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Honoring Vets in the Workplace: Why Benefits Make a Difference

Honoring Vets in the Workplace: Why Benefits Make a Difference
Posted on Monday, November 11, 2019 by Rae Shanahan

It’s simple to say that we honor veterans, but to truly do so calls for a focus on inclusive workplaces and recognizing that re-integrating to civilian life can be challenging for many veterans.


In 2018, over 19 million men and women in the adult population were veterans, including 4 million who served from 2001 or later. For many veterans joining the civilian workforce, one important area to navigate is benefits, since it’s often the first time they’re engaging with benefits outside of an active-duty role. Employers must be empathetic about this need for benefits literacy, and then take steps to ensure veteran employees and their families get the support they need.

The importance of benefits education and communication

For active-duty members of the military, there is no enrolling in benefits, as civilians have with Annual Enrollment. Deductibles, copays, out-of-pocket maximums and other components of benefits are not factors for those actively in the Armed Forces. That means that when veterans join your organization, it’s important to equip them with knowledge about what benefits options are available, and what they mean in practice for the employee and their family.

Multiple communication methods and touchpoints throughout the year are vital to these efforts. Brochures and informational materials upon hire are valuable, but keeping the conversation going throughout the year will help ensure that veterans re-integrating into the workforce become comfortable with benefits information. These communications can take the form of emails or texts, social media communications, and tools like an AI-powered benefits assistant so that employees have access to answers about benefits anytime, anywhere.

We’ve seen in our recent research that less than 20% of employees say they’re a “pro” with their benefits, so it’s clearly a challenge to address benefits literacy in the workforce. For veterans becoming acclimated to benefits selection, this is even more critical.

Benefits offerings to foster empathy

In our latest State of Workplace Empathy Study, we saw that family-related benefits were ranked consistently as most empathetic. Crafting an empathetic benefits offering can be particularly valuable with veteran employees and their families, who have already made significant sacrifices. It’s also important to recognize how veterans’ physical and mental health should be supported, and these considerations can inform how your organization designs benefits offerings.

Veterans bring a wealth of experience and skills to our workforce, notably leadership, the ability to handle stressful situations, and a strong team-oriented work ethic. Yet more than half of veterans find it difficult to find a job in their desired field, once their active duty is over. Employers can address any perceived skills gap with training and education programs. Just as the civilian workforce needs to be continuously learning and developing new skills, employers should apply that same framework to veterans before assuming they lack the necessary capabilities for a non-military role.  

Those in the military have made invaluable contributions to our country, and on this Veterans Day, make sure that your organization has empathetic approaches in place that welcome them to the civilian workforce.

Find out what’s the ROI on benefits communication in our infographic below.