Workplace Warrior Best Practices

The largest deployment of citizen soldiers since World War II has created a new type of employee: the “workplace warrior.”

Supporting veteran employees at every phase—as they prepare for deployment, during their military service, and as they are reintegrated into the workforce—is a top priority for UB.

Pre-Deployment

  • The service member and the service member's supervisor should consult with their unit's Human Resources liaison and University Human Resources Benefits Administration to determine the leave, compensation, health and retirement benefit details related to the employee’s deployment, as well as how dependents will be affected.
  • Discuss the job protection provisions and re-entry reporting timelines of Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA) with the service member, their supervisor and the unit's Human Resources liaison.
    • Note:  USERRA provides that returning service-members are reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service (the long-standing "escalator" principle), with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority.
  • Conduct a performance appraisal to establish a baseline for when the deployed soldier returns to work. This is essential for those who are deployed for a year and could be working for a different supervisor or manager upon their return.

During Deployment

  • Maintain communication with the employee and the employees’ family through appropriate personal contact, while respecting individual privacy.  Newsletters and emails from colleagues can help the employee and the family feel connected and cared for during deployment, which will also help prepare for a successful reintegration in the future.
  • Invite deployed employees’ families to workplace social functions, such as annual picnics and holiday parties. This outreach to the employees’ families helps retain ties and reminds co-workers and supervisors that although these individuals have been deployed, they are still employees.
  • Contact the Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) to conduct sensitivity training for supervisors and co-workers. We can provide education on how and when to ask questions, knowing that some returning employees may be reluctant to share details about their deployment or may only do so with certain individuals at certain times. 

Post-Deployment/Reintegration

  • Welcome returning employees, either with a banner, a reception or luncheon, or other recognition. Let these co-workers know that they were missed and that you are glad to have them back.
  • The service member and the service member's supervisor should consult with their unit's Human Resources liaison and University Human Resources Benefits Administration to ensure that the returning employees receive any pay raises, retirement contributions, or advancements and promotions they have earned in order to be “made whole.” The time employees were deployed should also be included in their company service as applied to seniority or retirement.
  • The service member and the service member's supervisor should review the service member's current performance program to align the job expectations for both parties, especially if the service member is reporting to a new supervisor. 
    • Remember that USERRA requires employers to provide refresher training, and any other training necessary to update a returning employee’s skills so that he or she has the ability to perform the essential tasks of the position.
    • This is also an ideal time to discuss any changes in management, policies, business practices, and reporting relationships since their deployment.
  • Returning employees with a disability, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), should be informed of the University's Reasonable Accommodation policy. Contact Accessibility Resources or EDI for assistance regarding accommodations.
  • An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) referral may be appropriate for any employee who is away from the workplace for several weeks or more due to illness, injury, extended leave, or other reasons.