What is mentorship?
A mentor is a more experienced or knowledgeable person in a profession or specific area who provides guidance and lends support to a less experienced person.
Mentorships are useful for those who want to advance their career goals by leveraging the expertise of someone who has a more diverse perspective in a particular field and can help them identify the areas in which they might need to improve to make progress.
In view of the vast benefits of mentoring, 71% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programmes, according to the Association for Talent Management. The advantages for both parties are clear.
Workplace mentors can shorten the learning curve of new employees and make the onboarding process more positive, while also saving the company time on formal training and supervision. These experienced mentors also get to gain a fresh perspective on their work, reinforce their knowledge and find greater satisfaction in their role.
Benefits for mentees
Mentorship is one of the most valuable development opportunities you can offer to employees. The guidance, encouragement and support of an experienced mentor can provide mentees with a broad range of personal and professional benefits, which ultimately lead to improved performance in the workplace. Some of the key benefits include:
- Exposure to new ideas and ways of thinking
- Advice on developing strengths and overcoming weaknesses
- Guidance on professional development and advancement
- Increased visibility and recognition within the company
- The opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge
Benefits for mentors
Mentoring is more than a mere transfer of advice, knowledge and insights. The relationship offers reciprocal benefits for mentors willing to invest their time in developing another professional. Beyond the personal satisfaction of sharing their skills and experience with a willing learner, being a mentor also brings with it some tangible benefits, such as:
- Recognition as a subject matter expert and leader
- Exposure to fresh perspectives, ideas and approaches
- Extension of their professional development record
- Opportunity to reflect on their own goals and practices
- Development of their personal leadership and coaching styles
How mentorship programmes benefit your company
An effective mentoring programme has far-reaching positive ripple effects, including a more efficient and motivated workforce, increased job satisfaction and retention, and ultimately, better workplace culture and employer branding.
These four benefits help to position your company competitively among the market’s top talent looking for their next job:
1. Talent attraction
Learning opportunities are attractive incentives for new talents. Research has shown that opportunities for development have become the second most important factor in workplace happiness, after the nature of the work itself.
Prioritising employees to help them meet their career goals sends a clear message that you value the importance of a learning culture, and genuinely want to assist in their career advancement. This makes your company much more appealing to potential candidates.
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The returns of investing in mentorship also include employee retention. Aside from the cost of filling a vacant role, the cost that attrition has on morale, team dynamics and culture can be substantial. It can also influence how both current and potential employees perceive the organisation.
According to a study by Californian tech company Sun Microsystems, retention rates were significantly higher for mentees (72%) as well as for mentors (69%) than for employees who did not participate (49%) in mentorship programs.
Harvard Business Review has found that as many as 71% of millennials are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Mentorship programs are especially useful for helping employees feel passionate about their jobs and be more willing to put discretionary effort into their work.
In fact, 78.8% of these professionals said that they felt more engaged in their work after taking part in a mentorship program. With higher engagement comes a greater sense of fulfilment, and this eventually maps back to retention. Moreover, engaged workers are more productive and can be 21% more profitable.
4. Workplace culture
A good mentor can be the bridge between an individual and an organisation, while also being a platform for the organisation to demonstrate its commitment to helping employees develop skills to advance their careers.
A business’s supportive culture, focused on learning and professional development, is one of the key considerations that prospective staff consider when choosing their next professional endeavour. It makes up an important aspect of the overall employee experience.
One of the most impressive things about effective mentoring is how far the positive ripple effects reach. These efforts help boost your company’s image and position you competitively in the industry and can make all the difference between attracting mere candidates and stellar talent.
This article is contributed by Michael Page.