In today’s volatile business world, it’s extremely important for organizations to engage employees both intellectually and emotionally. According to W. Brad Johnson, author and Johns Hopkins University School of Education faculty associate, workplace mentorship “plays a pivotal role in safeguarding retention and building organizational commitment. By improving employee engagement and retention along with other company initiatives, employee mentorship programs help the company’s bottom line while also ensuring that employees feel committed to accomplishing their work in accordance with the vision of the organization.
Everyone can appreciate the benefits of a workplace mentorship program. But people are also busy. Sometimes mentoring can be pushed off for a bit, and other times forgotten altogether. It’s not that your employees don’t value the program. They just might need a little nudge to get them started and keep them engaged.
To keep your workplace mentorship program on track, here are our best practices to increase and maintain engagement in your organization’s mentoring program.
1. Utilize Targeted Emails
With every workplace mentoring program, you’ll have an initial rush of people who can’t wait to get started. That’s fantastic! These are the people who will become your program’s ambassadors. You’ll want to send emails to congratulate them on their successes and remind them to evangelize your program.
However, sometimes there’s people who will need a few additional reminders. This is where targeted email campaigns can be useful. Use emails to remind them to sign up for the program or start seeking a mentor or mentee. For signing up, we recommend the following sequence:
- An email that lists all the benefits of the mentoring program
- A reminder email to sign up
- An email that profiles a successful mentoring pair and the benefits they’ve experienced
Impactful mentoring software will enable you to set up these emails and automatically trigger them if, for example, you have a new mentee who enters your system and doesn’t send match requests within the first two weeks. Don’t have mentoring software? You can still manually send out mass email blasts to participants. As with any email campaign, it’s important to make sure you don’t overwhelm them. We see the best success with one email per week.
2. Provide Guided Workflows with Tasks and Milestones
Assign workflows with tasks to your mentors and mentees to keep your program moving forward and productive. We know that life gets busy. Because of that, it’s important to retain momentum. We’ve found that mentoring program participants receive significant value out of the program if they have a guided process to follow.
By setting up workflows with specific steps such as “Reach out to setup your first meeting with your mentor this week”, you’ll remind participants to accomplish their goals. We also recommend specifying a time limit for those tasks so you can pace the goals to a productive conclusion. That limited amount of time provides participants with a sense of urgency so they’ll want to get moving faster.
For the best results, set up these guided mentoring connections before launching your program.
3. Gather Workplace Mentorship Feedback from Participants
As with any program, once you launch you’ll discover improvements you can make along the way. Participant feedback helps with this process. Leading mentoring software will make gathering participant feedback easy for you but even if you don’t have a built-in system, you can still utilize external tools like SurveyMonkey or Google forms to gather feedback and comments. We recommend asking questions around:
- How successful they felt the relationships were
- What facets of the program they liked or didn’t like
- Ideas for the future improvements
Knowledge is power! Learn what’s working and what’s not in order to fine tune your workplace mentorship program success and improve overall engagement.
4. Train Your Mentoring Participants
While some mentoring participants may have good natural instincts or previous experience with mentoring to lean on, some might struggle or need guidance in how to establish milestones or provide proper feedback. Providing mentors and mentees the right resources and skills to productively participate in their mentoring relationship is imperative for mentoring’s impact and success within your organization.
Providing training that is customized and self paced will allow your participants to engage effectively within your mentoring program. According to HR.com, high-performing companies are more likely than low-performing companies to provide mentorship training.
5. Offer Workplace Mentorship Program Benefits
Everyone loves recognition, so we suggest offering people incentives to track their progress throughout the mentoring program — to complete the feedback surveys we just mentioned or whenever they complete a mentoring engagement.
Here are some top incentives our customers have successfully used:
- Gift cards
- Award lunches
- Spotlight in the next company newsletter or internal email
- Completion certificates
- Recognition certificates
Be creative! Make it a fun exercise—it doesn’t need to be pricey, but make sure it’s something your participants would truly value.
6. Make it Easy to Engage Anywhere, Anytime
It’s important to make participation as simple as possible for your mentors and mentees. Perhaps you have traveling salespeople, field technicians or a large remote workforce. Or maybe you’re running a reverse mentoring program with senior leaders who are always on the go.
Ensuring that your program is mobile-friendly or integrated with your company-wide communication tools is something important to consider because it allows your participants to engage no matter where they are. A smart mentoring app will encourage people to shop for a mentor, check off tasks, and see what’s next. With online mentoring and integrations in your communication tools like Slack, they can keep up whether they’re waiting to catch a flight or spending a few minutes in the company break room.
Allow mentoring to fit into their schedule. This will increase engagement and productivity in workplace mentorship relationships, making your mentorship program more impactful and successful.