Why does it matter?


Supporting members of the Armed Forces community in your workforce is an important employment matter, especially when there are many benefits that reservists, service leavers and the wider community can bring to the NHS.

The wider Armed Forces community includes reservists and service leavers, but also their families (spouses and dependants) and individuals associated with the cadet forces. Further information about the wider community can be found in our glossary.


By opening your doors to the wider Armed Forces community, your recruitment pool increases and becomes more representative of your local community. Our evidence base report and related infographic showcase the views of employers from across the NHS combined with previous research from the private sector. Key highlights from the report include:

  • 100 per cent agreed they would recommend employing members of the Armed Forces
  • 86 per cent employers see the benefits to employing
  • 97 per cent agree the Armed Forces community bring enhanced working behaviours
  • 83 per cent agree they add additional skills to their organisation.
Employers agree that reservists and service leavers bring additional values to their organisation such as commitment and integrity alongside transferable skills that can benefit the NHS workforce. Members of the Armed Forces community join the NHS from a variety of backgrounds within the military including logistics, recruitment and IT, and this means that they can offer a diversity of experience when transitioning into non-clinical roles within the NHS. 

Members of the Armed Forces community can bring a lot to an organisation through values developed in military service. As seen in the evidence base report, 97 per cent of employers agree that members of the Armed Forces bring enhanced working behaviours, with adaptability, being calm under pressure and integrating into new teams as second nature. Organisations have also reported increased problem-solving skills, willingness to raise concerns and enhanced communication abilities.

We know that over two thirds of trusts in England employ members of the Reserve Forces and there are around 4,000 medical reservists that work in the NHS in a variety of roles. To find out more about the benefits that members of the Reserves Forces bring back to the organisation, read the proposal for employing medical reservists leaflet.

In the current NHS climate, workforce supply is high on everyone's agenda, along with skills shortages, the apprenticeship levy and the drive to connect with the local community. For many service leavers, knowing that they have a supportive employer during transition from military to civilian life is an essential part of the recruitment and application process. By demonstrating your commitment as a forces-friendly employer, you can tap into the talent pool from the Armed Forces community to help with these challenges.


In 2013 the Ministry of Defence released the white paper ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020: Valuable and Valued’, highlighting the commitment to ensuring that the UK’s Reserve Forces are correctly supported. For members of the Armed Forces community, knowing that they have the support of their employer is invaluable, and this is reflected in data we have gathered on retention. Our evidence base report shows that 51 per cent of employers have reported that at least one member of the community has been employed within their organisation for over ten years. 

Research completed by the Chartered Management Institute showed that in each year of service, a reservist will have completed around £8000 worth of training, which many find allows them to develop excellent leadership, communication and teamwork skills, and for medical staff, a chance to enhance their clinical skillset.

Should a reservist within your organisation be mobilised, support is available to employers to advise them with any financial, legal or workforce issues they may face, in addition to financial support that is offered by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Our scenario-based managers guides provide information on what mobilisation means to you as an employer and focuses on three key areas - the call up, the operational tour and return to work.

Many employers across the NHS link their work with the Armed Forces to their widening participation and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies. Not only are these crucial to recruiting talented employees, they also function as a way of creating and retaining a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Tracy Taylor, chief executive of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust said:

"As a trust we employ a number of ex-service personnel, many of whom are in management and leadership positions. We recognise and appreciate the skills and qualities that are developed through military training and actively encourage our staff to consider reservist employment.

Our reservist employees receive additional qualifications, exceptional training and unique experiences. In return, we receive a very dedicated, well trained and enthusiastic member of staff who is keen to foster team work and take on leadership responsibilities".

Sir Andrew Cash, former Chief Executive, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We are very fortunate to employ a number of professionals who are also reservists and the skills and experience they bring to their NHS role as a result of being a reservist is invaluable. Every year, reservists receive regular world-class training that helps develop their teamwork and leadership skills. They are taught to think on their feet, have exceptional organisational abilities and are able to cope under pressure… training of this quality would cost a civilian employer thousands of pounds a year to provide.”  

For more information on reservists and your responsibilities, read our key facts on employing reservists in the NHS document.


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