How equipment rental supports military veterans
03 November 2023
Veterans are an under-tapped labor pool for construction and adjacent industries, such as equipment rental, but many of the biggest-name companies know the benefits to be gained from employing this group of dedicated individuals. Here are some examples of what rental companies are doing to give back to this population.
Veteran’s Day is upon us, and it’s an opportune time to recognize the rental industry’s commitment to giving back to the individuals who have given so much to their respective countries.
An often-misunderstood observance, it surprises some to know Veteran’s Day is observed not just in the U.S., but also in France, Australia, Canada, and Great Britain, where they call the day of honor Remembrance Day.
Always celebrated on Nov. 11, no matter what day of the week it falls on, Veteran’s Day is meant to celebrate and honor all veterans — deceased or living. It is not to be confused with Memorial Day, a day in May centered on remembering those service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.
Interestingly, construction and adjacent industries employ a significant number of veterans. According to the latest Employment Situation of Veterans report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the share of employed veterans working in the construction industry increased to 6.5% in 2022 – the second consecutive annual increase. The share has climbed 0.6 percentage point since 2020 and is just one-tenth lower than the most recent peak reached in 2019.
Why hire veterans in rental?
Among the reasons for rental companies to consider hiring veterans are:
Veterans are adaptable and trainable: People who have worked in the armed forces are expected to learn and develop continuously as well as to be adaptable, which means they are likely to be flexible in the workplace as a veteran. Col. Dan Friend, former US Army chief of staff senior fellow at the Kellogg School of Management says, “The army is a learning organization. You start with initial training and you constantly return to training. So we end up with a group of people who, frankly, have a growth mindset.”
Lower rates of absence, higher rates of retention: A survey by accountancy firm Deloitte of 50 employers has found that 76% said veterans had lower rates of sickness absence compared to non-veteran colleagues. Meanwhile, 40% of employers said they were more likely to stay at a company longer. They were also likely to be promoted more quickly.
Strong leadership skills: A November 2022 survey of over 12,000 people for the Office for Veterans’ Affairs in the UK found that 55% considered that former services personnel would being leadership skills to the workplace (55%), as well as problem-solving (61%) and communication skills (61%).
Pre-existing training: Many veterans already have training in a range of different technical roles including engineering, project management and operating heavy machinery that are highly transferable to construction.
Reflects well on businesses: Recruiting veterans demonstrate good social responsibility on the part of employers and helps to build goodwill with customers and employees. A survey of 100 employers by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) found that 74% of employers wish to publicly support the Armed Forces.
Rental leaders support veterans
Several equipment rental companies have made employment of veterans a strategic priority. They know veterans are an under-tapped pool of labor, but they also understand the societal importance of giving opportunities to the heroes who’ve given so much of themselves to serve their country.
Here are a few examples of companies working hard to make veterans an integral part of their workforce.
United Rentals honored as 2023 VETS Indexes 5 Star Employer - United Rentals has earned the designation VETS Indexes 5 Star Employer in the 2023 VETS Indexes Employer Awards. The award recognizes the organization’s commitment to recruiting, hiring, retaining, developing and supporting veterans and the military-connected community. Nearly 10% of United Rentals employees are military veterans.
This year, a record number of 239 organizations participated in the VETS Indexes Employer Awards, more than double the 118 participants in 2022. Of those, VETS Indexes recognized 200 organizations across the following award levels: 5 Star Employer, 4 Star Employer, 3 Star Employer, and Recognized Employer.
Not every responding organization made the cut – only those that demonstrated a strong commitment to veterans, members of the National Guard and Reserves, and military spouses. Participating organizations included companies large and small, government agencies and departments, nonprofit groups, colleges and universities.
“United Rentals Inc. stands out from the pack as one of the best employers nationwide for veterans, members of the National Guard and Reserves, and military spouses,” said George Altman, managing director of VETS Indexes. “The number of organizations participating in the 2023 VETS Indexes Employer Awards more than doubled since last year – but even in this highly competitive environment, United Rentals, Inc. distinguished itself as a leader among veteran employers and should be commended.”
Craig Pintoff, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, added, “We are honored to be recognized as a VETS Indexes 5 Star Employer. We have a long-standing commitment to veteran support, and this designation speaks volumes about the team work and culture at United Rentals.”
Sunbelt Rentals recognized with three awards for its efforts to recruit and retain veterans - Sunbelt Rentals was recognized with three awards for its efforts to recruit and retain military veterans in North America and globally.
The company received the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans (HIRE Vets) Gold Medallion Award from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2022. This is the only federal award that distinguishes this accomplishment.
To achieve the 2022 Gold Level recognition in the large employer category, Sunbelt Rentals met two requirements: Hiring no fewer than 7% of veterans during the 2021 calendar year and retaining no fewer than 75% of veterans hired in 2020 for 12 months.
“We had a vision to build a multinational program geared to support the unique challenges faced by our veteran teammates and their families,” said Shane McKenzie, director, Veterans Programs, Sunbelt Rentals. “We now lead one that exceeds industry standards and is recognized internationally as better than best-in-class.”
In addition, Sunbelt Rentals has been named a top 2023 Military Friendly Employer in the nation for the third year in a row. This is the first year that the company earned the Gold Distinction, which requires an employer to score within 10% of the 10th-ranking employer in their category.
Sunbelt Rentals U.K. also recently received the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MOD) Gold Armed Forces Covenant Award.
According to the company, Sunbelt Rentals is committed to supporting veterans and providing a fulfilling workplace. Purpose-built to assist with challenges faced by the veteran population, the Sunbelt Rentals Veterans Program focuses on four pillars: resources, recruitment, recognition and retention.
The company offers veterans access to a hotline, administrative and accommodation support, and interagency coordination. Veteran Ambassadors support military employees throughout their careers and are available to guide them through the company’s resources.
EquipmentShare is an authorized SkillBridge organization - EquipmentShare is an authorized organization registered with the United States Department of Defense SkillBridge program. This program is an opportunity for service members to gain civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships or internships during the last 180 days of service.
SkillBridge connects service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences. EquipmentShare employs more than 300 veterans nationwide.
Under the SkillBrige program, sevice members can receive up to 180 days of permissive duty with approval from their unit commander. This gives them time to focus solely on full-time training with approved industry partners. These partners offer real-world training and work experience in in-demand fields of work. This time also allows partners to evaluate the service member’s suitability for the work.
Many SkillBridge authorized partners also offer pathways to training and employment to veterans, National Guard, reserve and military spouses. These programs are not supported financially by DOD but may be offered on different terms than to other groups.
Herc Rentals a ‘Military Friendly Employer’ - Military experience provides veterans with many benefits, including a sense of purpose, serving the greater good, being part of a collaborative team, putting skills to use, making a valuable contribution, as well as stability and a sense of belonging. Herc Rentals says it values these benefits as well, and aims to offer employees a similar experience.
“Herc Rentals values the types of characteristics and skills we know a career in the military provides — work ethic, leadership, flexibility, teamwork, integrity and the ability to overcome challenges and solve problems,” the company states. “We are confident these traits provide the solid foundation that, along with our commitment to training and development, will make you successful in a career at Herc Rentals.”
Herc Rentals has been recognized as a Military Friendly Employer, an honor the company says it’s committed to maintaining through a long-term focus on recruiting veterans to join our team across all areas of our business.
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