How to onboard ex-military employees

Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 by Faye CoppNo comments

Successful onboarding is much more than welcoming a new employee with an induction and a meet and greet on their first day. An effective onboarding process will help new employees to settle into the business, which will in-turn improve job performance and employee retention. This process is particularly important for Service leavers, as it can take a little while to adjust. If this is their first job outside the military, it will be a huge transition for them.

We have put together 5 top tips to create the best onboarding experience for ex-military employees:


Unless they’ve had other civilian jobs since leaving the Armed Forces, most ex-military people are unfamiliar with the culture, structure and language of ‘civvy’ organisations. So time spent in the first 100 days to help them navigate an unfamiliar workplace, learn the language - and your acronyms - and realign their transferable military skills will help them succeed more quickly.

  • A new employee’s first day and week is a significant part of the onboarding process and an important first impression. But we recommend starting the induction process before the employees first day. Have an informal meeting to discuss the role and the day-to-day responsibilities before they officially start. Remember for some, they will be walking straight into this role from the military and they will be handling a huge amount of change - both personally and professionally - so any support you can give them will be beneficial.

  • Give an overview of the company’s history, culture, goals and objectives for the future - and how the new employee will help shape these goals. 

  • If you have an internal military network or other employees who are ex-military, introduce them early on. Perhaps they handle the induction and meet and greets?


Development, progression and promotion are key features of military life and will have been instilled in the psyche of ex-military employees. Many will find the responsibility of managing their own careers and personal development daunting and unfamiliar. So providing clear progression routes, training opportunities and promotion opportunities will be important to manage your ex-military employees expectations. 

  • Explain the full scope of benefits, career progression and development opportunities, and personal support available to them from the offset. Military candidates are used to a very structured career path with continuous learning programmes, so it is important to be explicit about the opportunities to progress within the organisation.

  • Review performance objectives and set individual goals. It is important for any employee to know whether they have done something exceptional - or equally, needs training or constructive criticism, so continue to give feedback and offer performance reviews. 

  • Have set performance reviews throughout the first 100 days to track the progress of the new employee and find out how they are settling into the organisation.   


The creation of an internal military network as a forum for networking and information sharing is a great way to support ex-military employees within your business. This type of forum is a great way to connect with veteran, reservist and military spouse employees. Many companies like HSBC, Alstom and IBM use their internal networks as the foundation of their Armed Forces or ‘veterans’ programmes.

  • Use this military network as a platform for sharing best practice, detailed case studies, and information on how to practically implement programmes with other employers. We recommend you also use it as a way to share your commitment to the Armed Forces Community, share any meet-ups, charity events or plans to celebrate Armed Forces events throughout the year. Discover more top tips on how to create an internal network here.

  • Make sure your network is inclusive to prevent it from becoming cliquey and hierarchical. Read our employer spotlight with Phoenix Group who have a successful internal military network.


Many businesses who have an Armed Forces friendly recruitment programme have a buddying or mentoring scheme to help new employees transition into their new role successfully. 

  • Buddy up the new employee, if possible, with an employee with an Armed Forces background - or a long serving member of staff.

  • Mentors do not need to have had military experience, but the mentor should be there to help employees settle into their new work environment and help with future career development, so must have knowledge of military skills and experience. 

  • A mentor can be an effective source of advice and encouragement and can further help with retention.


Having an established and successful onboarding process is significant so make sure you continue to get feedback from new employees so you can adapt and change your process if required.

  • Get the new employee to provide feedback on the induction, the first week and over the next six months, whether that be in questionnaire form, written feedback or speaking to their mentor. This is a simple and efficient way to look at your onboarding policies throughout the process to see when and how progress is made.

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