What is the value of mentors in the office?

Can investing in more authentic partnerships help retain talent?

What is the value of mentors in the office?

It is quite common in large offices to have a mentor program. An experienced peer can provide younger staff with both practical work, business and life advice if needed.

It also helps embed younger staff to the company so that any early instances of uncertainty or mis-communication can be sorted out quickly and effectively.

But does a mentor play a long-term role in career development? With the average Gen Z employee barely lasting two years, is it time to ditch the mentor and provide better job opportunities and/or training?

“Mentors are invaluable to businesses of all sizes,” Deb Fribbins, owner of Developing Excellence in Business. “Good mentors will offer advice based on the outcomes of analytics of the business compared to the business goals. This will vary dependent on the size of the business and the goals set.”

Of course, there are different kind of mentors depending on the size of the business and who is seeking the mentoring, but when it comes to identifying talent in the company and setting a strategic career path for them, it is important a plan is put in place for a mentorship to work.

“When identifying a succession plan for employees with potential, a mentor's involvement from the start will guide the individual to achieve the results identified,” Fribbins added. “An employee may have excellent interpersonal skills with those around them and support their fellow workers in set tasks but need more support in the technical or planning roles.

“Conversely, an employee may be excellent with planning and utilising the technical skills required but lack interpersonal skills. These two scenarios will be unsuccessful without mentoring to the required goal posts.”

Human resources has a strategic role to play in the direction of the program and its tactical implementation.

“Human resources should be fully integrated at all levels,” Fribbins added. “The human resource managers in discussion with both the potential mentee and the managers they are responsible to will identify the goalposts and the needs to be supported.

“Human resource managers will then be able to source the right person with the skillsets needed for each candidate. Mentors also have different skillsets that work better in some areas and with certain personality traits. The key role of human resources is to marry the right mentor with the right mentee.”

Despite the inevitable high employee turnover, most firms believe that mentors are as invaluable as ever.

“Mentorship is essential to employee retention, growth and satisfaction — especially for women and minority groups,” Sarah Gross, creative director at Storyfolk, said. “Mentoring should be seen as a vital part of any business as at the heart of mentoring is relationships, growth and fulfilment, which helps staff feel engaged, empowered and aligned with the business goals and culture, which helps foster innovation, employee engagement and better business.”

Organisations still see value in appointing a senior member of staff to look after a new employee, particularly if they are on a graduate program. A level of trust can be quickly established if a rapport can be built between the two. It can also benefit the mentor.

“The right mentor can leave a lasting impact on someone's entire life,” Gross said. “It's also just as rewarding for the mentor as it is for the mentee because seeing someone flourish is a pretty powerful and rewarding part of anyone's job.

“It's much more than support or someone to bounce ideas off. It's a safe space that can transform people's confidence, progression and happiness. A great mentor can help staff achieve more and reach their potential by giving guidance, friendship, advice and assistance with challenging situations. 

“Implementing mentoring in the workplace is not only about what your business can gain but as a way to nurture your people, culture and vision for the company.”

Engaging a mentoring program may not stop Generation Z walking out the door, but it may delay their exit and even encourage them to return to your company at a later date.

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