In today’s world, the benefits of mentoring go beyond retention and connectivity in the hybrid workplace. That’s why more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer corporate mentoring programs to their employees.
Let’s take a deep dive into what mentoring is, and what the benefits of mentoring are to your people and your organization.
What is Mentoring?
At its core, mentoring is the process of informally learning through others – and it’s actually been around for a long time. If you’re familiar with Homer’s Odyssey, you might remember Mentor, who acted as a friend and advisor to Odysseus. But the concept of mentoring has grown far past its roots in ancient Greek poetry.
A lot has changed since then. The fabric of the workforce has evolved to become more representative of women and diverse populations (though improvement here remains imperative). With the influx of women, diverse populations and Gen Z, mentoring has grown from the traditional 1:1 format we’re all familiar with into what we call modern mentoring: a range of new uses and formats adapted to the modern workforce. For more on modern mentoring, see our in-depth article on employee development in a shifting workforce.
What are the Mentoring Benefits for Your Organization?
So what’s in it for companies who do provide mentoring programs? Why do 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer corporate mentoring? The benefits can be seen in a few ways.
In terms of direct business value, it’s an effective method for engaging, developing, and retaining employees. In terms of how employees and job candidates perceive the company, mentoring is a strategy that helps companies position themselves more competitively as an employer. Offering mentoring programs is a tangible way for your company to show that you have a learning culture and that you prioritize helping employees meet their career goals.
Benefits of Mentoring for Business Impact
- Talent Retention: The immediate cost of employee attrition is the loss of productivity for the leaving employee’s role. When it comes to filling the vacant role, it costs the equivalent of six-to-nine months of an employee’s salary to replace that role. And then there’s the softer cost that attrition has on morale, team dynamics and corporate culture. How does mentoring address retention? In 2012 Deloitte found that retention is 25 percent higher for employees who have engaged in company-sponsored mentoring.
- Career Advancement: Investing in employee skill development is an obvious benefit – A more skilled employee will yield better output and results. But investing in employee development also maps back to retention: The National Business Research Institute found that 23 percent of employees voluntarily leave their jobs due to lack of development and training. This point is magnified for millennials. Professional growth and career development is the number one driver of successful engagement and retention among millennial employees. Mentoring programs give employees the opportunity to develop their skills by informally learning from more experienced coworkers. A well-supported mentoring program is an essential part of a robust employee development plan.
- Employee Engagement: American employees are notoriously disengaged at work. With millennials entering the workforce, it doesn’t look like that trend is improving. Harvard Business Review revealed that 71 percent of millennials are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work, making them the least engaged generation in the U.S. How can mentoring programs help? A Moving Ahead study found 82 percent believe that mentoring relationships help foster meaningful connections between mentors and mentees, across departments and the organization. Engagement, like career development, maps back to retention. Engaged workers are more customer-focused and profitable, and less likely to leave their employer. A study of professional services firms found that offices with engaged workers were over 40 percent more productive (Stein and Christiansen).
How Does Mentoring Benefit Your Recruiting Efforts?
The direct business benefits of mentoring are compelling, but let’s take a moment to pivot to how mentoring programs affect the way job candidates perceive a company that offers mentoring programs. This point is often underemphasized, but is worth mentioning, especially if your company employs or recruits millennials.
When job searching, candidates are putting themselves first – and rightly so. They want what’s in their best interest and they want to find the right fit. They want to learn and they want to grow. They want to be happy at their jobs.
Some of the points mentioned above are worth repeating:
- Professional growth and career development is the number one driver of successful engagement and retention among millennial employees
- 23 percent of employees leave a company because of a lack of career development and training
Offering mentoring programs helps to set your company apart from those who don’t. Some companies can talk the talk when it comes to having a growth mindset, but that point is lost if you don’t back it up. Formal company mentoring programs reinforce your company’s learning culture. What’s a job candidate’s thought process like when evaluating a company?
- Down the line, will I be proud to list this company on my resume?
- Will I be gaining skills and competencies at this job?
- Will I be a better candidate in the future for having worked at this company?
By offering employees mentoring programs, you’re showing tangible proof that your company invests the time, money and effort into something that directly benefits employees long-term.
How Does Mentoring Benefit Mental Health?
The Mental Health Foundation recommends mentoring as an effective way to support mental health at work. Mentorship can be an important tool for employee wellbeing in the following ways:
- Fostering human connection
- Providing employee support
- Building trust
- Establishing accountability
The need for connection doesn’t stop when people walk through the door at work or sit down in their home office. With mentoring, organizations can focus on mental health and build support for employees, personally and professionally.
What are the Mentoring Benefits for Inclusion?
When it comes to inclusion and career advancement, underrepresented employees can face challenges in the workplace. Mentoring can enable the following:
- Skill development
- Network expansion
- Empathetic engagement
- Belonging and psychological safety
Mentoring can help cultivate an inclusive workplace that allows employees to bring their complete selves to work, whether this be physically or remotely.
Mentoring Benefits for Employees
Learning through others has a proven track record of success. Mentoring in the workplace allows the mentee to engage in experiential learning, so mentees are able to apply concepts immediately, which helps them to better understand and internalize what they’re being taught.
Mentoring programs also set employees up for success in terms of salary and promotions. In a study by the Sun Microsystems, 25 percent of employees in a test group who took part in the company’s mentoring program had a salary grade change, compared with five percent of employees in a control group who did not participate in the program. Mentors were promoted six times more often than those not in the program; mentees were promoted five times more often than those not in the program.
Julie Kantor, founder and CEO of Twomentor, says 79 percent of millennials want their boss to serve more as a coach or mentor and 75 percent want to be mentored and deem it crucial for success. Mentoring programs make employees feel supported and valued. Here are some additional impacts.
Mentoring Benefits for Mentors
- Improves self-awareness
- Expands professional network
- Increases leadership skills and leadership presence
- Increases visibility and likelihood of promotion
- Improves skill development and knowledge transfer
Mentoring Benefits for Mentees
- Expands professional network
- Presents opportunity for career advancement
- Increases job effectiveness and productivity
- Accelerates skill development and knowledge transfer
- Increases connectivity and inclusion within organization
Mentoring programs remind mentees that their career development is important to their employer and gives them the space to open up about their larger goals and aspirations.
Learning through others has proven benefits for employers, employees, and job candidates. Employers see improvements in employee development, engagement and employee retention. Employees want to learn and be mentored. Job candidates will see mentoring programs as proof that an employer is willing to invest in employees, which is especially beneficial in competitive industries.
To learn how to start a high-impact mentoring program at your organization, download our eBook.