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Military Spouses: America’s Secret Weapon

How businesses across the country profit by hiring these extraordinarily strong people.

By Chad Storlie

Military spouses offer an incredible value as an employee for any type of business. A skeptic might first say, why? Don’t military spouses move every two to three years, have erratic schedules, have varying levels of education, and, at times, their business experience is limited? Perhaps. But these are the exact qualities that make them ideal employees.

Military spouses create value for business, so redesign your positions. Instead of thinking how to fit military spouses into your traditional organization structure, undertake a full or partial redesign of your positions. Airbnb, Uber, Lyft and others have taught us that workers of all generations view work flexibility as a primary requirement for either full- or part-time employment. The familiar concepts of a traditional workplace are fading fast. Instead of bemoaning the change happening in all businesses, use it to your advantage.

Create positions ranging from full- to quarter-time to a sabbatical. The benefits of this flexible structure are that it will allow you to fully maximize military spouse time from three-quarter time (military spouse on deployment) to sabbatical (military spouse returned from deployment).

Make the best use of technology. Technology in the case of high-speed internet, PCs, standard software, and video conferencing make military spouses appear next door to your customers, not across the globe. Additionally, this technology has improved rapidly, it produces great results, and it’s not cost-prohibitive.

Your flexibility and creativity alone in compensation will guarantee you a very qualified applicant pool and workforce.

For training, you can use technology or you can take advantage of the geographic concentration of military spouses and give training around major military bases. Over time, you can create a cadre of spouse trainers and technical support on each major base to further improve the use of technology.

Don’t overlook the guard and reserves. Some positions cannot be redesigned to work remotely, and this is where military spouses of the Guard and Reserve come into value. Military spouses in the Guard and Reserves are members of the community and have more “traditional” schedules that make them available for full- or part-time work. In addition, most tend to be more geographically stable than other military spouses.

Finally, these spouses represent a great way to create strong word of mouth and social media buzz for your business.

Be creative with compensation. For active military spouses and some Guard and Reserve spouses, their military spouses already have health care and other forms of benefits. Do not use the “one size fits all” compensation structure. Instead, you can offer a mixed range of financial, health care, and retirement benefits.

Some spouses may only want financial compensation, while others will want the full range of compensation packages. This flexibility and creativity alone in compensation will guarantee you a very qualified applicant pool and workforce.

Leverage their personal backgrounds. The only thing typical about military spouses is that there is nothing typical about military spouses. Educational backgrounds range from high school graduates to PhDs in various disciplines. Military spouses will also have a wide range of experience working in business as well as stints of entrepreneurship.

The summation for this class of employees is an educated, experienced, and motivated group. The question for a business is, how do I take advantage of all these skill sets? Can military spouses with entrepreneurship help me start a new business? Can a military spouse who is a lawyer in Japan perform overnight contract work so draft contracts take days to complete instead of weeks?

Can a socially connected military spouse be a member of my sales team? These ideas are only a few on how military spouse backgrounds can be leveraged to your organization’s advantage.

Engage their purpose. Delivering work that is filled with purpose is one of the greatest challenges for a business. A business that can create a purpose-driven business model and workforce has incredible business and social value. The creation of a strong sense of purpose is vital to fully engage military spouses. An engaged workforce is more productive and creative, and it creates greater business value.

Military spouses are an incredible value for business when the business looks to fully benefit from the wide range of skills, abilities, and knowledge base that military spouses possess.

Chad Storlie is a retired lieutenant colonel with 20-plus years of active and reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the U.S. and was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. This OpsLens article is used by permission from the author.

Additional Info

  • Issue: 12
  • Volume: 3
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