By Anna Morris
From higher profitability and retention rates to better leadership development and increased employee engagement, the evidence is clear: mentorship programs are highly effective. But are they really worth the investment?
Consider this: a Gallup poll of more than 1 million U.S. workers found that 75% of employees who voluntarily left a job did so because of their bosses and not the position itself.
Another Gallup survey showed that 67% of U.S. employees are disengaged at work. The bottom line is that workers, particularly Millennials, aren’t as motivated by pay as generations before them. Today, Millennials and Generation Z seek purpose, development and community; they want coaches over bosses. This is a gap that many companies are struggling to fill.
Mentorship programs can lead to a positive ripple effect for organizations.
A mentor is the bridge between individual and organizational needs. They help employees find their purpose and develop their skills. If an employee receives personal and professional development at work, they’re more likely to be satisfied with their job, which fosters greater employee engagement and retention. And mentees aren’t the only ones benefitting from the program; mentors can gain just as much.
The numbers speak for themselves:
- A report by Kabbage found that 84% of small businesses with mentorship programs reached profitability in their first four years, and 68% of those businesses attained profitability in the first year.
- There is a 72% retention rate for mentees and a 69% retention rate for mentors, compared to only 49% for those who did not participate in a mentorship program. These programs can also result in higher compensation and a greater number of promotions, which can help mentees feel more committed to their careers.
- A study performed by Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that mentorship programs increased minority representation at the management level from 9% to 24% and dramatically improved promotion and retention rates for minorities and women.
Having established the clear benefits of mentorship in the workplace, what about its importance amid COVID-19? Engagement has never been more critical, and Gallup reported in early May that 38% of workers were engaged, up from 13% in both 2018 and 2019. Mentorship can help maintain higher engagement in addition to providing a solution to other challenges associated with the pandemic:
- Employee well-being, which has reached record lows this year according to Gallup, will never be a one-size-fits-all deal. While some workers may be thriving, others could be struggling. Mentorship programs can help prepare leaders by equipping them with the tools and providing the forum needed to manage and address individual situations.
- Mentorship can provide a practical way to invest in employee-to-employee relationships during a crisis and beyond. This year in particular, leaders recognize a need for workplace camaraderie, and a mentorship program can easily be an active step toward nurturing community.
- Mentorship programs introduced during the pandemic can also alleviate the feelings of isolation and loneliness that result from working remotely that cost companies billions of dollars every year under normal circumstances. With employees facing extended work-from-home environments, it’s vital for businesses to find a way to offer more comprehensive support.
Mentorship can have a real impact for businesses, but not all mentorship programs are created equal. Leaders should opt for one that’s community-driven, purposeful and sustainable. Doing this will allow for company-specific solutions and can demonstrate to workers that their employer cares.
Interested in learning how mentorship can fit into your organization’s engagement plans? Our experts would love to help. Contact our team to discuss how a tailored mentorship program could benefit your business and be the first step toward building a stronger community and a more resilient organization.