A Study of Worker Retention in 'the Great Resignation' Can Help Veterans Find Fulfilling Employment

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(Department of Defense/Delonte Harrod)

Despite fears of a global recession and mass layoffs in the American tech sector, The Great Resignation is still ongoing. Beginning in 2021, in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, employees in all sectors, especially in education, hospitality and health care, are leaving their jobs in droves, citing working conditions, poor management and new metrics of value for their working lives.

While workers aren't staying at jobs, they aren't choosing not to work, either. Workforce participation rates recovered from the pandemic long ago. This means employees aren't quitting their jobs; they're quitting their companies for better opportunities. Veterans leaving the military will have the same plethora of options, but will also face increased competition from other resignees.

It is possible for leaders to retain employees, even with so many open jobs. The Adecco Group, the world's second-largest human resources provider and temporary staffing firm, conducted a survey of 34,000 workers in 25 countries to help companies figure out what will keep skilled employees in their jobs, even as the Great Resignation continues for the foreseeable future.

It's not just a guide for leaders; it's a guide for those, like separating veterans, who are entering the civilian workforce for maybe the first time. It provides a guide for veterans to ask questions of a potential employer and determine how they are responding to the needs of their employees. Finding an employer who is addressing these concerns can help vets find long-term, sustainable and fulfilling employment when they leave the military.

1. Determine What Success Looks Like for the Employee.

This first finding has actually been a useful retention strategy for a long, long time. It tells employers to have meaningful conversations with their employees about their career goals, prospects within the company and overall career progression. A quarter of all survey respondents expressed potential for promotion, and acquiring new skills was the key to job satisfaction -- and it needs to happen more than once per year.

When interviewing at a company for potential employment, newly separated veterans might think to ask the interviewer what the company's policies for in-house promotions are, what kinds of skills they might learn and if the company offers education benefits for its employees. They also might ask if management has the kinds of conversations that can lead to advancement within the company and how often.

2. Working Conditions Matter.

The Adecco Survey found that employees are overwhelmingly willing to leave their current job if the working conditions don't meet their expectations. Seventy-four percent of respondents said their relationships with co-workers were important to their happiness at work. Seventy-two percent said that job security was an important factor, while 70% said holding the trust of management was a main driver for job satisfaction.

Adecco emphasized that all three of these factors are well within the control of management. The questions for veterans to ask in regard to workplace culture would include how quickly and efficiently management handles reports of toxic employees, how managers demonstrate trust in their employees and how easily accessible managers are to hearing concerns in these areas.

3. Employees Want Coaching.

Like holding regular career progression conversations, employee career coaching is a long-established tool for promoting retention in a company. Still, only 58% of respondents reported having access to regular career coaching and professional development.

As a military veteran who is perhaps entering the civilian workforce for the first time ever, vets should find employers who make coaching a regular part of their management style. No matter what their goals, career progression maps or job outlook might be, veterans benefit enormously from direct mentorship and career coaching after leaving the service.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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