5 Ways to Be a Better Military Spouse Employer from #MSEP17

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Military personnel and their spouses are an essential talent pool that are often under-recruited and under-employed. Organizations like the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) help bridge employment and career resource gaps for spouses of active, retired, and reserved military service individuals by educating employers on how to better recruit, hire, and retain military talent.

Every fall, MSEP hosts its annual meeting and induction ceremony for new partners. Last year, Windham was inducted into MSEP, joining over 350 like-minded and influential companies. As newer partners, we were looking forward to this years’ meeting held October 2-3 in Washington, D.C. to glean first-hand insights from other partners on how to continue improving workplaces for military families.

Want to strengthen your support and employment opportunities for military veterans and their families? Read though our takeaways from this year’s MSEP meeting and see what could work for you.

  1. Use inclusive terminology

The first thing that stood out was how other enduring partners refer to veterans and spouses in their organizations. Rather than using “veterans” or “military spouse,” many have started using non-biased, inclusive terms like “military talent” instead. MSEP supports all phases of military service from active duty to retirees to those on reserve duty and, of course, the spouses for each service type.

Using a broader, friendlier term feels less like a label or a checkmark on an employment form to the employee. It can encourage more people to voluntarily identify their military affiliation. Self ID has been a constant struggle for organizations and many from the military community fear that if they identify themselves then it will be held against them, rather than be an advantage for them.

  1. Educate your employees on Self ID categories

Similarly, it’s important to inform employees that National Guard service and reserve duty, as well as spouses for those service members, are considered part of the military talent community for employers. Many in the military community think the identifications only apply to active duty or retired individuals. This leaves them left out from recognition and can broaden a divide between military talent in your organization.

  1. Expand networking opportunities with Employee Resource Groups

Human resources professionals need to be aware of the potential difficulties this talent pool may face while searching for employment. Employee Resource Groups are valuable tools for an employer’s military talent to facilitate networking among military spouses. Formed around common interests and goals, these groups support and promote career advancement, mentoring, and business and community service opportunities for its members. They also recognize the contributions members are making to their employer, local communities, and national defense.

  1. Research career advancement resources and refer employees

Many states and local communities offer local career resources like coaching and mentoring to help advance residents’ careers and improve economic conditions for the community.  It’s important for employers to know what these resources are in their area and promote them to their employees. By connecting employees with these programs, employees can expand their skill sets and bring additional value to your company.

With many far-reaching initiatives, the Spouse Ambassador Networks (SAN) is one of these organizations and serves as an important bridge to the military spouse community. A committed group within MSEP, this group leverages its connections to broaden knowledge about military spouse career resources in communities where military talent live and work. Among its work, SAN promotes training and licensing portability for spouses in portable career fields. It also promotes “hot job” leads and connects job seekers to MSEP employers who are committed to hiring and retaining them.

  1. Build productive relationships with other MSEP partners

The MSEP Partner Directory simplifies this step greatly for busy human resources professionals. As enduring partners, we can assist our existing military talent in finding available employment opportunities if they want to change careers or relocate, by referring them to a fellow partner. Similarly, we can redirect applicants for whom we don’t currently have a position to fellow partners that do. And by finding other MSEP partners in our area, we can learn from each other by exchanging successful recruitment and employee engagement initiatives, as well as lessons learned.

Recognizing and supporting active duty, retired, reserve, and military spouse employees and their families is essential to growing a diverse and engaged workforce. By strengthening your company’s relationship with organizations like the Military Spouse Employment Partnership and thinking about the way you classify and recognize your military talent, you can become a more supportive and educated military spouse and service member employer.

On behalf of all of us at Windham Professionals, we thank our hardworking military talent and their families for their dedication and service.

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