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31 May 2021
The International Journal of Human Resource Management
Special Issue Editor(s)
Centre for Research into the Older Workforce, University of Hull
Veterans and Families Institute, Anglia Ruskin University
Cranfield School of Management
Carol Ma Hok-Ka,
Singapore University of Social Sciences
Human Resource Management & Employing Service Leavers, Reservists and Veterans
This special issue will focus on the HRM implications in relation to the employment of military Service leavers and Reservists including HRM interventions of employers in facilitating their transitions into secure civilian work; making best use of military acquired skills; and supporting workers in reconciling civilian work and military service. People with a military background face a variety of challenges in securing and maintaining civilian employment. First, employers’ perceptions of Service leavers and Reservists can be mixed and often contrast with reality. While many of employers’ views are positive (e.g. loyalty, dedication, having integrity) (Stone et al., 2018), there are nevertheless negative stereotypes which can block Service leavers in finding meaningful work and deter employers from supporting Reservists. Chief amongst these is the assumption that military service is associated with PTSD and Service people are ‘mad, bad and sad’, assumptions not backed up by evidence (Murphy et al., 2019). Second, the transfer of skills from military service to civilian employment can be challenging as military training is not often accredited or recognised by prospective employers (Hardison et al., 2015). Employers tend to value ‘cultural fit’ with their workplaces (Bouton, 2015) and are reluctant to recruit employees who may require additional training to repurpose their skills (Fleischmann and Koster, 2018). Third, although employers say that they are flexible in supporting Reservists who are deployed, many report difficulty in keeping jobs open for long periods, and struggle to utilise the competencies that Reservists obtain as a result of their military roles (Burnett-Zeigler et al., 2011). Finally, finding civilian work is one of a number of challenges Service leavers face when transitioning out of the Armed Forces including managing health issues, supporting families and making a cultural shift (Mamon et al., 2020).
There is a growing interest both amongst military and civilian employers on ways to improve the support Service leavers and Reservists receive in securing and maintaining work. Military service can be encapsulated by the mantra of the UK MOD as ‘join well, serve well, leave well’ (MOD, 2019). Many civilian employers are developing bespoke approaches to employing Service leavers and Reservists including systematic matching of military skills with job requirements; appointing mentors; return to work programmes for reservists; and guaranteed job placements.
This special issue aims to explore:
- Employers’ perceptions of Service leavers and Reservists
- HRM interventions which can support Service leavers and Reservists in work, in particular in relation to the transition from military to civilian work either permanently or between civilian and Reservist roles.
- How military skills are matched with the needs of, and utilised by, employers
- HRM policies and practices to support employers in reconciling civilian work with armed services.
The editors of the special issue see the greatest potential for theoretical contributions around three areas of research on HRM and careers:
Intersectionality of military service with other characteristics
Intersectionality has been a useful methodological instrument for understanding how multiple forms of discrimination unfold in terms of marginalisation beyond their cumulative and respective effects (McBride et al., 2014). Research has explored how perceptions of military status intersects with other characteristics such as age (Flynn and Ball, 2020) and gender (Parry et al., 2019) and those with disabilities (Gonzalez et al., 2019). A special issue focused on Service leavers and Reservists with different backgrounds, characteristics and experiences can show how multiple forms of discrimination create unique sets of barriers faced by those leaving the Armed Forces, or balancing it with other civilian careers.
Reconciling military life with civilian employment
Service leavers provide a rich source of experiences to show the relationship between structure and agency. Although they are all facing the same major turning point (a transition out of military service into civilian work), they have a range of experiences in managing the career transition process with other cultural, family, health related and age-graded trajectories. Further, Reservists have ongoing experience reconciling military service and civilian life across the life course.
Macro and micro career transitions, and employer support for mid-career job changers and Reservists
There is a growing interest in academic, HRM and policy communities about how workers are able to manage their careers and make successful job transitions from one employer to another or between multiple jobs as part of a portfolio or boundaryless career. A focus on Service leavers can provide insight into career change since Service leavers are not only workers making a major career change, but also receive substantial support from the employer from which they are departing (Ashcroft, 2014). Additionally, Reservists provide a good platform by which to investigate boundaryless careers that are multi-faceted and involve the maintenance of career paths and identity across two or more, sometimes very different, roles.
Questions for consideration
These are only examples of possible questions–submissions that address other issues related to HRM and Service leavers, Reservists and veterans will be welcomed.
- To what extent and how do employers value the skills, knowledge and experiences of Service leavers and Reservists? What is the ‘business case’ for employers to support Service leavers into jobs which they value or to support Reservists in managing their dual careers? What are the implications of employing military veterans or Reservists for talent management, for example?
- To what extent are Armed Forces around the world equipping Service leavers with the technical, managerial and employability skills which they need to secure work which they value?
- How does the ‘veteran’ identity intersect with other aspects of identity such as gender, ethnicity or age? Do Service leavers and Reservists in particular demographic groups have specific challenges or experiences in civilian employment? What can we learn from this group in relation to broader diversity or intersectionality issues?
- How and when do Service people start to plan their civilian careers while in military service? Do their experiences suggest that workers think long term about their careers? How can they be best supported with this planning process?
- How are the career choices of Service leavers different from other mid-career job changers?
- To what extent are Service leavers and Reservists equipped with skills, knowledge and experience which prospective employers need? Are Service people making rational choices in terms of upskilling, experience and career planning which lead to work which they value once they become civilians? How can HRM professionals support them in developing these skills?
- What are the implications of Reserve Service for work-life balance, career progression and identity development? How can employers best support Reservists in balancing these different facets of their careers (and broader lives) and managing the frequent micro-transitions between roles?
- How can employers provide support for Reservists who are re-entering civilian employment after a period of military deployment? What additional support is needed, in relation to adjustment or mental health for example, in these scenarios?
- How do approaches to managing Service leavers and Reservists differ across countries? What are the macro level drivers and organisational and individual level outcomes of such differences in approach?
- ASHCROFT, M. 2014. The Veterans' Transition Review, London, Biteback Publishing.
- BOUTON, K. 2015. Recruiting for cultural fit. Harvard Business Review,
- BURNETT-ZEIGLER, I., VALENSTEIN, M., ILGEN, M., BLOW, A. J., GORMAN, L. A. & ZIVIN, K. 2011. Civilian Employment Among Recently Returning Afghanistan and Iraq National Guard Veterans. Military Medicine, 176, 639-646.
- FLEISCHMANN, M. & KOSTER, F. 2018. Older workers and employer-provided training in the Netherlands: a vignette study. Ageing & Society, 38, 1995-2018.
- FLYNN, M. & BALL, C. 2020. The Challenges and Barriers Faced by Servicemen and Women Seeking Employment Upon Leaving the UK Armed Forces Aged 50 or Over, Cambridge, FIMT.
- GONZALEZ, K., TILLMAN, C. J. & HOLMES, J. J. 2019. Coming home: Why veterans with disabilities withhold workplace accommodation requests. Human Relations,
- HARDISON, C. M., SHANLEY, M. G., SAAVEDRA, A. R., CROWLEY, J. C., WONG, J. P. & STEINBERG, P. S. 2015. Translating Veterans' Training into Civilian Job Skills, Santa Monica, Rand Corporation.
- MAMON, D., SCOGLIO, A. A. J., CALIXTE, R. M., TUVAL-MASHIACH, R., PATTON, B. & DREBING, C. E. 2020. Connecting Veterans and Their Community Through Narrative: Pilot Data on a Community Strengthening Intervention. Community Mental Health Journal, 56, 804-813.
- MCBRIDE, A., HEBSON, G. & HOLGATE, J. 2014. Intersectionality – Are we taking enough notice in the field of work and employment relations? Work, Employment and Society, 29, 331-341.
- MOD 2019. Defence support services – based around Defence People Mental Health and Well-being Strategy 2017-2022 – Join well, Serve well, Leave well, London, MOD.
- MURPHY, D., ASHWICK, R., PALMER, E. & BUSUTTIL, W. 2019. Describing the profile of a population of UK veterans seeking support for mental health difficulties. Journal of Mental Health, 28, 654-661.
- PARRY, E., BATTISTA, V., WILLIAMS, M., ROBINSON, D. & TAKALA, H. 2019. Female Service Leavers and Employment, Cambridge, FIMT.
- STONE, C. B., LENGNICK-HALL, M. & MULDOON, J. 2018. Do stereotypes of veterans affect chances of employment? The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 21, 1, 1-33.
Looking to Publish your Research?
We aim to make publishing with Taylor & Francis a rewarding experience for all our authors. Please visit our Author Services website for more information and guidance, and do contact us if there is anything we can help with!
The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2021. In line with IJHRM guidelines, submissions should be 7000-8000 words. Qualitative, quantitative, mixed and alternative methodology submissions are welcome.
June 2020: Call for papers issued
31 May 2021: Deadline for submissions and submissions sent to reviewers
31 August 2021: Papers shortlisted and feedback sent to submitting authors
30 November 2021: Deadline for revisions of short-listed submissions
28 February 2022: Deadline for final drafts of submissions
May 2022: Publication of special issue
Veterans and HRM Network
In order to bring together academics from a variety of disciplines, the editors have set up a ‘community of practice’ of people who are interested in the topics of veterans and HRM. The network is intended to:
- Keep participants updated on the special issue, including deadlines and milestones
- Provide authors the chance to receive support from colleagues in the development of their manuscripts
- Provide a venue for sharing ideas, information, and research outputs through webinars, seminars, and discussion groups
- Facilitate the collaboration of colleagues across disciplines to collaborate
- Ensure the sustainability of the research network beyond the publication of the special issue.
- You do not need to be a member of the network in order to make a submission to the special issue.
- You do not need to make a submission to the special issue in order to be a member of the network.
- You can join or leave the network at any time.
- By agreeing to join the network, you agree to receive emails from the group. You can opt out at any time.
- Protocols will be maintained to ensure the integrity of the special issue’s review process.
To join the network and find out more information about the special issue, click here: https://www.agediversity.org/ijhrm/
Any questions about the special issue and/or network can be directed to any of the guest editors.
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