citizen warrior

Every so often when I tell someone about my reserve status I’m met with an interesting response from them: “Really…and your job is ok with that?” My reply is that my company is pretty good about supporting my military service but that I’m also try to ensure that they are kept in the loop and that my absence is as minimum of an impact as I can possibly make it.

But that does lend itself to a good topic for discussion; are reservists valuable in the civilian enterprise?

Obviously everyone wants to be patriotic and support the troops, and the folks at ESGR will tell you most companies comply with the law and support their employees when they leave for temporary duty. There are definitely stories you hear about where employees are let go upon letting their boss know they will leave for duty or are turned down for a promotion. So why would cause that to happen? I think before we can understand that, it’s important to objective and examine the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of having a reservist who works for you.

Pro: Are they an asset?

A reservist in any of the branches brings an employer a wealth of experience and knowledge commonly not found through civilian training courses. Reserve service allows an employee to gain leadership and technical training at no cost to the company. They are familiar with the restraints of time, resource and the importance of ‘completing the mission’. A successful reservist has a good understanding of balance between all the responsibilities of life.  Service members are used to taking charge and making decisions that can seriously impact others lives. Military environments help teach a keen understanding of what it means to multitask and make sacrifices to accomplish the mission. Members learn an advanced understanding of the importance of teamwork and its impact on success. Employees can develop leadership skills and gain real management experience that directly translates to the civilian enterprise.

Con: Are they a liability?

Their absence requires additional manpower/project management by managers which can be viewed as a hassle. The laws about letting an employee who is a reservist may seem confusing and not favorable to the employer. Perception by some may be that reservist employees are away on ‘vacation’ or aren’t ‘pulling their weight’. Based on the assumption of reservist employee’s training schedule or likelihood for deployment, selection for work projects can be biased.

Most companies believe that through regular and open communication between employer and employees who serve is the key to success. Through empowering their citizen warriors, the company can better harness the employee’s unique skill sets to create a greater impact to their enterprise. In turn the employee feels valued, and supported in their service which creates loyalty.

I’d really like to hear your feedback about your experiences and opinions:

question  Do you have reservists in your enterprise?
question  What are your perceptions of them, and how are they perceived by
 others in the company?

I’d love your feedback and examples!

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