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The Increasingly Important Role of Effective Mentoring Schemes

Apr 24, 2019

The ways in which we work continue to evolve at an increasingly dramatic rate. The rise of the internet, conference calling and co-working spaces have all, in their little ways, had a big impact upon employees and organisations alike. And with these changes, employee retention is more difficult than ever. Millenials and now Gen-Z are changing jobs quickly and trying to climb the career ladder (albeit often with unrealistic expectations) faster. So, what can organisations do to try and improve employee engagement, retention and ultimately employee ROI? One solution that appears to be growing in popularity both with employees and organisations alike is mentoring.

Mentoring, as a concept, has been around for a long time. Although, the role of mentoring schemes and their availability to employees has started to change. Typically, these mentoring schemes were reserved for the ‘top talent’ 5% of an organisation, and sometimes those struggling the most too. So, the highest and the lowest performers were covered. But what about the remaining 90% of an organisation? Frustratingly, they often appeared to be forgotten. And why? It might be because traditionally mentoring schemes have been very resource and labour-intensive to setup, manage and ultimately reporton. Often HR managers and L&D functions covered the concept of mentoring schemes but the idea of having to manually match employees into mentoring relationships is a challenging one. With any organisation that has more than 50 employees it can become tedious. And for those organisations with more than 150+ employees, it becomes almost impossible to match and then keep track of. Or, it could be that by the very nature that mentoring is flexible, organisations feel unsure about the best way to implement an effective strategy both to manage and report on mentoring success. After all, how should one best measure something flexible with little in the way of structure? There are a few solutions and metrics that can come in very useful here, such as engagement levels, employee retention, mentoring feedback and goal setting in alignment with mentoring.

Fortunately, with the rise of technology and the advent of platforms like PushFar, mentoring schemes can now be setup with relative ease. This technology can take care of intelligent mentor matching and help individuals to manage their mentoring relationships. Features such as goal and target setting between mentors and their mentees can be easily added in and then HR and L&D managers can review and report on the impacts of mentoring.  And it is partly this technology, combined with a worrying increase in employee turnover and typically decreasing level of employee engagement, which have organisations looking at mentoring differently. Employee mentoring, in several studies, including recently in a millennial study by Deloitte, has been proven to significantly increase employee retention and engagement.

Recently, individuals have been demanding mentoring schemes too. Professionals are continually looking for ways in which they can improve skillsets, as a way to develop their careers. While having support from management is, of course, essential, having a mentor offers that additional level of support where employees can turn if they feel uncomfortable discussing certain aspects of a role with their manager. Such examples could include employee office conflict and politics, challenges where employees feel embarrassed to admit to their managers that they are struggling and even management conflict. When employees feel supported, they are, by the very nature of such support, far more likely to feel engaged with work generally.

Mentoring can go further than just offering that increasingly essential additional support and employee engagement though. Mentoring can be used as a brilliant way to increase an organisation’s diversity and inclusion agenda too, whether this be through traditional mentoring or reverse mentoring. Some organisations are turning to diversity and inclusion specific mentoring schemes, where employees who might otherwise feel excluded can turn to a mentor and discuss challenges, growth and development. One such example of this could be an LGBT employee who has been asked to spend time working abroad in a country with strong anti-LGBT laws but feels unable about discussing this with their line-manager. In running an LGBT mentoring network, an employee could turn to their mentor to discuss and approach this challenge effectively.

So, you see, there several reasons why mentoring programmes are on the up and the benefits are becoming clearer to organisations and individuals alike – employee engagement, employee retention, diversity and inclusion and additional employee support.