Employers Rate Challenges of Employees Serving Military Duty

August 10, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) poll found that uncertainty about the length of time employees will be away from the job, while they serve in the National Guard or Army Reserve, is the top concern for employers whose workers are on active duty.

However, fewer employers cited this as the main concern than in SHRM’s 2004 survey, according to its report on the survey findings. Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents cited uncertainty about time away as the main concern versus 86% who did so in the 2004 survey.

The percentage of employers who cited finding a comparable job for returning employees a challenge also declined slightly to 15% from 16% in the 2004 study. The percentage who cited the effect on active duty employees’ families, such as providing employee assistance programs and offering COBRA, as a challenge remained the same at 24%.

Other factors have become a greater concern to employers than in 2004. Other survey results included:

  • 60% cited the burden on remaining employees to cover the open positions in 2006; 52% cited this factor in 2004.
  • 25% cited the loss of productivity in 2006; 16% noted this in 2004.
  • 23% cited the challenge of finding temporary workers for open positions in 2006; 19% noted this in 2004.
  • 14% cited the emotional toll on employees who remain behind in 2006; 3% noted this in 2004.
  • 35% cited continuation costs for employees called to active duty, such as salary and benefits in 2006; 32% noted this in 2004.
  • 17% cited temporary worker costs for open positions in 2006; 13% noted this in 2004.

The 327 human resource professionals surveyed were allowed to choose more than one concern from SHRM’s listing. Other concerns noted by the respondents were:

  • complying with state and federal mandates;
  • coordinating and communicating with employees on their return and status;
  • management handling military leave properly;
  • understanding the company’s obligations to employees on active duty; and
  • employees returning to work for one day to collect monies earned during their time away and then quitting.