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Where do veterans stand in today’s labor market? #stats

(BUSINESS NEWS) As 2016 comes to a close, with the recent observance of Veteran’s Day, how veterans have fared in the labor market provides an interesting picture of how their often untapped skills can be of benefit.

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retaining military veterans

Indeed dug into the data

When thinking about critical skills and attributes that you’re looking for in potential new hires, many employers forget to think about the host of opportunities that come by hiring a veteran of the U.S. armed forces. As 2016 comes to a close, with the recent observance of Veteran’s Day, how veterans have fared in the labor market provides an interesting picture of how their often untapped skills can be of benefit.

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Labor market stats

Composing 7.6 percent of the U.S. population according to the U.S. Census Bureau, veterans have a lower unemployment rate overall than their non-veteran peers. October unemployment rates have been lower for veterans since 2009. The recession, which caused spikes in unemployment rates for all segments of the population, caused an unemployment hike to 9.9 percent in January 2011 for veterans, which has since decreased to 4.9 percent. However, segments of the veteran population have seen variations in levels of employment rates for those seeking to join the workforce.

With overall veteran unemployment at 9.9 percent in January 2011, unemployment rates for Gulf War II veterans (those serving since September 2001) stood at 15.2 percent.

While younger workers can typically face higher levels of unemployment than their older, more skilled competitors, this outstripped the non-veteran rate, which was at 9.3 percent for this segment of the population. This has since improved. The unemployment rate for this segment of the veteran workforce is markedly lower than their non-veteran peers.

Although veterans are less likely than their non-veteran peers to have a bachelor’s degree, they outstrip them in average earnings. Veterans earn a higher median income by over $11,000 annually ($38,334 for veterans, as opposed to $27,248 for non-veterans).

Where vets have landed

Veterans typically seek employment in fields that match their military operational specialty (MOS), or which utilize the skills they were taught and used in their time in the service. Many veterans continue their service for the federal government in other capacities. Over 27 percent of the federal workforce in 2011 was composed of former service members.

As the employment needs of the civilian job market and the military do differ, several of these types of fields are predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in their employment forecast to shrink over the next several years.

High-growth labor markets, such as healthcare, have a unique opportunity to transition their supports to hire veterans. For example, in 2011, President Obama called upon Community Health Centers to make an investment of hiring 8,000 veterans over the next three years. He additionally tasked the Health Resources and Services Administration to identify career paths for veterans and expand opportunities for veterans to become physician assistants.

As was the case with overall unemployment rates, job selection varies by the era of service and the sex of the veteran. Older veterans with dates of service from 1976-2000 were more likely to be employed in roles that were primarily computer-based or mathematical in orientation than their non-veteran peers. More recent veterans tend to find roles that more closely matched their military experiences. For veteran women, many selected healthcare roles, and exceed the rates of employment of their non-veteran peers in computer-based and mathematical roles.

Hard transition

Despite having lower unemployment rates, veterans still find many obstacles in their employment paths. The Center for Talent Innovation’s survey in Indeed asked whether employees felt supported by their supervisor. Nearly 20 percent of civilian men and 15 percent of civilian women in white-collar jobs felt their supervisor was an advocate and champion for their cause. Only 2 percent of veterans in similar roles felt the same.

Beyond feeling supported by their supervisors, an astounding majority of veterans identified that their skill sets weren’t being fully utilized. 67 percent said they had three or more skills that their current employer was not asking them to use in their roles.

Resources for employers

Speaking to Business Insider, Jon Davis, a retired Marine sergeant and current hiring manager identified reasons employers should hire military veterans. “When given a proper framework and adequate training veterans can amaze you at how hard they can work and what they can get done,” said Davis. “Few cultures have been engineered like the one military veterans have been a part of and even fewer … focuses entirely on mission achievement, cooperation, and personal development. The fact is that there is no culture in the world that shapes people in the way the military does,” Davis notes.

When seeking to hire veterans, the U.S. government provides resources to the veteran for their transition. They provide financial assistance for higher education, along with enhanced re-employment services for post-9/11 veterans through the Veteran Gold Card, allowing them six months of personalized case management and additional supports at their community work center. The Department of Defense’s Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force was created to identify opportunities for veterans to earn civilian occupational credentials and licenses without the need for additional training.

Additionally, through Joining Forces, an initiative that serves the U.S. veteran through education, wellness, and employment services, multiple employers have stated their goal of hiring more than 100,000 veterans and their spouses over the next several years.

For the employer, the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, enacted in 2011, provides businesses that hire unemployed veterans with a credit of up to $5,600 per veteran. The Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities a credit of up to $9,600 per veteran.

The most important thing employers can remember when identifying opportunities for veterans to serve in civilian capacities is that these individuals have been placed into high levels of responsibility, many from a young age, and are typically mission-oriented. While their transition may require support, as is necessary for onboarding any new employee, the outcomes may pay more immediate benefits.

#HireVeterans

Roger is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds two Master's degrees, one in Education Leadership and another in Leadership Studies. In his spare time away from researching leadership retention and communication styles, he loves to watch baseball, especially the Red Sox!

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

This story was first published in November 2020.

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Business News

How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS NEWS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Age discrimination lawsuits are coming due to the pandemic – don’t add to the mess

(BUSINESS NEWS) Age discrimination is spreading despite intentions to help, and employers need to know how to proceed in this unprecedented era.

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Ageism void

Before the pandemic, age discrimination was prevalent in workplaces. The EEOC reports that in 2018, about 6 out of 10 workers aged 45 years and older say they experience discrimination on the job.

A 2015 survey found that 75% of older workers found age an obstacle in job hunting. COVID-19 made the situation much worse.

Not only do older workers deal with discrimination, but they are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the virus. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, older workers were hit the hardest by job loss during the pandemic, which is unusual during a recession. As offices reopen, employers need to be careful to avoid age discrimination in rehiring.

Lawyers expect age discrimination lawsuits to increase.

Last September, Harris Meyer published an article in the ABA Journal that predicted a “flood of age discrimination lawsuits” from the pandemic. Employers who have good intentions by keeping older employees out of the workplace to protect their health are still guilty of age discrimination.

What can employers do to avoid age discrimination?

It may be fine line between making sure you don’t discriminate based on age while offering ADA accommodations. The first thing employers should do is to know what laws apply based on their location. Some states exempt employees over 65 from returning to the workplace out of safety fears, meaning that those employees can still get unemployment. Other states are cutting benefits if employees don’t return to work, regardless of age.

There are some jurisdictions that have passed legislation about which workers have the right to be recalled. Next, review your own policies and agreements with laid off and terminated employees. You may want to consult legal counsel to make sure you’re covering your bases.

As you rehire, whether you’re bringing back former employees or hiring new team members, do not make hiring decisions based on age. Keep good documentation about your decisions to terminate certain employees. If you are citing poor performance, make sure to have a record of that. Don’t terminate older employees who have bigger salaries just because of lower sales. Monitor your words (and that of your hiring team) to avoid bias in hiring and firing.

Provide accommodations or not?

According to the SHRM, “Workers age 40 and older are protected from bias by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; however, that law doesn’t require employers to make accommodations for safety concerns.”

Still, employers can provide flexibility for workers, but it largely depends on the type of job. Reaching an accommodation for an office worker will be much easier than accommodating a sanitation worker.

Employers should assume that workers aged 40 and older can return to work. When the need for help is raised by the employee, enter negotiations for accommodations. Don’t initiate the conversation, and absolutely avoid any references to age.

Know that the environment may change as the pandemic continues to affect workers.

Be thoughtful about your hiring practices moving forward to avoid costly litigation from age discrimination.

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