Employee engagement is at an all-time low. Research from Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2015 indicates that, employee retention and engagement are now the top problems companies face. Two-thirds of the working population have indicated that they would be open for a career move if approached. Bersin’s research shows that companies with high performing learning environments rank top for employee engagement. For some reason, mentoring programmes to increase employee engagement are a much underutilised HR instrument to reduce employee attrition and increase productivity.
Companies continue to struggle to motivate Millennials and maintain employer brands when social proofing means that reports of a poor work culture spread faster than ever. Note the recent Uber scandals. With a reduction in training and leadership development, many of the behaviours which foster engagement are not as deeply embedded in corporate culture as they should be. This is when mentoring programmes can add significant value towards increasing employee engagement.
Benefits of Mentoring programmes
Mentoring programmes offer numerous benefits from addressing skill set deficits, to increased confidence and networking exposure. Yet outside the large corporates most employees have little access to mentors. A phrase that is much quoted is that women need sponsors and are over mentored, does not apply in the world of small businesses. Here female role models are in short supply and mentoring is uncommon. Yet, as a lower budget learning process, mentoring programmes are low cost and relatively easy to set up.
Use mentoring programmes for enhanced employee engagement
Start small and create a pilot
Many companies are too ambitious in the first instance. It’s best to handpick mentors and mentees who are committed to the process. The temptation to make a big splash isn’t necessary. It’s really better to go for an early win with a successful pilot, tested on small numbers to iron out any glitches before going big.
Match mentors and mentees
This should be done with business outcomes as the primary objectives. For a small pilot scheme it’s not necessary to use mentor matching software. The matches should be hand-picked based on skill set and desired outcomes. If the project grows and becomes more sophisticated, then investment can be made at that point. Although it’s important that the pairs get along, they do not need to be best friends to have a successful mentoring relationship.
Train mentors and mentees
Both mentors and mentees should be trained to manage expectations and the process. Male mentors need to be trained in unconscious bias to avoid falling into the sand traps of gender bias and stereotyping.
Keep the admin simple
There is a tendency to introduce too many layers of admin which are a deterrent to the mentor who is more senior and therefore busy. Two important basics:
- Maintain confidentiality
- The mentee should set goals
Simple project management and feedback platforms can be easily adapted.
Set clear protocols
There should be very clear guidelines about the logistics of the mentoring programmes including the length and frequency of sessions and duration of the programme. It’s also important to have a mediation process in the event of a problem.
So if any organisation is concerned about employee engagement and view any employees as a potential flight risk they would be well advised to consider a mentoring programme.
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