Learning and development programs are as varied as companies themselves, but there’s one feature that encompasses most of the effective talent management strategies: mentors.
Across many industries, mentoring has been shown to produce solid business outcomes. When implementing or modifying your company’s L&D program, mentoring is one of the best ways to boost employee engagement, create strong leaders for your company and even keep turnover costs in check.
When done right, the benefits of a well-run L&D program touch all corners of your business. Incorporating mentors into your long-term learning and development strategy is a great way to help ensure you’re receiving a high return on your investment. When linked to talent strategy, mentoring can have a positive impact on an organization in a number of different ways, which we explore below.
Mentors strengthen your company’s culture
What does your company stand for? Inclusiveness? Innovation? Whatever your values, they have to be explained and embedded into how your organization acts and makes decisions. Studies show that culture is crucial to an organization’s success. It affects productivity, creativity, growth and so much more.
Values are meaningless when you don’t put them into action, and mentors are a great way to directly exemplify your company’s mission.
If your company values collaboration or volunteering, for example, utilizing mentors in your L&D strategy is a great way to incorporate this value in your day-to-day operations. It allows employees to witness firsthand what your company stands for. Even better if you can pair a mentor and a mentee from different areas of your organization. This breaks down silos and opens the lines of communication across departments.
Mentors boost employee engagement
Employee engagement is crucial to an organization’s success, and mentoring programs have been shown in studies to contribute to a more engaged workforce. Whether external or internal, mentors can help mentees feel more confident about their performance, identify skills that need improvement and work on developing them to help alleviate frustrations.
The employees who are likely to leave a company are those who feel like no one is listening to them and who don’t have a clear career path. Engaged employees, however, are more likely to stay at your company. Studies have shown that people who have the opportunity to serve as mentors experience greater job satisfaction and a higher commitment to their employer.
Mentoring is crucial to engagement. In the past, a mentee’s direct manager was often the person who took on the responsibility of mentoring, but this strategy has a few downsides. Choosing a mentor in a different area of a mentee’s organization or choosing a mentee outside your organization creates objectivity and frees a mentee’s manager from performing this responsibility. It also allows mentees to speak more freely about their concerns.
Mentors help cultivate your company’s next generation of leaders
More and more companies have increased spending on L&D programs. They know that to be successful, they need to invest in developing their people, especially when it comes to cultivating leaders.
When done right, mentoring can aid in succession planning and leadership development by cultivating a path for high potential individuals. Promoting employees from within the company itself has plenty of benefits: lower training costs, improved employee retention, and better morale. Leadership development and internal promotion also sends a good message to employees; they know that their efforts will be recognized and rewarded.
Mentors are personalized and convenient learning strategies
Highly structured, one-size-fits-all learning programs aren’t effective for the simple reason that they don’t work for everyone. Mentoring works because it can be personalized and customized for what an individual needs.
Mentoring allows employees to engage in learning and development at a time that works during their schedule; this is especially valuable during times when the workload is heavy. It makes learning readily accessible and minimizes stress by giving employees the freedom to set up regular meetings whenever they choose.
And as flexible, remote working arrangements become the norm, external mentoring relationships can be useful in training this segment of your workforce. Employees might be out of sight but they don’t have to be out-of-mind when it comes to staying in tune with learning and development at your organization.
Mentors protect your bottom line
In addition to cultivating benefits within your organization, mentoring has cost-effective advantages, too, especially when HR budgets and resources are constrained.
One of the main benefits of mentoring programs is that mentors help their mentees feel supported. This can play a major role in reducing employee turnover — you won’t have to invest as much in costs to hire, on-board and train new employees. Expenses related to turnover are significant. Many studies show that the total cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to twice the person’s annual salary.
By providing personalized advice to a mentee, mentors help minimize turnover because they work with employees to manage frustrations and concerns they may have. They also help them build the skills they need for success and increase the chances that employees will want to stay with your company and grow there over the long-term.