But what about for organizations? They’re normally the ones footing the bill for any formal corporate mentoring program, so what’s the payback? Here are 7 key benefits of mentoring for organizations.
1. Develop New Leaders
KPMG’s Leaders Engaging Leaders program pairs 60 top managers with members of the management committee, the board of directors, and national managing partners. The benefit for these 60 protégés is that they have access to people at the very top level of the company, gaining sponsors who can help them find their way to senior positions.
The benefit for KPMG is that it helps the company’s senior leaders see who the most talented people are a couple of rungs down the ladder, and prepare those people for advancement. It’s led to several promotions, including one protégé being promoted to the board of directors.
Erick Kostner, manager of Organizational Development at Sigma Aldrich, says of their Everwise workplace mentoring program: “When we choose to invest in our people with a program like this we’re doing it for two reasons. First, to increase their ability to lead in a complex environment and second to anchor them to the organization. I think that this program is successful on both fronts.”
2. Retain Your Best Talent
As Koshner touched on above, corporate mentoring significantly improves employee retention. The link between mentoring and talent retention is proven not only by several academic studies, but in real corporate success stories. Within GlaxoSmithKline’s finance division, for example, turnover among participants in its mentoring program was just 2%, compared with 27.5% among other employees.
We’ve previously referred to data published in Harvard Business Review which shows that young high achievers are considering leaving their posts – with a lack of mentoring as one of the key reasons. A comprehensive enterprise mentoring program can help you hold onto those people and give them the long-term support they want.
Erick Koshner agrees: “I think that [mentoring] may have an even bigger impact on retention as it’s giving us an excellent way to demonstrate our commitment to these emerging leaders in a way that shows a great deal of respect to the talent they bring.”
3. Increase Diversity
Large companies like IBM, Ernst & Young and Kraft Foods have specific crosscultural mentoring programs to increase diversity. Studies have found that formal corporate mentoring programs are one of the most critical ways of retaining women and people from traditionally underrepresented communities, and can contribute significantly to their development in leadership roles. If you want to see similar benefits in your organization, a mentoring program is a good place to start.
4. Improve Employee Satisfaction
Numerous studies have found that mentoring increases employee satisfaction. One example, a study of military personnel, found that those with mentors had significantly higher job satisfaction than those without mentors. Happier employees are good for companies in a multitude of ways, including higher productivity and lower turnover.
5. Transmit Corporate Culture
Every company or organization has its own culture. When Canada’s defense agency DRDC analyzed the effectiveness of its mentoring program, it listed the transmission of organizational culture as one of the key benefits.
“A strong corporate culture provides members with a collective core values base, thereby providing implicit knowledge of what is expected, valued and likely rewarded by the organization,” wrote the report’s author. Surveys of mentees found a “statistically significant effect for increasing their understanding of organizational culture.”
6. Recruit New Talent
As well as holding onto your best staff, you can also attract the best new recruits by having a successful mentorship program. As that HBR data shows, millennials are looking for mentoring and other long-term development from their employers, so if you can provide that, it’s a powerful way to attract top talent.
7. Have “Deep Sensors”
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh identified one of the more overlooked benefits of workplace mentoring as positioning “deep sensors” within the organization.
What they meant was that executives can get a better sense of workforce mood and attitude through their relationships with protégés, gaining “early warning signals” of potential problems. While mentors must treat any specific information passed on by a protégé as confidential, the general insights can help managers stay more in tune with what’s happening at different levels of the organization.