Veterans Day: Celebrating Veterans Day in the Workplace
There are 8.81 million veterans in the U.S. labor force—and chances are, some of them work for you. Every year, Veterans Day (November 11), presents the opportunity to recognize the service of veterans in the workplace, including yours.
However, many employers aren’t quite sure how to honor Veterans Day—which is why we’ve rounded up a few Veterans Day recognition ideas at work.
What’s the Significance of Celebrating Veterans Day?
Veterans Day honors all U.S. veterans, from every decade and conflict, but this wasn’t always the case.
Veterans Day evolved from Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I (November 11, 1918). Armistice Day was first observed on November 11, 1919, to commemorate WWI veterans.
However, in 1954—after World War II and the Korean War—the holiday was expanded to recognize all military vets throughout U.S. history.
For many employers, knowing how to celebrate Veterans Day at work demonstrates patriotism, while enhancing their employee recognition efforts and building workplace inclusivity, too.
Veterans Day Recognition Ideas at Work
There are many ways to honor veterans at work, but the key is to make it meaningful to your workforce—especially the vets. For example, you might:
1. Ask Veterans for Their Input
If your business has established a veterans’ employee resource group (ERG), ask them for their ideas on how to honor Veterans Day at work. Better yet, empower them to plan the day’s events. Don’t have a veterans’ ERG? What better time to create one?
2. Organize a Veterans Spotlight Event
Consider hosting a company-wide event recognizing the veterans in your workforce, as well as employees’ family members. Make it a breakfast or lunch event to maximize participation. (However, before spotlighting any individuals, request their permission, since not all veterans welcome public attention.)
3. Display the U.S. Flag
If your business regularly flies the flag on holidays, then of course you’ll raise it on Veterans Day. But if you don’t, perhaps this is the time to start a new tradition. However, be sure to learn the proper code for handling a flag respectfully, perhaps entrusting your vets with this responsibility.
4. Observe a Moment of Silence
Since 2016, when The Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act became law, all Americans have been called to observe a two-minute moment of silence on Veterans Day, precisely at 2:11 EST. Why not mark the observance at work? (In 2023, November 11 falls on a Saturday, but you may wish to hold a moment of silence when you commemorate the holiday.)
5. Host a Guest Speaker—Perhaps Virtually
Hearing veterans share their stories can be a stirring experience—one that may give Veterans Day new meaning to employees who haven’t served. Consider hosting a guest speaker to do the honors. And if you manage a remote or hybrid workforce, make it a virtual event to ensure workplace inclusivity.
Why Celebrate Veterans Day at Work
All Americans—and American businesses—benefit from the sacrifices of those who served. Celebrating veterans at your business is a surefire way to show your workplace appreciation and build goodwill, too.
Think about it: while your employees likely hold wide-ranging views on most social and political issues, respect for veterans is universal—making Veterans Day one of the few holidays everyone can whole-heartedly support.
Honoring Veterans: A Year-Round Initiative
That said, it’s one thing to celebrate Veterans Day at work, but quite another to support veterans year-round in your hiring and HR practices.
Without question, veterans bring many transferable skills to the workforce: experience, perseverance, leadership, composure under pressure, and teamwork. If your organization isn’t actively recruiting veterans, or if your veteran support programs could use an update, now is a great time to power up your efforts.
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