- A MentorcliQ Article -

Mentoring at Work: Reduce Turnover and Increase Engagement

Mentoring at work is no longer a luxury; it’s an imperative. Workers who don’t feel connected or who don’t see how your organization will help advance their careers are far more likely to quit. If current employment trends tell us anything about the nature of today’s workforce, it’s that we can’t just throw more money into people’s pockets and call it a day. Employees like higher pay, but it’s not what keeps them in the fold. Many companies are simply unprepared for historically low worker engagement levels and historically high turnover rates. 

How Does Workplace Mentoring Help?

 

The employment market is heavily in favor of workers right now. US job openings hit record numbers in 2021, for example, and in August, there were a million more job openings than there were people looking to fill positions. People are leaving because they’re disengaged, lack a real connection and feeling of belonging, aren’t offered the options to grow their skills when they need them, and don’t have clear career pathways. Mentoring at work can solve these problems.

  • 90% of workers with a career mentor are happy with their job (and are therefore less likely to quit).
  • Yet only 37% of workers claim to currently have a professional mentor.
  • Meanwhile, our own customer data shows that just 8% of workers employed for 2 years or less quit during that time period if they had a mentor compared to 26% for those without a mentor. (We should note that BLS data shows the average quit rate in the US in 2020 was 25.5%, close to our own clients’ data.)

 

 

workplace mentoring for skills development

 

Mentoring at work for solving some of the largest issues riding under high employee retention rates. Mentoring effectively leverages your existing employee base to do it, as well, all while creating an environment where collaboration and sharing become normalized. In that way, mentoring at work not only builds your people’s skills and interpersonal connections but also strengthens your workplace culture. 

What Are Workplace Mentoring Programs?

Your starting point is to understand what a workplace mentoring program is, and how it’s different from something like a training program. 

A workplace mentoring program is one where your employees have the opportunity to enter multi-lateral and sometimes cross-functional mentoring relationships for specific business objectives. Even when created for a distinct purpose and following set structures, these relationships are often mentee-led, giving the mentee the opportunity to determine where their biggest learning needs are, and using the experience of the mentor to help problem solve and move forward. 

 

mentoring at work

 

Let’s take a sales team for example. In the US, the attrition rate of salespeople is often twice that of other workers. That may be true at your company, too. To solve the problem, you may decide to try offering new sales hires mentoring at work from the first day they’re hired. Your program could focus on pairing new sales hires with more experienced members of the sales team for 1:1 engagement and problem-solving. 

New hires will know that when they run into issues, need to improve a skill critical for their role, or just need to vent frustrations, they have someone readily available to turn to as a resource beyond just standard training materials and guides. Adding that human element to talent development is invaluable, and there’s plenty of data to show that those kinds of workplace friendships also help reduce turnover rates.

Mentoring in the workplace can streamline training, but is not a traditional training program

Mentoring programs are uniquely different from traditional training programs — in a good way! 

Traditional workplace training programs are usually:

  • Tied to an inflexible curriculum
  • Self-led or taught classroom style
  • Leave little room for questioning and problem solving by the learner

With a traditional training program, those enrolled are often handed a large binder of training material or a link learning resources, may get to ask questions here or there, but are otherwise left alone to muddle through areas they don’t understand.  

 

Meanwhile, mentorship programs offer several benefits:

  • Learning becomes far more learner-centric as well as people-centric. 
  • Streamline cross-functional cross-tenure engagements
  • Combines networking with learning and growth
  • Both mentees and mentors benefit from the mentoring relationship

 

Even as a supplement to traditional training programs, offering mentoring engagements allows employees to see what success looks like directly from someone who is more experienced in the skills they’re hoping to acquire.

 

mentoring learning

Who Can Mentor at Work

Every individual at your organization likely has something to offer. Both junior- and senior-level employees can serve as mentors or mentees. It depends on the type of mentoring program you’re offering. With workplace mentoring, it’s important to think both strategically and broadly. The type of mentoring programs you offer need to solve critical business problems, whether that’s reducing turnover, improving engagement, or creating a pathway to help improve diversity metrics for your organization’s leadership.

 

Successful mentoring

 

Common senior-led workplace mentoring programs include:

Common junior-led workplace mentoring programs include:

Who Benefits from Mentoring at Work?

The simple answer is this: both mentors and mentees benefit from engaging in mentoring relationships. Mentoring programs tend to improve retention and job satisfaction rates for everyone involved — including the mentors.  “You get out what you put in” as the saying goes. Although, with mentoring programs, you’ll usually get out far more than you put in. With increased employee engagement, upskilled and reskilled workers, and an improved and more cohesive company culture, getting as many employees involved in mentoring programs as possible tends to produce a huge payoff. 

For mentees, the benefit of mentoring often includes:

  • Increasing social and professional networks
  • Building new skills or improving on existing ones
  • Increasing confidence
  • Practicing workplace communication
  • Clarifying career paths
  • Establishing a greater sense of belonging within the organization

For mentors, the benefit of mentoring often includes:

  • The feeling of “giving back”
  • Expanding networks (especially with reverse mentoring)
  • Strengthening the skills of the company teams
  • Championing company culture

How to Start a Mentoring Program

 

Ready to get started? The good news is that we have a detailed guide covering how to start a mentoring program at work. Your biggest considerations once you’re in the planning phase will include (but are not limited to):

  • The strategic business problem you want to solve
  • How your mentoring program will solve that problem
  • The number of participants
  • Who will serve as mentors
  • Who will serve as mentees
  • What executive leaders you can leverage to help launch your program
  • The tools you’ll need to effectively launch the program, match participants, and monitor the program for success

 

Starting a workplace mentoring program

 

That last point is often the biggest reason why mentoring programs fail. When you can’t properly match participants, the relationships are less effective and lack the type of cohesion that produces results. And if you try to match manually, your program can’t scale. Likewise, if you can’t measure the success of your program, it’s not likely to get approved for expansion beyond the pilot.

MentorcliQ’s mentoring software utilizes research-based matching algorithms that create automated best matches for all mentor and mentee participants. Once matched, the platform can also help you track engagement, get satisfaction feedback, and measure the success and ROI of your mentoring program. By taking a software-based approach, you remove most of the roadblocks that easily derail traditional mentoring programs. Instead, you’ll help create a workplace mentoring option that leads to lower turnover and stronger workplace cultures.

Book a demo now to learn more about MentorcliQ’s award-winning mentoring software.

Sam Cook

Hi, I'm Sam Cook

Sam Cook is the Content Strategist for MentorcliQ. As a former high school educator with nearly a decade of classroom experience, he has seen firsthand the transformative impact found through mentoring—both for mentors and mentees. He combines his successful second-life career as a writer with his experience as an educator to help demystify mentoring in an organizational setting.

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