The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Workplace Mentorship Program

Help boost your hiring and retention numbers with this worthwhile initiative.

It’s a candidate’s market, and employers are still feeling the effects of The Great Resignation. Companies must deploy new strategies to keep pace with growth needs and overcome mounting retention and recruitment challenges.

 

One solution many employers are investing in is a workplace mentorship program. Just over one in two (52 percent) of the 1,099 tech professionals we surveyed in March 2022 said professional development/opportunities for growth are a top consideration in their job search. A mentorship program allows companies to attract and retain these professionals while also creating pathways for businesses to upskill their staff and fill key roles more efficiently.

 

Benefits of Mentorship Programs in the Workplace

 

Mentorship programs in the workplace have also increased retention rates for mentors by 69 percent and mentees by 72 percent. Minority representation and diversity are also boosted by mentorship programs at the management level (from 9 percent to 24 percent) compared to other diversity initiatives (-2 percent to 18 percent). In addition, retention and promotion rates for women and minorities are positively impacted (15 percent to 38 percent) by mentorship compared to non-mentored employees in these groups.

 

Profits and productivity are also supported by mentoring. During the pandemic-related economic downturn in 2020, U.S. Fortune 500 companies with mentoring programs had better profits than those that didn’t.

 

Further, some research indicates it can cost as much as six times more to hire externally than reskilling and promoting from within, making reskilling and upskilling through mentoring a smart business move.

 

How to Create a Workplace Mentorship Program 

 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to designing a mentorship program. In fact, some experts agree that attempting to implement a formulaic program can do more harm than good. So it’s essential to design a mentorship program based on your organization’s demographics, needs and goals.

 

The first steps a company should take to implement a mentorship program in the workplace include:

 

 

Clarify Program Goals and Purpose

 

As with any company program, the goals and objectives need to be established to create a roadmap for success. The questions to start with are: “What does your organization hope to gain from a mentorship program?” and “What is the program’s purpose?”

 

Some organizations use mentorship to get an early start on preparing new leaders for the succession process. Others want to upskill their employees to fill in gaps and developmental needs, provide professional development opportunities to staff and offer career growth and promotability within the company. This can be achieved by more senior employees mentoring junior and entry-level employees. However, it can also be accomplished by more junior employees mentoring more senior employees through a process called reverse mentoring.

 

Companies also use mentoring programs to assist new and inexperienced hires in assimilating and acclimating to the company and work environment. Maybe your goals are a combination of these or something different. Get very specific on your “what” and “why” so you can determine other vital aspects of the program.

 

 

Identify Organizational Mentoring Steps and Processes

 

Once your goals and objectives are clarified, outline the mentoring steps and processes. Some considerations include:

 

 

You should outline your purpose, goals and processes in a document accessible to employees within your organization. The clearer communications are about the program, the easier implementation and administration of the program will generally be.

 

Define the Program Participants

 

You might opt to have an invite-only program for both mentors and mentees. You could ask each group to submit applications or have a combination of the two (e.g., mentors are invite-only and mentees need to apply). No matter how you select program participants, diversity and inclusion should be at the heart of a successful mentoring program. Therefore, it’s ideal to have a diverse selection pool of participants.

 

Use interviews, applications and assessments to gain insights into mentors’ and mentees’ background. These programs will work best with mentees who are eager to grow and mentors who are respected and perform well.

 

Matching Mentors with Mentees

 

For a program to be successful, mentors and mentees need to be aligned. Though some organizations might choose to place mentors and mentees together based on availability, doing so could limit the program’s success. Instead, when careful thought is given to matching mentors and mentees based on personal characteristics and interests, it can increase the chances of quick rapport and relationship building, which leads to increased trust. Strong relationships and trust help support openness to learning and growth.

 

Assessments are an option to align mentors with the right mentees. Providing your mentees and mentors the opportunity to participate in the selection process is also a consideration.

Provide Mentoring Training

 

At the program’s onset, it’s a best practice to train mentors on what successful mentoring looks like and the ins and outs of your program’s design. The mentor-mentee relationship can take on different forms and training is key opportunity to highlight each option and your organization’s preferences. For example, mentors can be asked to demonstrate skills, share professional success tips, offer role-play opportunities and/or provide constructive feedback. It can also be beneficial to train mentees on how they can support and train the mentor when appropriate.

 

After launching the program, evaluate it every six to 12 months and make any necessary tweaks for continued and optimal success.

Now that you know how to initiate a successful mentorship program, you can offer your new and current employees the opportunities for growth they prioritize and get closer to your hiring and retention goals.