Employee Mentoring Programs — More Than Meets The Eye

January is National Mentoring Month. Although this annual campaign is intended to raise awareness of youth mentoring, the timing couldn’t be better to evaluate the benefits of employee mentoring.

Businesses working to succeed in their industry while striving to maximize cost savings, face a variety of challenges. Companies are always seeking the lowest-cost, highest-benefit solutions for their needs and employee development is no exception to this. Regardless of your industry or business size, your organization’s greatest asset is its people. Invest smartly in your human capital, and you will undoubtedly see payback in the form of bottom line results.

Employee mentoring programs are a cost-effective, yet worthwhile alternative to traditional training programs which can be expensive. At first glance, you may think the development of an employee mentoring program is helpful only to the mentee. You will be pleasantly surprised to learn all of the areas within your business that will see a benefit of a well put together mentoring program.

EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT

Mentoring is an excellent way to help the mentor and the person receiving the mentoring to recognize their abilities and limitations. Both individuals will walk away feeling more motivated to succeed with the added benefit of a new sense of achievement. Most importantly, you are demonstrating the company’s commitment to supporting their personal and professional development which will lead to long term gains in many areas of your business.

RETENTION

Retention of employees is perhaps the most obvious way your support of their personal and professional development will show a return in your investment. Your strongest people will want to stay at an organization where they know their career development is supported by leadership in a structured and meaningful way.

RECRUITMENT

Having a solid mentoring program will attract motivated new hires by demonstrating your investment into their ultimate career success. Generally speaking, you get back what you give out to your employees. If you can demonstrate a history of helping employees to build a meaningful career as opposed to just “doing a job,” your payoff will come in the form of solid hires who will stay for the long-haul.

ORIENTATION

Think back to how it felt to start a new job. Chances are, you may have been thrown into your new position and expected to learn by trial and error. How did that work for you? Not so good, right? Now go back to that same situation and imagine if you walked into a structured program where you had a mentor to provide practical workplace guidance as well as personal support. Think of how much more quickly you could’ve become a productive, high functioning employee.

SUCCESSION PLANNING

Succession planning is a critical issue for organizations who are proactive about trying to seek a competitive sustainability and growth advantage. By offering a structured mentoring program, you are essentially grooming employees to fill key roles while reducing the exorbitant costs associated with turnover and hiring. The development of a targeted mentoring strategy will build a strong internal talent pipeline for you to draw from.

IMPROVED TEAMWORK

Aside from gaining job-specific competencies, employees who are involved in mentoring programs develop in their overall self-awareness. As a result, they develop in their ability to work with others through compromising and have insight into their communication and interpersonal tendencies.

PRODUCTIVITY

Lengthy, drawn-out training programs are not always a viable option for organizations who are juggling high volumes of work and aggressive deadlines. Mentoring is a perfect alternative to keeping employees productive while developing new skills on a need-to-know basis. New knowledge is passed on to the mentee in a way that they can immediately transfer into their work.

DIVERSITY INITIATIVES

In many cases, women and minority employees voluntarily leave their job in part because of the absence of a supportive internal network of resources. If your organization is serious about developing diversity initiatives that will build a long-term pool of employees from all backgrounds, investing in a supportive mentoring program is wise.

It is no secret that organizations who invest in their people are top performers and those who don’t bleed out a lot of unnecessary profits. The development of an employee mentoring program is a cost effective solution to many business decisions.

Elizabeth P. Cipolla is a regional director and senior consultant with JL Nick and Associates Inc. She is a business communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, employment branding, professional development and executive coaching for nearly 15 years.