There should be no reservations about employing a reservist

During Armed Forces Week, Rachel Evans explains the value that military personnel can bring to businesses

Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Yesterday (22 June) marked National Reserves Day, a day amid Armed Forces Week that focuses on celebrating the UK’s reserves force. 

Supporting the armed forces is not only part of my job as HR director for Sodexo’s government business, it is an area I am passionate about. Sodexo has worked with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for more than 30 years. I joined around 15 years ago and over the years I’ve developed a deep understanding of the military environment and a passion to support armed forces personnel and their families. 

The value reservists bring to the workplace and how we, as HR professionals, can support them is a subject that is not discussed enough, and often not fully understood. Reservists play an important role in our armed forces, which should not be forgotten, but they also bring invaluable skills and insight to their civilian working life.

Life in the military is challenging and reservists participate in regular training where their leadership and problem-solving skills are core to the role they play, whatever the rank and position they hold. Their civilian employment and reservist employment can be in completely different fields, but what they learn as a reserve can still be brought into the workplace.

Their work ethic, agility, respect for others, integrity and sound judgement are all positive attributes demonstrated by those with military experience. In the workplace, this translates into a calm and considered approach when working under pressure, and the ability to engage and lead or be a part of a team striving to achieve a goal or task. The reservist role provides an individual with breadth of thinking and a broader skillset that can be invaluable in the workplace. 

Sodexo’s workforce delivers a diverse range of services across many environments to our clients, and as a supporter of the armed forces community we know just how much military training can benefit both our internal and external stakeholders.  

The training provided to reservists is not just combat related, it covers a wide spectrum of skills that are transferable. Training for reservists covers specialist and leadership skills and can include communications, IT, language skills and first aid, through to health and safety, personnel management and HGV licences.  

Concern is often raised about sudden leave requests being made for reservists to go on exercise, but in reality this does not happen. Reservists and their employers are notified well in advance of any requirement for training or exercise that would require the reservists to be absent from their job. 

We have strong policies to support reservists, and this forms a part of signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant. We are committed to being flexible in granting leave to enable colleagues to train with the reserve forces. We also grant additional unpaid leave to help reservists support the regular armed forces for humanitarian operations, and will keep jobs open for colleagues if they are mobilised.

We work closely with the MoD’s Defence Relationship Management, which is there to support employers either recruiting ex-service personnel or who have reservists among their workforce. As a responsible business, it is imperative we do all we can to support those who are serving our country and to help improve the communities in which we live and work. 

Rachel Evans is HR director for Sodexo’s government business