An Organizational Guide to Leveraging Military Veteran Human Capital

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military veteran
veteran transition
veteran employment
veteran human capital
employee engagement
employee motivation
military skills
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Military veterans possess a unique set of nontechnical skills from military training and operation that transfer into the civilian workforce. If leveraged appropriately, these nontechnical skills create an economic advantage for organizations and an engaged veteran workforce. The last two decades have built a resource-rich foundation to assist veterans during their military-to-civilian transition and a clear business case that supports hiring them. Unfortunately, organizations can overlook and underutilize these nontechnical skills after veteran employees are hired and onboarded. What can organizations do to leverage the human capital of their veterans during the entire employee lifecycle? This appreciative inquiry is designed around 27 qualitative interviews with military veterans of different ranks and military branches, currently employed in the civilian workforce. Veteran interview responses across nine different industries provided a summary of their nontechnical skills to be: Creativity & Collaboration, Adaptability & Resilience, Servant Leadership, Effectiveness under Pressure, and Visibility into Diverse Work Teams. Using a thematic analysis, the responses were mapped to four organizational engagement drivers that can be measured and improved by managers and organizations: CHALLENGE, MOTIVATION, COMMUNITY, and COMMUNICATION. This paper explores the “why” behind these nontechnical skills, the “how” of what civilian organizations are doing to leverage these skills, and the “what” that can be done to improve the future of work for this demographic. This research can be used both as a tool for organizations and for the veteran community to market the transferable value of their military service.

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Submitted to the Program of Organizational Dynamics, College of Liberal and Professional Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania Advisor: Janet L. Greco, Ph.D.
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