How to Create a Program for Mentoring in the Workplace

employee mentoring in the workplace

Small businesses should get creative with employee benefits. And here's a new one: offering employee mentoring in the workplace.

Many companies, including 70 percent of Fortune 500 firms, have programs for mentoring in the workplace. The effectiveness of them varies widely. Given this disparity, it can be hard to determine how to design and implement a mentoring program. However, we believe that in the current work environment, it’s becoming ever more crucial to offer this valuable service to employees.

Why is Mentoring Important in the Workplace?

There is lots of research supporting the importance of mentoring in the workplace– and these differ from just performance management programs. Here are the employee benefits of mentoring programs in the workplace for:

  • Advance in their careers
  • Feel more satisfied
  • Earn more money
  • Want to stay with a firm longer
  • Improve diversity and inclusion efforts

75 percent of executives credit mentoring with helping them achieve success and 87 percent of leaders believe mentoring programs can aid employee retention. When it comes to retaining millennials, in particular, the Deloitte Millennial Survey showed that mentoring can help keep younger employees around longer.

What Does a Good Mentor Do?

A good mentor doesn’t just put in a good word for a mentee when he or she is pursuing a new job. In our experience, a good mentor:

  • Shares his or her knowledge
  • Helps mentees with their goals and development
  • Connect mentees to others
  • Is honest with the mentee and provides constructive feedback
  • Sets a good example
  • Is positive and enthusiastic

What is the Purpose of a Work Mentor?

While people can have mentors in all areas of their lives, mentoring in the workplace serves a special purpose. Mentoring programs can lead to professional advancement for both the mentor and mentee. Importantly for the company, we have seen mentoring programs lower employee turnover, improve employee engagement and performance, and indirectly boost the firm’s success.

How do I Create a Program for Mentoring in the Workplace?

There are many types of programs to introduce mentoring in the workplace. Typically, these programs require approval from firm executives and are driven by the HR department.

A few examples of mentoring programs include:

  • Unofficial: This occurs when two individuals meet professionally and establish a connection. It’s usually the mentee’s responsibility to ask for mentorship. Although this is not a firm-sponsored program, these more organic approaches to mentorship are often quite successful.
  • Formal Pairing Program: Most corporate mentoring programs tend to follow a formal pairing where both mentors and mentees apply for inclusion. Based on a questionnaire or interview responses, the individuals are paired. The program typically sets the framework for how often the pairs meet. These programs can sometimes feel a bit forced, but if employees are paired with a good match, it can be a win for all involved.
  • Group Mentoring: In some situations, group mentoring may be used where there is one main mentor and a group of peers who attend regular meetings together. This type of mentoring allows employees to learn from their mentor and their peers.
  • Training-Based Mentoring: This type of mentoring occurs when mentees reach out for help with a specific skill or task. These engagements tend to be shorter term in nature.
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