A Special Veterans Day Blog: The Value of Hiring Our Veterans

For Veterans Day 2014 (November 11th), I am publishing this blog around a critical topic for our country and for our veterans – employment! This is especially important as our economy continues to struggle with available employment options often being fewer than people looking for work, and as larger number of US armed services personnel are returning to the US due to decreasing overseas deployment.

The "boots to suits" imagery is often used to depict the transfer to valuable skills gained in military experience into the commercial environment.

The “boots to suits” imagery is often used to depict the transfer to valuable skills gained in military experience into the commercial environment.

Here in North Carolina, with a high number of military bases, many veterans are choosing to return to our state after deployment or service. In NC, we have the 3rd largest concentration of active duty forces in the nation, the 6th largest military retiree population, and the military accounts for 10% of all economic activity in our state!

I am proud to participate in the NC Governor’s Working Group on Veterans, Service Members and Their Families. Part of this working group is focusing on Veteran employment with Kimberly Lindsay, Chief Human Resources Officer for the City of Jacksonville, NC leading the way as the Volunteer Director for this NC Vets initiative called “NC Works 4 Vets.”

Kimberly presents three very important aspects of fostering Veteran employment:

1) Top Strategic Leadership in Organizations needs to be involved. It is the top that sets the strategic direction and all else follows from there. Our senior leaders need to understand that hiring vets not only is the right thing to do to support those who served our country, but more importantly brings sorely needed skilled talent into our organizations. Most corporate leaders realize that recruiting the best talent builds competitive strength, and veterans bring with them a superb set of technical and interpersonal skills.

2) Human Resources then needs to take the lead to implement the strategic direction of hiring vets by executing a well planned out structure that results in excellent hiring decision of the vets that best fits their organization’s talent needs. This will include the steps of screening applicants, identifying the candidates with the best fit, coordinating interviews, checking references and assisting line management with making the best hiring decisions.

3) Veterans bringing forward skills companies need. Organizational strategic leadership and the HR leaders both need to realize, and veterans need to communicate during the process the excellent skills they have gained that companies need: communications skills, teamwork, planning and organizing, coaching / developing others, problem solving and more.

Let's not forget that an increasing number of veterans are women who are also looking for employment after their military service.

Let’s not forget that an increasing number of veterans are women who are also looking for employment after their military service.

Finding and hiring the right vets for an organization is a win – win – win: For the veterans who want to transition from serving our country to serving a company, for the company needing skilled employees and for our state and national economy!

If you are an HR or SHRM group in NC or company wanting to learn more about the NC Works 4 Vets initiative so you can become more active in promoting the hiring of our veterans, please contact Kimberly Lindsay at [email protected]

Strategic Human Resources Planning – Part 1 of 2

Investment Priorities
Too many people consider Human Resources within an enterprise as one of those necessary evils that one must have to stay out of trouble. In reality, Human Resources should be considered one of the most critical functions at the center of building competitive advantage and business success. Why? Because for most companies, expenditure on people is the single largest area of investment. (See my earlier blog on this.) And isn’t it interesting that financial executives spend so much time and energy looking at inventory turns, investment of access cash and building / land investments instead of investment in their people?

Therefore, Human Resource Management should be one of the critical core functions present at the highest levels of corporate leadership. At a Raleigh-Wake Human Resources Management Association chapter meeting I attended over a year ago, former SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) president Johnny Taylor, Jr. presented “Courageous HR” (link to blog) discussing how HR managers need to be more bold in demonstrating leadership and providing significant impact on a company’s success.

And now to kick off 2014, the Triangle Society of Human Resources Management (TSHRM) presented an excellent speaker, Molly Hegeman, VP of HR Services for CAI (link), on “Strategic Planning: A practical way to focus on what is important.” This meaty session provided a structured practical approach to HR professionals strategically planning and aligning the Human Resources function with corporate goals.
Strategic Planning Feb
Molly began with a definition of strategic planning: “a systematic process for ensuring a desired future and translating this vision into broadly defined goals and objectives along with a sequence of steps to achieve them.”

Molly’s presentation included the four steps for Strategic HR Planning:
1. Assessing the current human resources capacity of the organization – where are we?
2. Forecasting future human resources needs , which includes both the employee requirements or demand needed to achieve corporate goals as well as current supply.
3. Completing a gaps analysis which is documenting what is missing or needs to be improved on from the current state to achieve future goals.
4. Ensuring that HR strategies and execution can leverage existing capacity and develop new resources to meet requirements.

In addition, Molly summarized the important industry trends that need to be considered while doing strategic planning. These trends included:
• The impact of corporate culture on attracting and retaining employees
• Impact of the overall work climate
• The focus on differentiating, rewarding, retaining the top performers
• Truly paying for performance, for impact, contribution
• Emerging variable pay plans and flexible scheduling

Of course there was so much more in this session than can be covered in this short blog. She covered practical suggestions on how to do this and the importance of communication along the way.

In part 2, I will expand on how my two areas of expertise, diversity and career development, are central to human resource strategic planning and corporate success.

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Molly Hegeman is VP of HR Services for CAI (link). CAI is a trusted resource for HR, compliance and people development serving approximately 1,100 member companies in Eastern and Central North Carolina.