ESGR supports civilian employment for service members
Hiring a new employee is a gamble. Most employers would pay a premium to have a guarantee they are hiring a responsible person who will show up and work hard. While no such guarantee exists, hiring a service member might be the next best thing. The military has high standards to ensure only quality candidates make the cut.
“South Dakota service members’ talents often times transfer over to their civilian jobs,” said Laurie Fluit, Bosslift Director at Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). “Employers know they’re getting a top-notch employee.”
ESGR is a primarily volunteer-run organization under the Department of Defense to support service members by providing resources for civilian employers. This includes an eye-opening experience for employers called Bosslift, which gives the employer behind-the-scenes access to guard and reserve operations.
Employers are allowed to observe training exercises, go inside Humvees and other equipment, and are sometimes even put through drills. “They’ll put you in a fake Humvee and turn you upside down and ask how you’ll get out,” said Fluit. “Our goal is to hopefully have the employer look at that service member differently going forward.”
Employers who attend a Bosslift leave with a better picture of the leadership skills their employee is building through their service. “The bosses find a new respect for their service member and a better understanding of everything that they go through,” said Stef Garland, ESGR Public Affairs Co-Director.
ESGR can also coordinate a smaller offshoot of Bosslift where the service member can nominate their company to be invited to a meal with their guard or reserve unit. This event provides the opportunity for employers to learn about ESGR, see the unit in action, and even handle some of their weaponry and other gear.
Another important aspect of ESGR’s mission is to recognize those employers that have consistently supported their service member employees by granting a series of ESGR awards. Nominations are submitted by service members or their spouses. The first level of award is to an individual, called the Patriot Award. From there, the awards progress to the company level with the highest, the Department of Defense Freedom Award, which is given to only fifteen companies nationwide each year. The awards program is meant to applaud the sacrifices and commitment of employers, recognizing that employer support encourages service members to continue their service.
There are businesses that give paid military leave to their service members so they can go to drill and not get short on their paycheck, and there are some companies that will take care of the spouse and children while the service member is deployed.
Businesses show their support in a range of ways. “There are businesses that give paid military leave to their service members so they can go to drill and not get short on their paycheck, and there are some companies that will take care of the spouse and children while the service member is deployed,” said Garland. “Or there are little things like just checking in on the family or sending care packages.”
For businesses who want to provide better support for their service member employees, whether existing or prospective, Fluit recommends contacting ESGR and asking to sign a Statement of Support.
“It is not a legal document, but it’s important,” said Fluit. “You can put it in a nice frame by the front door and all the people that come in will know that this is a military-friendly business. That means a lot to our service members.”
From there, employers can continue working with ESGR and schedule a 90-minute training for HR personnel on the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). This training ensures employers understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to employing a service member.
With their proven commitment to hard work, discipline and selflessness, service members make incredible employees. Employers can show respect for their employees’ sacrifices by continuing to ask themselves tough questions. What policies do you have to support service members? How do you recruit these star employees? Could you do more?
To sign your Statement of Support or get involved with ESGR, go to www.ESGR.mil and click the link for the South Dakota State Committee for contact information.