The benefits of mentoring are practically endless. Almost any people strategy or business objective can be supplemented directly or indirectly with a mentoring program. The key to successful mentoring is focusing on the end goal. Most learning and development leaders and educators will tell you that it’s always good to plan with the end in mind. E.g., ask yourself, “What does program success look like?” That end goal you want to reach should be measurable and attached to a critical business objective.
Among the many reasons organizations choose mentoring, several stand out. Companies often find mentoring programs help them achieve the following:
- Improve employee engagement
- Supplement professional development goals
- Foster strong diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Increase employee retention and save money in turnover costs
How these mentoring program benefits will manifest within each organization depends on your planning, implementation, growth, measurement, and program adjustment approach.
1. Improve employee engagement
Organizations have been forced back to the planning stages for employee engagement strategies in the past few years. Post-pandemic employment trends like the Great Resignation and the Antiwork movement played a large part in that. A quick look at Google Trends search data shows that “employee engagement” was already becoming a top-of-mind issue that essentially exploded in interest in 2021.
How do you define employee engagement? Broadly, it’s how dedicated a worker is, how actively involved they are in their work, and how much effort they put into building and maintaining relationships with their colleagues.
Source: Google Trends
There are two types of mentoring programs that you may want to consider for this:
- Open mentoring programs: Allow anyone within an organization to enter into mentoring relationships with anyone else.
- Reverse mentoring programs: Place senior-level executives in mentoring relationships with junior-level employees who serve as mentors.
These aren't the only mentoring programs that can create structured communication networks. The type of mentoring programs you create and run to boost employee engagement will ultimately depend on what talent indicates they need or want most. However, it’s important to recognize that active communication is a critical component of positive engagement. Mentoring programs are a great way to start building a culture of communication.
2. Supplement professional development and career pathing needs
What’s one thing that workers fear the most? Getting stuck in a dead-end job. It’s no wonder a LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report found that 94% of people would stay with their current employer longer if the organization prioritized their learning and career development.
Most people chose their career path because it was something they enjoyed. The idea of stagnating at any point in their career is frightening. Most of your employees want to refine or grow their skills, and they’re ultimately willing to move on to an organization that will give them that opportunity.
Case in point: 80% of people looking to change jobs in 2021 noted that “career growth” was a major factor in why they were looking to make a switch.
Mentoring programs are an excellent way to help provide career development opportunities to your team members by leveraging your existing talent in the process. By pairing experienced team members as mentors with junior team members at all steps of the employee life cycle, your talent professionals will find opportunities to grow their skills, learn about the different opportunities available to them in the organization, and create stronger relationships with senior-level colleagues that can lead to sponsorship opportunities.
Eventually, team members will develop their own leadership skills and step into leadership roles. When your culture is built around mentoring, these team members will likely jump at the chance to become mentors themselves.
- Functional mentoring programs: Role-specific mentoring programs that can help transfer skills from the top-down through departments.
- Onboarding programs: Enables you to connect new hires to tenured team members who can help demystify the organization’s career pathing and development options early in the process.
While both of these are valuable, the latter is particularly important. Around a third of employees quit within the first 12 months. Many leave either during or not long after the onboarding period has ended, meaning those employees likely cost more to hire and train than the value they’ve returned through productivity.
3. Foster strong diversity, equity, and inclusion
Companies can no longer ignore the importance of creating inclusive work environments. Around 80% of workers say they want a company that values DEI. It appears most employers are hearing that message as well. In 20201, nearly 90% of companies now reported that they have a DEI strategy, while the remainder said they plan to develop one within the next 12 months. Effectively, 100% of companies are dedicated to DEI.
Also positively, 79% of companies explained that they plan to increase their DEI spending in the coming year. The big question that needs to be asked, however, is whether that spending is going to the right places and whether organizations have a DEI strategy that works for their organization.
DEI has no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one company may not work for another. Open communication is key to making it work. Unfortunately, 63% of companies communicate their DEI goals either annually or biannually. That’s simply not enough.
Mentoring programs offer the flexibility to keep those lines of communication going year-round. They also provide your leadership with the opportunity to become the learner, enhancing DEI goals making your DEI approach far more authentic.
|The type of mentoring programs you may want to consider for DEI include:
Your DEI strategy should include a mixture of 1-to-1 and 1-to-many options. Additionally, give consideration to the differences between identity networks (such as Women’s networks) and experience networks (such as Parents’ networks). Only offering one or the other may leave some groups feeling alienated.
Give your people spaces where they can actively engage in individual growth and connection opportunities, as well as options for growing and expanding their network and connections in a group setting.
4. Increase employee retention
Turnover is incredibly expensive for organizations. In fact, Gallup calls voluntary turnover a $1 trillion fixable problem. Thankfully, organizations that increase employee engagement, offer skills training and career development and create inclusive environments using mentoring tend to see a large increase in employee retention (or, if you prefer, a decrease in employee turnover).
That cumulative, annual cost of turnover in the US is so high because of just how much of an impact voluntary turnover has on an organization’s ability to generate revenue. The cost to replace workers can be as much as 2X that employee’s salary. Those workers who are left to pick up the slack become less productive as a result, while interruptions to productivity negatively impact revenue goals.
Gallup explains that “most of this damage is self-inflicted”. Which is to say, most companies fail to take the proper steps to reduce turnover, thereby costing themselves more money than if they better incentivized staying.
Mentoring Programs Create a Positive ‘Employee Experience’
LinkedIn notes that companies with highly rated compensation and benefits enjoy a 56% lower turnover rate. That figure is telling mostly in how low it is based on what we might expect. Money isn’t everything, it seems. LinkedIn also reports that companies with highly rated employee training programs enjoy 53% lower attrition, and those with a purposeful mission enjoy 49% lower attrition.
Retention and engagement are complex, which is why a multi-faceted approach is necessary. It’s an emerging area of focus that many talent management organizations are calling Employee Experience, or EX — all of the different pieces of the puzzle that work together to make an employee feel their workplace values them and their career goals.
Gallup recommends companies rethink their talent strategy and Employee Experience by identifying a life cycle for employee engagement. The life cycle begins with attraction (job posts or recruitment) and ends with departure. The point where mentoring has the most value is most within the engage-perform-develop portion, where it’s most important to create a legitimate framework and processes for retention.
Fair compensation and benefits are important, but they aren’t the end-all, be-all of EX. In fact, every other aspect of EX is distinctly relational. Mentoring is one of the most impactful talent strategies easily available to organizations and can help you create, manage, and track your success in building the kind of employee experience that keeps people from heading for the door.
What Do Workers Really Want?
Mentoring is one of the most effective engagement and retention strategies available to businesses, especially as worker needs begin to shift. It’s a strategy that can succeed within any job market, in any industry, and for any organization because it’s what we might call an agnostic people strategy.
What remains constant across organizations, industries, and time is workers’ continued desire to:
- Learn and grow in their careers
- From strong connections with peers and colleagues
- Experience a welcoming and inclusive work environment
- Find value in the work they do
- Be appreciated for their contribution to the organization
That’s where the benefits of mentoring programs truly shine. As well, given improving retention saves money, companies can reinvest those savings into boosting pay and compensation or benefits, creating an environment of highly-engaged and well-compensated talent.
People and Process Are Essential for Successful Mentorship Programs
The bare minimum requirements for effective mentoring programs are having the right people in place to administer and build excitement for the program internally (what we call Champions), and for purposes of scaling and evaluating the success of programs, software that will reduce the amount of time and energy mentoring program administrators need to invest personally in the day-to-day operations.
Not any mentoring software will do. You should be highly selective to ensure the mentoring software offers the following, at a minimum:
- Fast program launching and support for any number and type of mentor programs
- Scientifically-backed matching algorithms for automated mentor/mentee matching
- HRIS integration to streamline data collection and analysis for areas such as program success, participation and engagement stats, and program ROI
- An expansive learning ecosystem with hundreds of hours of training material for mentors
MentorcliQ’s mentoring software is the #1 rated provider of mentoring software for enterprise businesses. Companies like Deloitte, Cigna, LinkedIn, ADP have enjoyed the benefits of mentoring programs leveraging technology that allows them to more easily realize their vision. As a result, our customers see an average 50% increase in retention and enjoy millions of dollars in savings.
Join the CliQ! Book a demo to learn more about how MentorcliQ can help your organization achieve its 2022 engagement and retention goals.