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listen-1702648_640.jpgIt takes a concerted effort – in time, energy, and resources – to keep good employees. One method that gets results is to establish a mentorship program. It might not be easy because you’ll need buy-in at all levels of your company, but it’ll be well worth the effort. With the potential for five generations in your workforce, a program that matches new employees with company veterans can pay huge long-term dividends.

As our workforce population ages, a mentorship program provides a path to share knowledge about specific data and information to keep your business intellectually strong. It’s one reason 70% of Fortune 500 companies have a mentorship program, according to the Wall Street Journal. In a company with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), it’s a great way for employees to show their personal stake in the company. 

So where do you begin?

  1. Establish the goals of the mentorship program. Some suggestions:
  • To allow new employees to receive encouragement and advice from veteran employees
  • To transfer knowledge from veteran employees to younger employees
  • To expose veteran employees to new uses of technology and social media, in a reverse mentorship
  • To introduce new employees to the company culture
  • To increase employee engagement

Whatever your goals, make them viable and related to your company goals. Ideally, a mentorship program should be incorporated into your onboarding process. A study by BambooHR states that 56% of new hires reported that a mentor helped them be productive more quickly.

  1. Define the program. Make sure there’s time in the mentor/mentee schedule to meet and use the time wisely.
    • Who will be involved?
    • What are the benefits for the mentor?
    • What is the timeframe of the program?
    • When and where will they meet?
    • How will the program be monitored?

A successful mentorship program promotes engagement because it’s inherently both a recognition and development program. A mentor can receive recognition as the subject matter expert. A mentee gains self-confidence in making decisions. Everyone develops interpersonal, leadership, and coaching skills.

  1. Train the participants and set expectations.
    • What skills does it take to be a good mentor or mentee?
    • How can both sides gain skills and new insights?
    • What are the benefits for the mentor and mentee?
    • What outcomes should be expected?

This step is critical for the quality of the program. Emphasize that each role is important but ultimately the relationship is built on integrity and communication, which results in mutual trust and respect.  Some of your employees may have engaged in informal mentorships in their careers so let them explain how it worked and the benefits they received from the partnership. Encourage the ability to set their own guidelines and discussions.

  1. Measure results
    • Obtain feedback from the participants.
    • Compare feedback to your established goals.
    • Use the feedback to improve the program.
    • Use the program as a factor when comparing retention ratings annually.

Determine how you’ll monitor and measure your results. Gather feedback from the mentor and mentee.  What was helpful and what didn’t work? Ask for constructive feedback and use someone outside of the program, if necessary, to help with the process. Include the mentorship program in your employee engagement survey.

A well-planned and well-executed mentorship program can be a low-cost retention plan, resulting in higher job satisfaction, a more engaged workforce, and increased profitability. 

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