coach giving instruction to a young female swimmerAs many of you may be aware, we are, for the first time in history, experiencing a workplace that has four generations working alongside each other: millennials, generation X, baby boomers and silents.

This multi-generational environment creates real challenges to benefits package designers and employer branding specialists as they seek to define and develop a business offering that attracts and engages employees from each generational grouping – all of which have important roles to play in their workforce and each of which having subtly different preferences for what they would like from their employer. For example, millennials are more inclined toward international travel/working and stretching experiences; generation X are seeking to consolidate their careers, getting their first SVP, EVP while balancing family commitments; baby boomers and silents are loyal, and risk averse and looking to progress on a steady upward trajectory to the latter stages of their careers.

One size fits all?

It’s a challenge to find benefits and offerings and a culture that will appeal equally well to all generations, which is why many employers opt for a diverse but balanced package with some benefits favoring some generational groups more than others. But, the overall point is that each generational group is on balance attracted to and engaged by the overall benefits offering.

In the case of mentoring, one size can really fit all

In light of this multi-generational environment, one benefit which I feel is now taking on greater significance is a mentoring scheme, which, in its simplest form, is a professional relationship where the more experienced party (mentor) helps another person (the mentee) to acquire new knowledge which will ultimately lead to the mentee experiencing personal and professional growth.

Mentoring is becoming increasingly relevant to the modern multi-generational workplace because it has the power to connect with and engage with each generation, no matter what stage of their career they may be at. Ambitious young millennials can access mentors to help them shape and develop their careers and generation X can access mentors to help them as they progress into their first senior roles, which require substantial decision making. Baby boomers and the silent generation are all in position to offer mentoring to their younger, less experienced counterparts – and at the same time benefit from reverse mentoring in newer areas, such as social media and technology. The benefits for mentors don’t stop there as research from the University of Miami shows that people who mentor are often more productive, better socialized and less stressed.

But, it’s not just that mentoring programs are all things to all people and are a universal benefit, which have the power to engage all generations. Research has shown that they are an important career development tool. Just consider the career progress study that Sun did of 1,000 employees over a five-year period; this is what they found:

  • Both mentors and mentees were approximately 20% more likely to get a raise than people who did not participate in the mentoring program.
  • 25% of mentees and 28% of mentors received a raise – versus only 5% 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.

So mentoring schemes are an excellent career development tool and since we know that lack of career opportunities/development is one of the key reasons that people are leaving organizations today, mentoring programs are also a key staff retention device for all generations of staff.

This is why I think that corporate mentoring schemes are a key benefit for the modern age and which are currently being used in some of the world’s leading and innovative organizations, such as Sun, IBM and Intel.



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