Engagement. Retention. Performance. At a time when only 15 percent of employees are engaged at work, more than half are looking for a new job, and global productivity is slowing, those are the metrics on every manager and executive’s mind. Based on recent research, however, there’s one surefire way to boost all three: mentoring, but not just any mentoring will do.
Employee engagement, retention, and performance all soar with mentoring. While this has long been the case, it is especially true today as the global marketplace experiences a generational shift. An increasing number of employees say they are more likely to stay with their employers for at least five years if they receive mentoring. Retention rates get even better when employees are happy with the kind of mentoring they receive. Employees who feel supported and encouraged to develop at work also are more likely to be enthusiastic, high-performers compared to employees who do not feel that way.
Modern mentoring programs go beyond traditional mentoring models to ensure all employees receive the kind of mentoring they want and need to grow in the most efficient way. The virtual design of a modern platform offers three key benefits: accessibility, scalability, and inclusion.
Why Modern Matters
“In today’s highly mobile, micro-actionable world people are accustomed to doing work in bursts from whatever device they have nearby,” says Sophia Morell, principal for eMentorConnect®. “A virtual mentoring program allows participants to access their mentor and content wherever they are for minutes or hours depending on what time they have available.”
This increased accessibility boosts participation in the short and long terms.
“With increased accessibility, participants are more likely to join a mentoring program,” adds Morell. “With more people in mentoring programs, a company builds a culture of mentoring — further benefiting from improved retention and engagement. Millennials, especially, expect easy access to mentors and are comfortable using web-based technology. By providing them with a plethora of mentors through an easily accessible platform, Millennial mentees are more likely to stay at the company.”
A modern, cloud-based platform is also scalable, which solves a common limitation of traditional mentoring methods, and inclusive, which means companies can facilitate growth throughout all departments.
“We often hear that our program admins can’t grow their mentoring programs past 50 to 70 people using traditional mentoring models because it’s just too much to keep up with through email and Excel,” explains Morell. “A modern platform like ours enables them to get away from those manual processes and allow the platform to automate communication, tracking, and content delivery. This allows admins to focus on recruiting more participants, developing content, and growing the mentoring program.
“With a virtual platform, there also is no restriction to who can participate in the mentoring program. This means groups that do not traditionally have access to mentors, such as minorities or women, can have the same access as their non-minority co-workers. And with the ability to run multiple programs with ease, program admins can also create programs tailored to those minority groups.”
Learn more about the value of accessibility through cloud-based virtual mentoring platforms. Request a free demo.
Moving into the Modern Age
Implementing a modern mentoring program that engages and retains employees, while boosting company wide performance, isn’t difficult but it does take a coordinated strategy.
“Add a cloud-based platform,” advises Morell. “This allows participants to access a plethora of mentors from anywhere, on any device. It also offers global connection. It is difficult to connect geographically disparate employees in traditional mentoring programs. Programs with a virtual component allow employees all over the world to connect. That’s important as companies move more toward telecommuting and a global workforce.”
For added benefit, look for a cloud-based platform that enables program admins to require or offer in-person meetings between mentors and mentees in addition to those online.
“With eMentorConnect’s flexible platform program, admins can require participants to meet in person, while still being able to track their participant’s progress,” says Morell. This flexibility enables employees to meet when and how they’re most comfortable while still allowing for company oversight.
“Make it more inclusive, too,” she adds. “Opening up your mentoring programs to the diverse range of talent at your company means you’ll be tapping into your most valuable asset — your people! We’ve seen a lot of success with company-wide voluntary programs where mentees and mentors can request a partner around a skill they would like to develop, or just to network. Instead of employees reaching out to HR or static resources for assistance, they now can connect with an SME within the company.”
Companies also need to understand that modern mentoring is more than just a simple mentor-mentee relationship. It’s about content and relationship cultivation, too.
“Most traditional mentoring programs consider mentorship to be exclusively the partnership between the two employees,” explains Morell. “At eMentorConnect® we believe a modern mentorship also includes content. Content can be light and just focused on creating basic goals for the mentorship, or more robust, such as focusing on the transfer of technical knowledge. But it needs to be included. Content allows for mentees and mentors to focus on something while they are building their relationship, which increases engagement and decreasing the chances of mentorships ‘fizzling out’ after a couple meetings.
“Finally, prove ROI! One of the biggest challenges HR and training and development leaders face is proving a return on their traditional mentoring programs. Because modern mentoring programs use software to track participant’s activities and feedback, we are able to track the progress each user makes. This data can be used to demonstrate the individual mentee’s growth as well as the overall impact of the program.”
Mentoring can put a measurable ROI on your leadership training. Learn more on our webinar.