Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Can Diversity Management Improve Job Satisfaction for Military Veterans in the Federal Government?

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 2:10 PM
Johnson II (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Matthew Vanderschuere and Christopher Birdsall, American University
Prompted by the 2009 Veteran Employment Initiative, the federal government has increased veteran hiring to its highest levels in decades. In 2014, 33.2 percent of all new federal hires were military veterans and veterans accounted for approximately 31% of the federal workforce. Despite the large number of veterans working in the federal government, there is limited empirical research on how veterans integrate into federal service. Currently, one troubling statistic is that veterans are significantly more likely to express lower job satisfaction and higher turnover intention than non-veteran employees (OPM, 2014). This paper explores whether diversity management and perceived organizational fairness can mitigate lower levels of job satisfaction among veterans.

Individual characteristics, such as gender, race, and ethnicity are an important source of identity and values (Krislov 1974), and a long line of research suggests these characteristics have important public management and policy implications (e.g., Meier 1975; Pitts 2009; Selden 1997; Wilkins 2007). Individuals may also develop identities and values, however, based on their work and experiences within institutions (Meier and Nigro 1976), and previous research suggests veteran status is an important source of identity with behavioral and attitudinal implications (Gade and Wilkins 2013). Due to the large population of veterans in the federal workforce, it is important to understand how veteran status affects workplace attitudes and behaviors.

In a previous study, Choi and Rainey (2014) found that employee perceptions of organizational fairness and effectiveness of diversity management are associated with job satisfaction. This paper extends their research by treating veterans as a distinct demographic. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) started tracking veteran status among survey respondents in 2012. Using data from FEVS and hierarchical regression we first test whether veterans report different perceptions of diversity management and organizational fairness than nonveterans, and subsequently whether the differing perceptions have implications for job satisfaction. Preliminary results show that veterans report lower levels of perceived organizational fairness and diversity management than nonveterans. This difference remains when controlling for the traditional diversity measures of sex and race.

This research has important implications for both research and practice. First, it contributes to the literature on diversity management by treating veterans as a distinct demographic and demonstrating that, as a source of identity, veteran status affects workplace behaviors and attitudes. In terms of practice, the results suggest that public managers should incorporate veteran integration as a component of diversity management programs.