Small Businesses Want to Hire Veterans, but Often Don't Know Where to Start
This quarter, the MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index surveyed small businesses about their experience in hiring and retaining veterans, as well as the challenges they face compared to non-veteran-owned small businesses.
The survey revealed some important trends about small businesses’ attitude toward hiring veterans:
- 82% of veteran-owned and 81% of non-veteran-owned small businesses say that it is important for businesses to focus more on hiring veterans.
- 56% of small businesses have participated in some activity relating to veterans. The most popular is donating to or sponsoring veteran causes.
- One in 10 small businesses has intentionally recruited military veterans in the past year.
Some small businesses report difficulty in learning how to better recruit and hire veterans:
- 49% of small businesses with 20 or more employees say it is difficult to find helpful information about hiring or retaining veterans.
- 37% of businesses with fewer than five employees say the same.
*From "Veterans in the Workplace," U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Hiring Our Heroes. Nov. 2016.
Larger Small Businesses Lead Recruitment, Hiring of Veterans
Small business owners overwhelmingly agree that hiring military veterans would be beneficial for business. But there is a gap between saying and doing, as reflected by strong support for the idea, but a low number of businesses that have actually hired/recruited veterans.
- About half (46%) of small businesses report they have hired a military veteran, but only 10% say they have intentionally recruited veterans.
- Beyond donating to veteran causes and celebrating Veteran’s Day, few small businesses report participating in other veteran-related activities or catering to the needs of veteran employees.
- About half of small businesses (45%)—particularly those with larger staffing levels (50%)—report donating to or sponsoring veteran causes.
Survey results show that larger small businesses are more likely to hire and recruit veterans. They are also more likely to use veteran-specific hiring resources and participate in veteran-related activities, such as partnering with an organization dedicated to placing veterans in the workforce, sharing job postings with military employment counselors or attending veteran job fairs or hiring events.
Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Face Familiar Challenges
Veteran-owned small businesses report similar challenges to those facing other small businesses. Chief among these concerns are the perennial challenges of securing access to capital and hiring the right talent.
The Q3 2018 survey found that access to capital was generally high across all small businesses. 23% of small businesses reported that it was hard to obtain financing, but opinions varied based on recent experience with the financing process.
According to the current survey, the top challenges veteran-owned small businesses face are:
- Securing financing or access to capital (32%). This was a greater challenge for mid-sized, veteran-owned businesses (40%) than for smaller veteran-owned businesses (30%).
- Hiring staff with the right qualifications or skillset (18%).
- Adapting to the culture or schedule of a small business (9%).
Veteran and non-veteran-owned small businesses are equal in terms of plans for staffing growth (both 29%). But veteran-owned small businesses have higher expectations toward increasing investments when compared to their counterparts.
Veteran-owned small businesses tend to have more activities focused on recruiting and hiring transitioning service members and to offer more benefits for veterans:
- 23% of veteran-owned small businesses reported intentionally recruiting military veterans in the past year. 10% of non-veteran-owned small businesses did the same.
- 59% of veteran-owned small businesses say they have hired military veterans, compared to 46% of non-veteran-owned small businesses.
- 69% of veteran-owned businesses strongly agree there should be more formal workplace trainings or programs to support veterans’ re-entrance into the workforce.
South, Manufacturing Sector Lead in Hiring Veterans
The survey also found interesting trends across regions and sectors when it comes to hiring and recruiting veterans.
- The South leads the way in hiring with 51% reporting they have hired veterans.
- Small businesses in the Northeast (38%) are least likely to have hired veterans.
Across sectors, small manufacturers are solidly ahead in hiring veterans (63%). Trailing behind, 47% in services, 44% in retail, and 39% in professional services report hiring veterans. When it comes to intentionally recruiting veterans, just 6% of those in retail report doing so, with the highest numbers reported in manufacturing and professional services (12% for both).