Become a forces-friendly employer

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To help you in becoming a forces-friendly employer, we have outlined five steps to help you on your journey to establishing yourself as an inclusive employer for members of the Armed Forces community.

1) Make your commitment public

Making a public commitment can motivate you to fulfil any pledges made to support members of the Armed Forces community, including service leavers & veterans, reservists and members of the wider community, attract members of the community to your organisation and help to demonstrate your overall commitment to becoming an inclusive and diverse employer. To showcase your commitment to supporting the Armed Forces community:

2) Enhance your recruitment

Enhancing your recruitment processes to ensure that all members of the Armed Forces community wishing to enter NHS employment have a fair chance of doing so will help to attract people to your organisation, increase the diversity of your recruitment pool and allows you to benefit from valuable skills within the community. To become an inclusive recruiter:

  • enable the Armed Forces Identifier on NHS Jobs
  • use the Step into Health Candidate System
  • once pledged to Step into Health, join the Step into Health Facebook group to connect with jobseekers within the Armed Forces community
  • partner with local military and reserve units and other relevant organisations to advertise opportunities
  • post on military job boards, such as RightJob or Forces Families Jobs, and attend military careers fairs
  • offer work placements and/or insight days and consider partnering with other organisations within your region to offer joint pre-employment opportunities
  • educate your recruitment managers on benefits of employing reservists and members of the Armed Forces community, and take steps to ensure that members of the community are not unfairly penalised for frequent relocations and/or sparse employment histories that may result from their association with the Armed Forces
  • have a member of the Armed Forces community on interview panels
  • allocate a mentor/buddy to candidates who need extra support
  • request feedback from candidates on your recruitment processes.

3) Create a supportive work environment

Creating a supportive work environment will help you to retain your reservist and Armed Forces employees and improve employee loyalty and productivity. To create a supportive work environment:

  • create a reservist and/or Armed Forces policy granting your reservist and Cadet Forces Adult Volunteers additional annual leave for training commitments, and consider extending the policy to cover military spouses and dependents 
  • identify an Armed Forces champion or establish a team of Armed Forces champions 
  • establish an Armed Forces staff network
  • identify members of the Armed Forces community within your organisation 
  • educate managers on their reservist employees’ commitments and the support available to employers of reservists – view our guides for more information
  • include information on Step into Health and the Armed Forces in your induction modules
  • raise awareness of the Armed Forces within your organisation by publishing information on your intranet, sharing newsletters/bulletins on the Armed Forces and inviting relevant guests to speak with colleagues
  • encourage members of the Armed Forces community to contribute to blogs, videos and FAQs.

4) Build an external network

Building a network of NHS and Armed Forces contacts will enable you to learn from and share information with other NHS organisations, build your knowledge of the Armed Forces community and enhance the support you offer your Armed Forces applicants and employees. To build your network:

Find contact details for NHS Armed Forces champions, military and reserve units and other relevant organisations on our contacts page.

5) Become an Armed Forces advocate

By becoming an Armed Forces advocate, you can ensure that members of the Armed Forces community in your local area who wish to build a successful career within the NHS are welcomed and supported  and can raise the NHS’s profile as an inclusive, forces-friendly employer. To become an advocate: 

  • support local and national Armed Forces campaigns, such as Armed Forces Week & Reservists Day, Military March and Remembrance Day
  • demonstrate your support local and national Armed Forces charities
  • advocate support of the Armed Forces community on social media 
  • follow @NHSEArmedForces on Twitter, like and share our posts
  • create an Armed Forces webpage on your organisation’s external website - see examples from Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and South, Central and West Commissioning Support unit
  • put support for the Armed Forces community on the agenda for your Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) or Integrated Care Systems (ICS) working group
  • publish a statement from your organisation’s chief executive in support of Step into Health and the Armed Forces community on your external website

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