How the US Military Is Revamping Talent Retention

If you think your company is too big or old to revamp talent retention strategies, let the US Military be your inspiration. The 200+ year-old government institution is losing its Millennial talent in droves. And since the military doesn’t do exit interviews, or track down information on why people choose to leave, their challenge of retaining their new hires is especially daunting. What’s even worse is there is a clear generational difference in the organization, and many senior-level leaders deny there is a problem with their talent and recruiting systems. 

Although the military won’t be adopting the culture of a Silicon Valley-like startup any time soon, they’ve created a plan to change how they treat and retain their people. Your organization should likewise consider some updates: 

  1. Promote based on merit, not a timeline. Instead of being held to a promotion timeline, officers would compete for promotion after meeting certain performance benchmarks. This gives people the proper authority to carry out their responsibilities and allows more flexibility in managing their careers. 
  2. Permit lateral moves. Policy shifts would allow personnel to switch from active and reserve components to each service. This could mean allowing officers to perform a civilian job for an extended amount of time with an option to come back later, expanding their talents’ expertise and encouraging them to stay within the service.
  3. Provide different career path options. Officers would be separated into two parallel career tracks. One is similar to the existing one, in which benchmarks and criteria are based on upward movement in a command hierarchy. The other is an enterprise track, which allows officers to explore a specific department and grow their expertise within that department.
  4. Increase diversity. Re-evaluate your talent pipeline: the Department of Defense plans to ensure a percentage of their officers’ degrees are from civilian institutions, which exposes the military students with diverse backgrounds, as well as introducing a military perspective to civilians' perspective.
  5. Change parental leave policies. Women would be given longer maternity leave–increasing the standard from 6 weeks to 18 weeks. This could also be a new standard for paternity leave. 

Takeaway: No matter how traditional your organization, there's always room for change. If you need to convince others on the team, make a case using examples from other organizations and entities that are facing similar challenges.

How Jaguar Changed Its Culture from Traditional to Flexible

How to Retain Knowledge When an Employee Leaves