Do you encourage your staff to use a mentor? Do you have a mentoring scheme in place? Let’s be honest a mentoring scheme is often not the first benefit that goes on the list when you are trying to entice candidates to your business.? Health, retirement, flexible working and well-being benefits tend to be at the front of the queue. And rightly so, but I think that mentoring schemes can sometimes be taken for granted and deserve some more attention in terms of the value and benefit they can bring to an organization, its employees, and its employer brand.
Before I go on, I’d like to briefly describe what I mean by a mentor or a mentoring program. In its most straightforward form, mentoring is a professional relationship where a more experienced person (mentor) coaches another individual (the mentee) in order to help him or her develop both personally and professionally. In a corporate mentoring program, the employer recruits a pool of willing mentors from its internal workforce and proteges can choose and work with mentors to help their own personal and career development in their organization.
But, why is it so important to develop the employer brand? There are four ways I think that mentoring can really enhance your employer’s brand and I have outlined these below:
1. It’s a universal benefit
In this day and age where we have four generations working alongside each other in the workplace, branding specialists try to develop employee offering that appeal to all generations. This is, of course, a challenge as one size does not suit all, but I regard a mentoring program as a universal benefit that has benefits to all generations.
For example, we know that one of the key motivating factors for Millennials and to a lesser extent Gen X is the potential for personal and career development. So, a mentoring program means that younger workers can have access to a network of older, more experienced workers to aid their career development.
Older workers can benefit from the reverse mentoring that can occur during these relationships, helping them to modernize their skill set, (typically in areas of new technology). But, mentoring also helps older workers enhance their own coaching and leadership skills and it will give them exposure to people of different backgrounds and personalities. Also, research from the University of Miami suggests that mentors are more productive, less stressed and better socialized.
2. It is a proven career development tool
Take the example of Sun Microsystems reported in Forbes who have a very effective mentorship program. They looked at the career progression of 1,000 employees over five years and found the following benefits of employee mentoring for both mentor and mentee:
- Both mentors and mentees were approximately 20 percent more likely to get a raise than people who did not participate in the mentoring program.
- Twenty-five percent of mentees and twenty-eight percent of mentors received a raise – versus only five percent of managers who were not mentors.
- Employees who received mentoring were promoted FIVE times more often than people who didn’t have mentors.
- Mentors were SIX times more likely to have been promoted to a bigger job.
- Mentoring is a powerful staff retention tool.
We have written just recently about a Gallup survey, which showed that one of the top reasons that people quit (and I acknowledge that people leave for a combination of reasons), was lack of career development opportunities. Since mentoring has been shown to be a powerful career development tool, it can help to create a more engaging environment and help you to retain staff.
So, there you have it: mentoring programs may not be the most high-profile staff benefit, but they are clearly one of the most effective in terms of the positive impact it can have on career development in your business and your overall employer brand.