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Your military employees’ deployments and emergency call-ups for big natural disasters don’t have to mean major headaches. With the right strategy and forethought, those workers’ colleagues will be able to fill any gaps left by those who are serving. The good news is, cross-training and skill-set development will not only reduce the impact felt by missing workers, they will make your whole workforce stronger. The key is being prepared.

SHARED SKILLS MEANS SHARED PURPOSE

The more employees learn about the job functions performed by other employees, the more likely they are to appreciate the work that goes into each of them.

CROSS-TRAINING MEANS EASIER COOPERATION BETWEEN TEAMS

It’s not just the relationships that will benefit when your employees start building competencies outside of their specific job requirements; productivity will too. Inefficiencies will likely be reduced as people gain a greater appreciation for the “big picture.”

PLANNING AHEAD IS PLANNING FOR SUCCESS

Everybody wins when there’s a plan in place for when your military employees are serving. Your company won't find itself scrambling to pick up the workload, and veterans will have peace of mind that someone has their back at their workplace when they get called on to serve. Here are the best ways you can all be ready:

  1. Get your military employee’s yearly schedule in advance and plan workflow accordingly. For example, a National Guard soldier will train one weekend every month (which may or may not require an adjustment by your business) and go on a training exercise for two weeks every year (typically in the summer).
  2. Train up and down—make sure every employee knows the job of the person above and below them in your organization chart. Implement job sharing, shadowing and mentoring if necessary to make sure nonveteran workers are prepared for additional responsibilities. This policy is also helpful if a nonveteran employee takes an extended leave for a personal reason.
  3. Have specific work duties assigned to other employees for cases in which workers have to be gone.
  4. Explain to nonveteran employees the nature of a veteran’s deployment, so that they fully understand and appreciate what veterans sacrifice. By supporting your service member, your company is doing its part to support the country, and, by pitching in, nonveteran employees are playing a crucial role in that effort. It also can help to emphasize that these changes in responsibilities are temporary and that the veteran will be resuming their position upon returning (as required by law).