How hiring veterans can help employers during ‘Great Resignation’

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Rob Lougee, National Employment Director

It’s no surprise that DAV has long advocated for veterans in the workplace. We know the immense value they bring and encourage employers to engage with them.

In the period of the “Great Resignation,” that advice is more relevant—and urgent—than ever.

Over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mass exodus was triggered at least in part by the COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020.

Even as the spread of the virus waned, the trend continued. By the end of March 2022, there were a record 11.5 million job openings.  That same month, 4.5 million people quit their jobs, another record-setting number.

A Pew Research Center survey published in March gives some insight into why. Among those surveyed, the top reasons for quitting were low pay, no opportunities for advancement, feeling disrespected at work, child care issues and not enough flexibility to choose when to work.

But despite the number of people quitting, the national unemployment rate ticked downward to 3.6% in March. Among the veteran population, the rate was 2.4%.

According to the Pew survey, many of those who resigned in 2021 found new jobs and, in many cases, better ones. Half or more of those workers said they were better off when it came to pay, advancement opportunities, balancing work and family, and flexibility to choose when they work.

The message is clear: Employees and job seekers have the advantage.

DAV has seen this reality firsthand at our in-person and virtual job fairs for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses. At the end of several job fairs in 2022, the numbers showed that attendees were getting multiple job offers. In one case, 222 offers were reported among 174 attendees.

Employers must be prepared to make competitive offers in a job market where employees are demanding more and being greeted with options. Can you offer higher pay or more opportunities for advancement? Can the position you’re filling work flexible hours? Does your company culture prioritize respect?

As employers navigate today’s climate, they must also consider the advantages of hiring veterans. From a bottom-line perspective, there are financial incentives, including tax credits and on-the-job training resources.

Those who serve our country also bring unique skills and experiences to the civilian workplace. Things such as leadership, work ethic, reliability, adaptability and teamwork are ingrained in military culture and invaluable assets to any employer. When employers show that they value that experience, they reap the benefits of another quality common among veterans: loyalty.

With approximately 200,000 service members separating from the military every year, the veteran pipeline is essential for talent, now more than ever. Through job fairs, education and more, DAV is here to help. Employers can find more information, tips and resources—including DAV’s veteran hiring guide—at jobs.dav.org.