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