In the “Odyssey” by Homer, Odysseus assigned the care and education of his son, Telemachus, to his trusted advisor Mentor. Borrowing from this ancient epic, today we use Mentor’s name to refer to someone who uses their knowledge to advise a less-experienced colleague.
Over the last several decades, U.S. businesses have adopted mentoring as a training vehicle, mainly for young or new employees. Among Fortune 500 companies, 70 percent offer formal mentoring programs to employees.
While some companies have structured mentoring processes, most smaller companies don’t. But mentoring new employees can take place without a formal program and with little to no expense.
Mentorships can be an employee retention and recruiting tool
Young or new employees can learn their jobs faster and expand their skill set if coached by experienced mentors. Together, they can tackle issues related to problem-solving, communication, collaboration, networking, and more.
Mentors get the satisfaction of using their knowledge to assist someone just starting out in their profession or a new position. They might benefit in other ways—many mentors report that they learn from their mentees. For example, mentors may learn about new technologies from younger employees.
Companies with formal mentoring programs generally find they improve employee satisfaction among participants. This, in turn, can improve employee retention, which is always an advantage. Employers can also use it as a recruiting tool.
Regardless of company size, employers should formulate a plan for their mentoring programs. At a minimum, they should address these questions suggested by Mentor Scout, a developer of software for mentoring programs:
- What are the objectives of your mentoring program? What do you want it to accomplish?
- How will you identify and select mentors and match them to employees?
- How will you measure the success of individual mentorships and the overall program?
To increase the likelihood of a successful experience, mentor and mentee should first:
- Establish guidelines, e.g., where and when to meet and what communications to have between meetings.
- Decide on the goal and objectives that will need to be met to achieve it.
- Choose activities, exercises or other steps that will help achieve the objectives.
For more information on cross-generational relationships at work, check out our earlier blog post, “How to bridge the workplace generation gap and build cooperative teams and positive outcomes.”
If you need assistance with workplace communications, training, hiring, or recruiting, give us a call at our office in Lancaster, PA at 717-560-2111 or contact us online. As a recruiting agency, a temp agency, and an HR consulting firm, we would be glad to partner with you for a solution to your HR challenges. Our professional staffing service team has more than 60 combined years of administrative staffing, recruiting, and HR consulting experience.