Alison Stephens, GE
Engaging with the military is not new to GE. GE in the United States of America employs around 9000 veterans which exceeds the targets set by the US Department of State. GE's UK military initiative started in 2012 when an ex-military employe set up an affinity network for military personnel within the company. As a result of this affinity network and initiatives taken by members of this group, GE embarked on developing a structured framework for their military initiative to emulate its success in the USA.
GE's military engagement strategy is to Recruit, Retain, Support and Develop. In order to achieve this, various initiatives are used some of which are shown below:
Recruit | Retain | Develop | Support
The Outcomes & Benefits
GE was awarded the Silver Award from the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme in 2014 for their specifically developed HR policies and initiatives in supporting the reservists (SaBRE). The organisation believes the Military Veterans Network and other related initiatives have enabled the employees to engage with the organisation at a wider community level.
“the calibre of military candidates is a great benefit and GE are capitalising on their leadership skills”
Alison Stephens, GE
The support and pastoral care provided through the Military Veterans Network to ex-military employees at GE also helps retain these employees for longer. There is also the reduced recruitment costs associated with recruiting military personnel from the readily available military talent pool.
As Alison Stephens (Operations & Global Resource Manager – Engineering & Technology, GE) points out, the calibre of military candidates is a great benefit and GE are capitalising on their leadership skills.
The Costs & Challenges
The military initiatives at GE are all managed and run on a voluntary basis. There are no dedicated staff costs specifically for this. However, the volunteer time allowance received by each GE employee can be used for the military programme. Hence there is a cost element associated with the volunteer time allowance. Further basic costs include Insight Day and careers fair costs and training and travel related costs for the Junior Officer Leadership Programme.
Running the various initiatives on a voluntary basis also means that one of the greatest challenges is to ensure that employees commit their time and effort towards these initiatives. Wayne Keble (Operations Leader – Avionics, GE) identified another major challenge and says that, ‘from a strategic perspective, when we started writing the strategy and the charter, and formalised what had been happening informally before, that took a lot of effort to get that through the corporate process, to make sure that we had aligned ourselves with the way the company thought.'
GE plan to continue with their military initiatives and the Military Veterans Network. The success of these programmes has meant that more divisions within GE are showing an interest in the initiatives. For instance, the Junior Leadership Programme started in the Oil and Gas division and then moved to Aviation. Due to its successful outcomes, Healthcare division is also planning to commence this in September 2016.