. By giving service leaders the right support, we can make the most of this top pool of talented individuals and embrace the transferrable skills and experiences ex-military men and women can bring to their new employers.

Our world is changing more rapidly than ever before, and no business or industry is immune.  In this environment some of the skills trained into military personnel come to the fore.  They are trained to deal with ambiguity, to make decisions rapidly when not all the facts are available, and to be resilient to the impact of constant change.  Every business can benefit from these skills.

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