Today marks national Reserves Day, an opportunity to come together as a nation and celebrate the contributions reservists make to our country.
Hopefully you’ll see your colleagues walking round the office in their uniform today, but if not, we need to push for change.
As a proud reservist in the 39th Signal Regiment, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight why the business world needs to engage more openly with reservists and ex-service men and women to recognise the potential value that these employees could bring to their organisation.
But first, I just want to discuss who we are and what we’re about.
What is a reservist?
Approximately one sixth of our armed forces are made up of the reserve forces – individuals who give up their free time to train and are ready to mobilise at a moment’s notice.
Reservist units are crucial to protecting our nation’s security both at home and abroad, particularly bolstering our forces in specialist technical areas like medical, engineering and cyber security. As we speak, reservists are currently supporting operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cyprus, Bahrain, Estonia, South Sudan, and Somalia. But they are equally integral to operations at home.
Members of my unit were mobilised in “Operation Pitch Pole”, providing flood relief assistance in the 2014 crisis, and others helped with the 2012 Olympics. Equally, reserve units nearer Manchester assisted the police in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attack there.
What’s in it for companies?
The business world must do more to engage with the reserves. They will reap the benefits of an employee with a huge variety of transferable skills, who can learn from their experiences and apply themselves better to their day job.
I attribute much of my success in my full-time job at Experis to the skills I’ve learned in my second job as a reservist. While they may seem worlds apart, and perhaps the business environment is less dramatic, the same work ethic applies. My plans must be consistent and my teaching must be effective, because if I am incapacitated for any reason, someone else must be able to pick up exactly where I left off – whether that’s on the battlefield or the day before an important client meeting. The method is the same, even if the application is slightly different.
On an even more practical level, my responsibilities as an officer, such as briefing troops and delivering training, have given me the confidence to speak authoritatively to clients and develop my own style of leadership as an account manager. Equally, I have had presenting and teaching opportunities in the reserves far beyond what someone of my level would be exposed to in this role.
Regardless of whether that individual is a commissioned officer, in the soldier ranks, an ex-serviceman or a reservist, the army instils the values of good people management, punctuality, a desire to learn, and the ability to take criticism and strive to better yourself.
Get involved and sign the Covenant
Being a reservist really is a second job, with the sheer amount of time you have to invest. The biggest help that any employer can afford a reservist is flexibility, and I’m proud to say that my employer has done just that, often accommodating last-minute assignments and the additional time and leave I need.
More companies in every sector need to pick up this mantel, and like Manpower Group (the parent company of Experis), and other leading organisations across the country, sign the Armed Forces Covenant and encourage staff to get involved with the reservists.