Mentor programs aren’t just trendy, they also offer a quantifiable return on investment (ROI), which is why businesses of all size use them. Mentorship grows employee engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity—and 77% of companies report that these programs increase retention. If you invest in a mentorship program, your company will see rewards for mentees, mentors, and the business as a whole.
Mentorship Program Benefits
Mentorship programs benefit companies and employees in many ways. Here are eight things a mentor program at your company could accomplish.
- Increase Retention and Job Satisfaction
Engaged employees enjoy their jobs more, but many companies struggle to involve employees in the larger organization. Gallup reports that only 32% of US employees feel actively engaged at their workplaces.
A mentor program fosters engagement. It causes employees to feel they are an integral part of the team, pushing them to be more productive and participatory at work. In fact, 95% of mentees surveyed reported that a mentorship relationship drives them to perform their best.
- Bridge Generational Gaps
PricewaterhouseCoopers reports in Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace that millennials treasure mentorship relationships. However, the same report identifies potential friction points: 38% of millennials feel that senior managers don’t relate to them, and 34% believe their ambitions intimidate older employees.
A mentor program can bridge the gap between generations, but it requires work from both participants. Make sure your mentors are trained well so they are willing to give negative feedback and more responsibility—and train the mentees so they are able to receive it.
- Help Employees Overcome the Onboarding Hurdle
Well-developed onboarding processes, including collaboration tools and on-demand training, incorporate new employees into your company and its culture. Peer mentoring also has a role to play in onboarding: a 2014 survey conducted by BambooHR found that 56% of new hires are more productive when they have mentors.
You can use a mentor program at your company to positively affect the onboarding process. Ultimately, this will lead to improved productivity and job performance among employees.
- Address Talent Shortages
Both junior- and senior-level employees want to understand how their work impacts the companies they work for, according to Robert Half Management Resources. RHMR reports that 53% of employees would appreciate greater insight into how their efforts affect company outcomes.
Because a mentor program functions as part of a holistic education and training initiative, it can help eliminate talent shortages. In mentor relationships, mentees develop necessary skills and visualize how their work contributes to the larger picture.
- Share Intellectual Knowledge
Willis Towers Watson recommends using mentoring programs to transfer knowledge, and 71% of Fortune 500 companies make sure that learning occurs in mentor programs.
When senior employees share their wisdom and years of experience with their juniors, the collective knowledge helps new employees mature and enables business continuity. When a senior employee retires, their accounts can go to the junior mentee to avoid miscommunication and service disruption.
- Offer Opportunities for Career Advancement
Younger employees want to develop the skills and aptitudes they need to lead well, and 96% of executives consider mentorship to be a critical talent-development tool.
According to the 2014 Global Workforce Study, employees rank career advancement opportunities as a top reason for joining an organization. Developing a mentor program helps secure top talent, grooms them for future leadership positions, and ensures your company’s longevity.
- Build Senior Leadership and Management Skills
Mentors can also benefit from mentoring programs. As they interact with their mentees, mentors can cultivate leadership and management skills that sync with younger generations entering the workforce.
Mentor programs also offer opportunities for older employees to learn new tools, technologies, and processes. Through the exchange of ideas and information, both mentees and mentors become more knowledgeable and valuable to the company.
- Develop Empathy and Understanding for Frontline Workers
A mentoring program can help older employees develop a better understanding of new and junior-level workers. As senior employees and executives hear—and remember—what it’s like to be in the trenches, they develop empathy and see ways to improve processes and workflows.
Additionally, mentor programs help senior employees establish a connection with younger employees, which can lead to more open conversations and the introduction of innovative ideas to the workplace.
How to Start Your Own Mentorship Program
Mentor programs aren’t very financially expensive, although you may need to purchase an online collaboration tool to help with facilitation. The real cost of a mentorship program is employees’ time and effort—but these costs are worth the potential benefits. Here are the four steps you need to take to get your mentorship program up and running.
- Set Objectives
Mentor programs demand goals. No mentorship initiative succeeds without established objectives, so goal setting should be your first step. Determine the desired outcomes, write them down, and develop key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, you can monitor, measure, and compare retention ratings from year-to-year, or use Gallup’s employee engagement survey. Such measurements help correlate mentor activities with bottom- and top-line outcomes.
- Build a Core Team
Next, form a core team. Some businesses employ a mentor program manager, who is like a project manager for mentor and mentee relationships. Besides a mentor program manager, you should draw in people from across the organization and varying demographics and ages to ensure your mentor program meets real, not assumed, needs.
- Formalize a Structure
The third step is to develop a structure. Mentors and mentees need a meeting schedule and format to keep their conversations regular, focused, and productive. Otherwise, they may not prioritize the mentorship relationship, which could weaken or eliminate any positive impacts of the program. Make sure to keep the structure somewhat loose, though, as every mentorship is unique.
- Measure the Program
Finally, you need to measure the program. Use the KPIs you identified earlier and establish ways to regularly monitor and track them. You may choose to gather feedback from mentors and mentees every month through a mentoring software. You can then use their replies and other metrics to fine-tune the program and make it even more impactful.
Mentor programs require time and effort, but the labor offers huge dividends—these programs can increase employee productivity up to 88%. With a mentoring program, junior and senior employees develop new skills, bridge generational gaps, and become more engaged with your company. The personal benefits bloom into corporate ones: increased employee efficiency will lead to greater business profitability and growth.