To be successful in today’s ever-changing business environment, companies must learn and evolve constantly, while also understanding employees’ needs, aspirations and motivations. A structured workplace mentoring program can help cover all the bases. And these types of initiatives are catching on: According to the Association for Talent Development, more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have some type of mentorship program.
In lieu of a manager or coworker, employees can turn to their mentor for career guidance, interpersonal development and to learn about company inner workings, for example. While you’ll have to set forth some guidelines to create an effective program, it can be well worth your effort. Some of the benefits of having a structured workplace mentoring program at your company are as follows:
1. Creates a learning culture
By publicizing a workplace mentoring program internally, you are creating a company culture that values learning and development. Employees know their future is being invested in if they’re paired with a mentor who can help guide their career development. Additionally, a mentoring program promotes a collaborative learning environment where it is encouraged that employees gain knowledge from those around them.
2. Promotes personal and professional development
By pairing employees with a mentor who is tasked with guiding employees, you create a safe place for employees to learn. They are comfortable taking risks and making mistakes because they understand they should constantly be learning. This feeds a culture of innovation as well.
3. Reduces cost of learning
Many companies that have workplace mentoring programs also have formal learning and development departments, but that doesn’t mean unlimited budgets. According to Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Training Benchmarking Study, companies choose the classroom for training purposes 22 percent more than any modality, but coaching/mentoring is seen as more effective (for the third consecutive year). In fact, coaching/mentoring was rated the most effective method of learning. And its cost is minimal.
4. Decreases stress and anxiety
When faced with an issue at work, employees may think twice about going to their manager. Teammates may not be able to help if they’ve never experienced the same issue. Or it may be the case that an employee is having a problem with his/her manager or teammate. A workplace mentor is someone they could always turn to for guidance no matter what the issue. Knowing a mentor is always there to lend an ear can put an employee at ease.
5. Increases job satisfaction and reduces turnover
According to a study published in the Plastic Surgical Nursing journal, the mentor experience/relationship positively influenced job satisfaction of new hire nurse practitioners. The mentoring experience provided a positive environment, leading to increased job satisfaction. And a higher level of satisfaction is associated with reduced turnover and improved retention and patient outcomes.
6. The mentor benefits too
We assume mentees will learn when paired with a mentor, but it turns out the mentor actually benefits from the relationship too. According to a 2013 study, “Career Benefits Associated with Mentoring for Mentors,” published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, mentors versus non-mentors were more satisfied with their jobs and had a stronger sense of commitment to the organization as a whole.
7. Comes full circle
When a new employee who’s assigned a mentor benefits from that relationship, the mentee will be more likely to volunteer to do the same for the next onboarding employee. By creating a formal program, employees will find it easier to join, follow guidelines and start making a difference.
Now that you understand the benefits of a structured workplace mentoring program, here are some simple steps to get started:
- Match employees together appropriately
- Set relationship guidelines, including frequency of meetings
- Check in regularly to ensure the relationship is mutually beneficial
- Market the program internally to get seasoned employees on board