07 May The Importance of Employer Support of Military Spouses
By Bryan O’Neil, Business Analyst at Criterion Systems
On this Military Spouse Appreciation Day, I’d like to highlight some of the things Criterion Systems does to support me as a military spouse and offer some advice to companies looking to create or enhance programs to support military spouses and their families.
If I had to choose one thing that impacts military spouses the most, it would be flexibility. Whether it be a last minute TDY trip out of town for your spouse, that your spouse’s last meeting of the day ran long so now you have to pick up the kids, or an unexpected call from the pre-school that your child is sick, you have to plan to be flexible. More often than not, your daily plan will change by noon, your weekly plan is completely shot by Tuesday evening, and you’ve shifted into improvise mode for the remainder of the week! Such is the life of a military spouse and having an employer that understands that and provides the flexibility for you to be both productive at work and supportive at home is really important.
The life of a military spouse is one of prioritization, where the tasks of daily life are categorized on a scale of urgency and importance, commonly known as the Eisenhower Matrix. The most urgent and most important tasks are done first, important but not so urgent tasks are scheduled, urgent but not important tasks are delegated, and neither urgent nor important tasks are even considered. I carry that same mindset into the workplace as well because it allows me to be both highly productive and highly flexible. Criterion is a place where you are treated like a professional and an adult from the get-go and management is always clear on what is expected and on what timeline, but you rarely feel boxed in and restricted. It is a testament to the leadership culture at Criterion and the value it places on its people.
In conclusion, my main piece of advice for companies looking to start or enhance a military spouse program is to foster an environment of flexibility. The military culture, to include spouses, values loyalty and when members feel that their homelife situation is appreciated, they will respond with a level of productivity and loyalty that you just can’t train into people.
Bryan O’Neil is a business analyst at Criterion Systems and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. His wife, LtCol Lisa O’Neil, is an active duty officer in the U.S. Air Force currently serving as Detachment Commander, USAF ROTC at Louisiana State University. You can read more about his experiences here.