Demonstrable results matter. Corporate boards and executive members restrict or eliminate funding for initiatives that don’t prove measurable success. A mentoring program is no exception, and while Gartner estimates the minimum return on investment (ROI) of a mentoring program to be 600 percent of the program’s costs, few companies know how to effectively gauge that ROI.
Understanding ROI of Mentoring
“It’s about the pain point,” says Nancy Wolk, founder and principal of online mentoring solution provider eMentorConnect. “Define whatever isn’t working in your organization — people are leaving, people aren’t engaged, cross-functional collaboration is non-existent — and then show how your program helps fix that. That’s the ROI of mentoring. Mentoring improves the pain point.”
“When I started the women and leadership program at Pfizer, for example, I had to put together a budget and present it to the senior VPs,” Wolk adds. “They asked me why we needed the program, and I focused on the pain point: We had a 50/50 split between men and women at our sales rep level, but only 8 percent were women at the second management level. We needed more women in leadership roles. And while I explained this, I remember thinking how great it would be to demonstrate the increase in women posting for roles and the increase in them getting those promotions the following year. It’s much easier to get the money you need when you can show how much improvement you’ve made.”
Identifying Pain Points
Pain points may center on common issues (such as retention of high-performers, employee engagement, leadership development, and skill gaps), or they may focus on more specific concerns, such as growing investments in development courses. Workshops, for example, are common, high-cost corporate expenditures that often provide a short boost of enthusiasm. When the boost fades, so do the benefits from the thousands of dollars spent. Coupling that workshop with a mentoring program, however, fixes the pain point by creating a longer-term investment that continues to propel employees forward.
“After a workshop, everyone is so excited,” explains Wolk, “but then they get back to the office and they have 300 emails to answer and a backlog of tasks. Three to four days later, they can’t remember how to start implementing those lessons. The learnings lose their momentum.
“What we do at eMentorConnect changes that. We pair workshop attendees with mentors, and we build content in KNOX® (our digital mentoring solution) that is related to the workshop content. Then participants discuss that content, and the ways in which they’re applying it, with their mentors over a longer period of time. This produces results we see over and over again. The same participants who (when asked immediately after the workshop) said they had maybe a four or five-level mastery over the workshop skills start to report mastery levels of nine or 10. Those key learnings stick, and the original investment in the workshop grows and produces sustainable results.”
Evaluating ROI of Mentoring
Evaluating success requires a thorough understanding of a program’s objective — the end goal — which ties back to the organizational pain points. Once an objective is defined, it can be made measurable, which is key to proving ROI.
“Metrics prove your success,” says Wolk, “and your metrics should always be tied back to your mentoring program objectives. If they are, you will truly be able to measure your ROI. All survey questions, user profile design, and participant matching should connect to your objectives. Do you want to measure the increase in your workforce’s digital skills, the preparedness of your future leaders, how much improvement you’re driving in retention and engagement, or an increase in applicable leadership skills or women posting for positions? Whatever you want to see, that’s what you measure.
“Mentoring is well known to improve employee retention and engagement, but you still have to define success in order to prove ROI. With the eMentorConnect solution, our clients see engagement and retention improvements, but they also show an increase in leadership competencies from 41 to 93 percent. Overall knowledge about the company also experiences an eight-fold increase. These numbers represent demonstrable success in improving specific pain points, and we know that matters. At eMentorConnect, we share our years of best practices to make sure your program will deliver ROI that is meaningful to you.”
Are you ready to see how a web-based corporate mentoring program can transform your organization and generate ROIs of 600 to 1000 percent? Schedule a demo of eMentorConnect’s powerful KNOX® solution today.