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Manuscript deadline
31 December 2020

Cover image - The International Journal of Human Resource Management

The International Journal of Human Resource Management

Special Issue Editor(s)

Matt Flynn, University of Hull
[email protected]

Matt Fossey, Veterans and Families Institute, Anglia Ruskin University
[email protected]

Emma Parry, Cranfield School of Management
[email protected]

Carol Ma Hok-Ka, Singapore University of Social Sciences
[email protected]

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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 the 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)1,2, 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’3, assumptions not backed up by evidence4. 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 employers5. Employers tend to value ‘cultural fit’ with their workplaces6 and are reluctant to recruit employees who may require additional training to repurpose their skills 7. 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 roles8. 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 shift9.

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 work5,10,11. Military service can be encapsulated by the mantra of the UK MOD as ‘join well, serve well, leave well’12. Personal development plans, training and accreditation, and career advice are all ways in which military services prepare Service people for what for the vast majority is the inevitable day they are navigating the civilian job market. Many civilian employers are also 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 (for a review of HRM interventions, see13. Employers support Service leavers both for CSR reasons and in order to tap into military acquired skills14.

The objectives of this special issue are 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.

Theoretical contributions

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 effects15. Research has explored how perceptions of military status intersect with other characteristics such as age16 and gender17 and those with disabilities18. 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 another19-21 or between multiple jobs as part of a portfolio or boundaryless career. Some have suggested that the State should intervene to support mid-career job changers in the forms of lifelong learning, career advice, temporary job placements which are all reflected in European ‘Flexicurity’ welfare state interventions22,23 and even a universal basic income (UBI)24. 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 (i.e. the Armed Forces)25. Reservists undertake frequent micro transitions as they move between multiple work-related roles, as well as between these and other roles related to their family and personal lives.  In addition, Reservists are often penalised in relation to their career prospects because of their regular absences from the civilian workplace, struggle to apply their leadership and other skills learned through Reserve Service in their civilian roles and may experience identity crises due to the liminal nature of their positions.

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. How are the career choices of Service leavers different from other mid-career job changers? For example, does having access to military-provided pensions and/or health benefits provide an added layer of financial security to enable them to be more discerning of their job choices?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. 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?

The reference list can be found here: https://www.agediversity.org/ijhrm/

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Submission Instructions

The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2020. Studies using qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods are welcome. Papers should be between 7000-8000 words, inclusive of tables, references, figure captions.  If your paper is outside of these bounds and you would like advice, please contact one of the guest editors.


31 December 2020: Deadline for submissions and submissions sent to reviewers

28 February 2021: Papers shortlisted and feedback sent to submitting authors

30 June 2021: Deadline for revisions of short-listed submissions

30 September 2021: Deadline for final drafts of submissions

December 2021: Publication of special issue

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Matt Flynn or any of the other editors.

We have also set up an email group for people wh0 are interested in this special issue.  Membership of the email group is entirely voluntary and protocols will be maintained to protect the anonymity of authors who make a submission.  If you join, you are free to leave at any time.

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