As responsible organisations operating in the UK, I suggest it is a ‘no-brainer’ for us to offer all the support we can to our reservists and veterans.
I’d like to see more companies sign up to the Armed Forces’ Corporate Covenant. One of the main features of the Covenant is that it entitles reservist to ten days paid leave per annum to carry out training. It’s incredibly important that employees feel comfortable at work and part of this is making sure that they’re able to discuss the demands of their training with their manager and their HR team – support is essential.
Reservist champions in the workplace can also help. They offer a central point of contact for other employees that serve as reservists helping to foster a community – whether it’s through an intranet, an online portal or other projects to keep in touch and share experiences and stories.
I also think open days at various company sites can help raise awareness of recruitment by getting the message across to employees that the reserves are fun and that they can join.
So why do I think this is so important? The UK’s Armed Forces are central to our view of ourselves as a nation and our place in the world and in recent years Reservists have played an increasingly important role in our armed forces. On ‘civvy street’ many of us might never know that a colleague is a Reservist, but they bring skills and training to a business that are highly valued by employers.
At HP we hold in high esteem those individuals who volunteer and give up their spare time to serve in the active-duty reservist force, balancing their training and service commitments with their day jobs.
In my experience the armed forces provide a mine of opportunity. Very few places or programmes equip participants as well as the Reserves. Many who volunteer finish their training with an exceptional array of skills and a strong mind-set which translates superbly into civilian life.
Though employers do need to commit to helping these individuals as they negotiate between civilian life and serving their country – often leaving for training or on active deployments – it is surely worth doing so. Reservists I have come across have often developed attributes that we as employers rate highly; organisational skills, reliability and problem solving and an approach to issues that reflect a steely determination. These skills are absolutely transferable between these two distinct worlds.
I was recently delighted to hear that HP had been selected for a Gold Level Award under the Ministry of Defence’s new Employer Recognition Scheme. I was proud to attend a reception in advance of its presentation alongside Debbie Scott, HP’s Reservists Champion and part of the Royal Naval Reserve in person from the Prime Minister.
Veterans and members of the Reserves need to be fully appreciated for their services to their country and we call on all employers to join us in recognising their valuable contribution to the UK and to help give back to this wonderful, selfless community.
Stuart Bladen is Regional Vice President and General Manager for UK Public Sector, Hewlett-Packard Company. Stuart is accountable for all of HP’s UK Public Sector Business, which includes Defence, Benefits and Tax, Communities, and Home and Foreign Affairs. Stuart has been with HP for seven years and has 30 years’ senior-level experience in large scale systems, technology and consulting.