Human Resources

Support Reservists: Tips for Employers

May 01, 2006
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Support Reservists: Tips for Employers

More than half of the men and women serving in the armed forces are members of the National Guard and Reserve. As employers, credit unions are vital to enabling employees who are members of the National Guard and Reserve to serve their country.

The Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, an agency within the Department of Defense, offers these suggestions for supporting employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve:

  • Learn more about the role of the National Guard and Reserve. Attend open houses andpublic functions at local military units. Talk about the National Guard and Reserve withmilitary and civilian leaders in your community. Ask your employees about their NationalGuard and Reserve duties and how they fit into the "big picture" of national defense.
  • Meet and get to know your employees' military commanders and supervisors. Ask them toprovide you with advance notice of your employees' annual military duty schedule and work outconflicts as early as possible. For an introduction, contact your local ESGR or call 800-336-4590.
  • Put your support in writing bysigning a statement ofsupport for the National Guard and Reserve.
  • Review your personnel policies to see how they accommodate and support participation inthe National Guard or Reserve. For example, do they include provisions for military leave ofabsence (exclusive of earned vacation time)? Do they ensure job opportunities and benefitsequivalent to those of other employees?
  • Recognize and publicize employees' participation in the National Guard and Reserve.
  • Accept that there may be occasional conflicts or concerns with your employment of"citizen soldiers" and their requirement to perform military duty. Seek to resolve them assoon as they arise. Discuss with your employees their service requirements before problemsarise, and keep an open dialogue to prevent them. Call your employee's military commander orsupervisor if you have a conflict.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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