Retention Secret #2: Mentoring

Research shows that employees, and especially new hires, want a lot of support to be the best that they can be for your company. If that support is not provided, workers are apt to become disengaged, which unfortunately covers 70% of the American workforce (source). One way to counter disengagement and provide employees with the support they both need and want is through robust mentoring programs.

Mentoring to achieve results

Mentoring to achieve results

According to the Robert Walters 2013 Employee Insights Survey, 83% of nearly 10,000 survey respondents said they would benefit from mentoring, but only 29% work for companies that offer any mentoring programs!

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Part of the problem lies in the vagueness of the whole concept of mentoring. A Harvard Business Review blog post (source) notes that it is useful to think about three different kinds of mentoring. The first is buddy or peer mentoring, which involves pairing up a new employee with a “buddy” to help the new hire travel through the learning curve faster. This shouldn’t be thought of as a short, one-off orientation. It should last more like one or two years.

The second type is career mentoring, which pairs up a more senior employee with the more junior employee to help them shape their career in the company and also serve as an internal advocate. The career mentor should not be the manager who conducts the mentee’s performance evaluation reviews. It’s a less intense mentoring relationship in terms of frequency of meetings compared to buddy/peer mentoring.

The third type is life mentoring, and the mentor in this case might not even be an employee of the company. This kind of mentoring is for people who are reaching the midway or senior stages of their careers. The mentor serves as a big-picture sounding board for various issues and challenges that come up in the mentee’s career.

What can these kinds of mentoring relationships accomplish for your company? There are six main benefits and reasons to make robust mentoring a priority at your company:

  1. Mentoring makes use of the resources your company already has in place.
  2. Mentoring can make all the other learning, training and development efforts in your company more effective.
  3. Mentoring is one way to increase inclusion at your company.
  4. Mentoring can spark both creativity and innovation.
  5. Mentoring can fill your company’s internal pipeline of developing leaders.
  6. Mentoring contributes to the retention of your best talent.

Sun Microsystems evaluated 13 years worth of data on its mentoring programs from 1996-2009, concluding that the return on investment (ROI) exceeded 1,000%. A different study of the Sun Microsystems mentoring programs over a seven-year span found the following more specific positive business impacts (source):

  • Retention rates increased to 69% for mentors and 72% for mentees while the retention rate among non-participants was just 49%.
  • Those better retention rates translated into saving $6.7 million that would otherwise have been spent on replacing employees.
  • 25% of mentees and 28% of mentors enjoyed positive change in their salary grade, contrasted with only 5% among non-participants.

I hope you can see from the information presented above that establishing sustained mentoring programs in your company is not something that is just “nice to have.” Instead, it should be considered a major strategic requirement of your company’s approach to retaining your best talent. In future articles, you will discover what it takes to make mentoring part of your organizational culture and how to do it right.

October 3, 2014   Updated :December 31, 2016   engagement, mentoring, performance improvement, retention   

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