Why a mentorship program can help your organization win the talent war

It’s National Mentoring Month. Here’s why meaningful mentorship programs are so necessary for employees to learn, connect, and grow in a hybrid world.

Today, unemployment has fallen to levels not seen in a generation. At the same time, workers continue to leave their jobs at a record rate. The resulting dynamic, what some have called the war for talent, has left many employers scrambling to fill vacancies, while looking for ways to satisfy their existing employees.

The challenge has been amplified by the introduction of hybrid working. It is not only becoming increasingly common for new employees to be hired remotely, but also to continue working without ever meeting any of their colleagues in person.

As a result, employees may feel detached from their colleagues from day one, which may put them at greater risk of jumping ship.

While some of these challenges can be addressed by redesigning your onboarding program, there is another often overlooked tool that organizations can rely on to help employees feel connected and valued in the workplace: a mentor. .

“Mentorships are essential in the modern workplace because they provide a way for employees to learn, connect and grow alongside someone they might not have had the chance otherwise,” says Todd Moran, chief learning strategist at Novo Ed. “Especially for more junior employees or new hires to the organization, the lack of casual conversation at work poses a risk to their overall well-being, longevity, and even career trajectory with the company.”

“I believe the practice of mentoring comes down to a conversation with someone with lived experiences who supports their goals,” says Chris Motley, CEO of Mentor spaces, a community-driven mentoring platform designed to support companies’ DEI efforts while advancing the careers of underrepresented professionals. “A mentorship program can boost relationship culture and employer branding, making it easier for companies to target internship and job opportunities to people who are already familiar with their brands.”

In celebration of National Mentoring Month, I asked Moran and Motley to share some tips on why mentoring programs are win-win opportunities for employees, mentors, and organizations.

(This is the first article in a two-part series.)

Allow employees to get started quickly

A July 2021 survey indicates that young employees entering the workforce fear being left behind due to remote work.

This makes sense since they can’t rely on a colleague working in the office next to them to answer even simple questions about standard processes or best practices. They also fear that they will not be able to develop their professional network to advance their careers without having the opportunity to meet more experienced leaders in the kitchen or the elevator.

But that’s where an effective mentorship program comes in, Moran says. “Not only can a mentor help an employee learn and grow on the job,” he says, “it also keeps them engaged with their colleagues and the organization in a structured setting. The values ​​and capacities of the company are also acquired more easily in a safe environment and in the context of the organization and the specific role of each learner.

A mentorship program, especially a community-based effort, can be particularly helpful in helping young, underrepresented employees start their careers on an equal footing.

Motley cites what has become known as “The Network Gap,” where underrepresented professionals lack access to the kinds of social and professional connections that can often help jump-start a young employee’s career. Creating a space for these people to have conversations and develop relationships with experts, on the other hand, helps them unlock what he calls “career currency.”

“Community-driven mentoring bridges the ‘network gap’ by facilitating conversations with those who can provide the access underrepresented talent needs to move forward,” says Motley. “We want to empower underrepresented students and professionals to have those conversations with ‘in the know’ experts to give them the confidence and social capital to advance in their careers.”

“With Community-Driven Mentoring, we foster a world where everyone can mentor, receive mentorship, and grow professionally.”

The benefits of virtual mentoring

Virtual and hybrid mentorship programs also have real benefits, as they increase the number of mentorships available to young professionals. Hybrid mentorships, unlike their in-person counterparts, expand the pool from which mentors and mentees can connect.

“Using virtual tools like Zoom enables employees to reach beyond their current team, department and geographic location to gain professional support and growth opportunities from mentors in different regions, across another team or in a new area of ​​practice within their company,” says Moran. “There are fewer frictions and barriers for young professionals to overcome to participate.”

Virtual and hybrid mentorships also provide the opportunity for asynchronous learning, allowing mentees to do prep work like reading articles or watching videos at their own pace, then meeting up with their mentor to chat and learn from each other. others.

“Offering hybrid and virtual mentoring programs is a great way to level the playing field and ensure that all employees, regardless of where they choose to work, have the same opportunities for growth and development” , says Moran.

Continue the conversation

At a time when retaining and attracting talent is so critical and challenging for organizations, mentorship offers a great opportunity to use your existing leaders to help create the kind of diverse, inclusive and engaged culture that sets you apart. others.

In part two of this article, I’ll share Moran and Motley’s insights into how an effective mentoring program serves the career goals of both mentors and those being mentored. I’ll also cover some of their advice on how to make a mentorship program work for your organization.

Virginia S. Braud