Exploring the mutual benefits of mentoring in the workplace
Nearly every organization is on the hunt for employees who are lifelong learners, workers who are committed to growing and improving. Interestingly, career development has become a priority for both employers and employees alike. For workers, opportunities to develop their skills are now among the most sought-after benefits.
Yet there’s evidence that many 0rganizations don’t provide enough career planning or development resources for their employees. If you hope to reverse this trend within your own company, establishing an effective mentorship program can be a great place to start.
Simply put, mentorship exists as a way to help newer employees develop skills and gain knowledge in a particular area. Statistics show that the benefits of mentoring in the workplace can impact mentees, mentors and even the organization itself.
If your workplace doesn’t yet offer a mentorship program, it might be time to start thinking about implementing one. Below, you’ll find plenty of information about the mutual benefits this type of offering can provide. There are even some ideas for how you can ensure your organization’s efforts are effective.
The unmistakable benefits of a mentor program
Most traditional workplace mentoring relationships involve senior employees helping guide the personal and professional growth of more junior colleagues. But age and organizational hierarchy aren’t necessarily the most important factors in today’s increasingly multigenerational workforce.
It’s more important that mentors have experience that can help others learn. This could involve younger employees sharing their expertise with evolving technological tools and trends with older colleagues who may not be as familiar with new developments in their industry. Also consider that mentors can learn from the team members they're helping to guide, so it really is a mutually beneficial relationship.
While mentoring initiatives don’t exist everywhere, they are becoming more common. When effective, such programs can provide valuable support for new hires while also establishing an open, inviting workplace culture where all employees feel empowered to put their best foot forward.
Mentoring programs, by nature, encourage a healthy amount of goal setting. Many formal programs actually ask mentors and mentees to establish objectives when they first begin meeting. This is significant, because 93 percent of surveyed workers believe that setting goals is important to their work performance. There are other benefits an effective mentorship experience can yield as well. An analysis examining the career outcomes of employees who participated in mentoring programs found that respondents experienced:
- Higher compensation
- More opportunities for advancement/promotions
- Increased satisfaction in their careers
Some evidence suggests that 91 percent of workers who have a mentor are satisfied with their jobs. That portion drops significantly among those who don’t have a mentor — more than 40 percent of employees without this type of role model have considered quitting in the last three months. Mentored employees also tend to feel more positively about their organizations as a whole. They’re far less likely to quit their jobs. In fact, a recent study found that the retention rate for mentees was 72 percent. Non-participants experienced a rate of just 49 percent.
But the benefits aren’t limited to mentees — mentors surveyed in that same study experienced a 69 percent retention rate. Employees who serve as mentors also report greater job satisfaction and greater career success.
It’s also true that mentoring programs have a positive track record for enhancing the effectiveness of diversity efforts within some companies. According to a study from Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, participation has been found to boost minority representation at the management level by 9 to 24 percent, compared to -2 to 18 percent with other diversity initiatives.
How to ensure your mentor program is successful
The benefits of mentoring in the workplace may be clear, but many believe that a one-size-fits-all approach can often fall flat. Successful mentorship initiatives will look different from organization to organization.
As you work to establish your own successful mentorship program, consider recommendations from renowned management consulting company Robert Half International:
Use a data-informed approach when matching mentors and mentees
Even the most robust mentoring efforts can produce unimpressive results if you get the mentor-mentee pairings wrong. With that in mind, it can be helpful to create a questionnaire to gather information on your employees’ skills, communication styles and overall career goals. The most successful mentorship relationships are ones in which participants can connect on a personal level, communicate effectively and work toward similar goals.
Establish mentorship guidelines
Each mentoring relationship is unique, but establishing a core set of responsibilities can be critical. To achieve the best results, encourage regular check-ins between the mentor and the mentee. For both parties to see value, there must be consistency. It can also be helpful to establish an individual or team who oversees the mentorship program. That party can then check in with participants periodically to ensure the experience remains mutually beneficial.
Make mentorship an integral part of your culture
To be truly effective, a mentor program should be engrained in your organization’s processes. This might mean promoting it during the recruitment phase. Once you gain a sense of new hires’ strengths and weaknesses, you can match them with mentors soon after. It’s also important to ensure all participants have the tools they’ll need to be successful.
Bear in mind that no successful mentorship initiative can run on autopilot. This means leaders should continually solicit feedback from participants. They can look for ways to improve the process and also find out when to revisit pairings. It only makes sense that mentors and mentees will be paired up with other employees as they progress in their careers.
Reap the rewards of workplace mentorship programs
As an employer, you’re always looking for ways to improve outcomes for your employees and your organization alike. Fostering relationships between seasoned professionals and newer employees is clearly a good option.
The benefits of mentoring in the workplace are numerous, but that’s not the only way to boost satisfaction and increase retention among your workforce. Prioritizing professional development as a whole can be an effective way to reduce turnover within your company. Learn more by visiting our article, “Business leaders explain how professional development benefits help with employee retention.”