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From War to Workplace Strategies for the Inclusion of Veterans with Disabilities The Forum on Workplace Inclusion March 19, 2015 Judy Young Cornell University.

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Presentation on theme: "From War to Workplace Strategies for the Inclusion of Veterans with Disabilities The Forum on Workplace Inclusion March 19, 2015 Judy Young Cornell University."— Presentation transcript:

1 From War to Workplace Strategies for the Inclusion of Veterans with Disabilities The Forum on Workplace Inclusion March 19, 2015 Judy Young Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations 1

2 Presentation Overview Veterans by the numbers SHRM/Cornell research study The business case for hiring veterans Outreach, recruitment, and inclusion strategies Select recruitment resources Suggestions for practices to implement and avoid Signature disabilities: symptoms/accommodations Final notes and questions 2

3 Veterans Statistics 21.8 M veterans in U.S. population 20.2 M male and 1.6 M female 1.64 M were deployed since ,311 were wounded as of 1/27/2015 (DoD) 90% separating from service are below age 35 26% of those 25 + have at least a Bachelor’s degree Signature disabilities: PTSD (estimated (400,000), TBI (estimated 320,000), depression 349 service members committed suicide last year 3

4 Contributing Factors to Injuries and Suicide Extended tours of duty and deployments Inadequate rest time between deployments More National Guardsmen and Reservists Exposure to mortar attacks/roadside bombs Inadequate screening mechanisms resulting in under-diagnosed/under-reported injuries Impact of injury/disability may manifest after returning to civilian life 4

5 SHRM/Cornell University Study 5 Do HR professionals have the knowledge, beliefs, willingness, and practices in place to be effective in hiring, accommodating, and retaining veterans with disabilities?

6 Employer Perspectives Knowledge Gaps 31% of HR respondents did not know which laws covered veterans with disabilities 42% believed USERRA and not ADA applied 58% thought applicants must disclose disability 41% did not know of accommodation resources 73% were unfamiliar with programs and tools that support the recruitment and hiring of veterans with disabilities 6

7 Employer Perspectives Willingness and Beliefs 73% saw benefits to hiring veterans with disabilities 72% believed they perform just as well as others 61% believed that accommodating veterans with disabilities would take more of managers’ time 61% were unsure about accommodation costs 39% disagreed or strongly disagreed that workers with PTSD were more likely to be violent 7

8 Employer Perspectives Practices and Processes 77% of large and 25% of small organizations targeted veterans with disabilities in their recruitment 17% hired a veteran who disclosed a disability, 52% had not, and 31% were unsure 74% reported having EAP programs, but only 38% had one with expertise in veterans’ issues 29% had ERGs focusing on veterans; 12% had an one focused on disability issues 8

9 Employer Perspectives Hiring Concerns 9

10 Veterans’ Perspectives Almost 60% feared to disclose disability Almost half (46%) believed that their disability would pose barriers to obtaining a variety of jobs Substantially fewer (35%) thought their disability would impede their job performance Less than half (44%) were comfortable communicating accommodation needs Discrimination is feared more by those with signature disabilities than those with other types 10

11 Advantages of Hiring Veterans Ability to learn new skills and concepts Strong leadership qualities Flexibility to work in teams or independently Used to performing under pressure Proficient in latest technology Have respect for procedures and accountability Excel in and value teamwork Self discipline and strong personal integrity 11

12 Strategies for Inclusion Designate a go-to person who learns about resources, benefits, and programs Build understanding and awareness about signature disabilities Provide training on cultural competence on veteran issues Consider workplace supports: Veteran-focused ERGs Mentoring programs EAP with veteran expertise 12

13 Recruitment Strategies Participate in veteran-focused job fairs and visit relevant job boards and service organizations Use your own employees as recruiters Advertise in military publications Participate in the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) Visit Transition Assistance Programs (TAP) Develop relationships with Veterans Workforce Representatives at American Job Centers: 13

14 Outreach Strategies Consider using military language in your outreach - O*NET’s Military to Civilian Crosswalk / Veteran Affairs (VA) for VETS Military Skills Translator Develop transition-to-employment options: work experiences, internships and apprenticeships Student Veterans of America Veterans Service Organizations The Mission Continues Fellowships Operation Warfighter Registered Apprenticeship VetSuccess Coming Home to Work Program 14

15 Select Hiring Resources Wounded Warrior Program: Tip of the Arrow Foundation: Hero to Hired: Student Veterans of America Chapter Locator: group/directory group/directory Recruit Military: America’s Heroes at Work: 15

16 What HR and Supervisors Should Do Review on-boarding processes to ensure it is consistent, supportive and welcoming to veterans Engage in an inclusive approach involving employees and veterans with disabilities as stakeholders, including ERGs Encourage mentoring and provide effective supervision to ensure productivity and to maintain a culture of trust Increase awareness and understanding through access to resources and training 16

17 What HR and Supervisors Should Avoid Diagnose conditions or speculate about a disability Assume that all employees with PTSD or TBI are alike—each case is different or unique Excuse or ignore performance issues until they become too big to manage Assume the employee is “faking it” Expect that once an accommodation is in place, nothing more needs to happen; conditions may change over time 17

18 PTSD, Depression and TBI Symptoms & Accommodations Sleep disturbances Provide consistent schedule Combine short breaks into a long break for a nap Memory issues Written instructions; task reminders Electronic organizers; calendars Systematic check-ins/tracking systems 18

19 More Accommodation Options Concentration problems Break down tasks of large assignments Work environment/privacy Headphones or white noise Coping with stress Modification of work schedules Providing time for: walks or other relaxing activity during the work day; time off for therapy Assignment of a compatible peer or mentor 19

20 Accommodations That Work Example: A retired Army medic had difficulty managing stress in the workplace due to her PTSD. Her stress intolerance was intensified when she heard the emergency medical helicopter arrive and depart from the hospital where she worked as a nurse. Accommodation The nurse was reassigned to a vacant position on a unit that was far from the heli-pad. 20

21 Accommodations That Work Example: An individual with PTSD worked in a university building that was undergoing renovations. Seeing construction workers who were strangers caused the employee extreme anxiety. Accommodation: The employer instituted a check- in procedure and safety badges for all outside contractors and visitors. To relieve anxiety during the work day, the employee was also provided break time to access supports via phone and a computer monitor mirror to see people approaching her work station. 21

22 A Few Final Notes Welcoming and supporting veterans in their integration into the civilian workforce takes more than good will Developing an organizational climate that is supportive and understanding of military culture is the key Knowing the resources to recruit, hire, promote, and accommodate veterans is essential to meeting employment goals and success 22

23 And a Few More… Realizing the employee/veteran may still be on a journey to adjust to a newly acquired disability and to a return to civilian life Understanding that employment is vital for veterans’ recovery What thoughts and practices do you have? 23

24 Contact Information Judy Young Assistant Director, Training and Development Employment and Disability Institute Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations


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