Can Companies Leverage Mentoring Programmes To Improve Employee Development And Retention?

Updated: Nov 2



The Great Resignation is a global affair.


Back in August 2021, Gallup found that 48% of Americans were actively searching for new jobs. This came just after America’s Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded the highest number of resignations across all industries including retail, business services, and transportation.


Interestingly, a similar wave of resignations is happening in China. People are leaving their full-time jobs with long working hours and relatively low wages in search of better wages and healthier working hours through freelance opportunities.


In other parts of Asia, Microsoft’s Work Trend Index reported 56% of workers in Asia are planning to change their career paths entirely and that 49% of Singaporeans are planning to leave their current roles in the next year.


What’s driving these resignations?


Gallup found that poor employee engagement was a key factor for many of these resignations. Employee engagement can look like an employee having clear expectations about their work, a supervisor or manager taking an interest in their progress and development, and even access to opportunities to learn and grow at work.


Another reason for the sharp increase in turnover is burnout, with 58% of working adults in Singapore feeling overworked and 49% feeling exhausted. Burnout, according to the World Health Organisation is the outcome of chronic workplace stress that has not been managed successfully. In hindsight, this was bound to happen as everyone was suddenly forced into remote work, ill-equipped to exercise their boundaries between work and life, during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.


As we gradually emerge from the pandemic, we’re also seeing more employers force their workers back into the office, ignoring workers’ pleas for more flexibility at work, whether that’s being able to work remotely or having more autonomy over one’s schedule. With the pandemic as evidence that most work can be done anywhere with a stable internet connection, the move to force workers back into the office just doesn’t make sense.


A survey by Ipsos found that 2 in 3 Malaysians prefer working from home either partially or permanently. 73% of Malaysians want their employers to be more flexible in working arrangements while 40% of them said they would look for another job if their employers required them to work from the office full-time.


It should come as no surprise that the lack of care for employee wellbeing and development gradually leads to disengagement which, over time, causes employees to hand in their resignations.


Employee disengagement and high turnover is a costly affair


Based on Gallup’s estimations, the loss of productivity of a disengaged worker equals 15% of their annual salary. This could look like someone taking more sick days or someone regularly turning up late for work. Disengaged employees might also impede the productivity of their more engaged colleagues with constant complaining, missed deadlines, and a lack of willingness to collaborate with others.


Disengaged employees, if not addressed, are more likely to leave their companies. Replacing workers is another costly affair, requiring somewhere between 50% to 200% of an employee’s salary to attract, hire, and onboard.


What should companies do to retain their workers?


Employee engagement should be at the top of your list if you’re interested in retaining your workers, especially your star performers. While an increase in salaries can help with engagement, monetary compensation can only go so far. Other things like better work-life balance and flexibility are just as valuable to today’s workforce.


Employee engagement starts with empowering your managers to have meaningful conversations with their teammates, whether that’s clarifying roles and expectations, praising someone for a job well done, or actively encouraging teammates to grow and learn at work.


Gallup also reported that great managers lead to more loyalty in the workplace.


“It takes more than 20% pay raise to lure more employees away from a manager who engages them, and next to nothing to poach the most disengaged workers.”


Mentoring as a solution


Mentoring programmes can help companies bridge the gap between the needs and wants of employees, and the capacity managers have to manage day-to-day tasks while also overseeing the growth and development of their subordinates.


In a study by Jobstreet, almost 50% of Malaysians said they were attracted to a role with opportunities for on-the-job development and coaching, and nearly 1 in 5 Malaysians said that a mentoring programme was a key factor when deciding which jobs to apply for. These numbers demonstrate workers’ eagerness to learn and grow in the workplace, and highlight the many opportunities for companies to engage their employees with learning and development programmes.


With a well-structured mentorship programme in the workplace, mentors can step in and lighten the load for managers. Mentors with more experience in the company or industry can help their mentees identify their strengths, spot opportunities for growth, and offer valuable advice to navigate professional settings.


Glassdoor also noted that mentoring can be a useful retention tool for Gen Zs. Characterised as achievement-driven workers who value stability and support, mentorship that helps them work towards long-term goals with well-defined markers and room for creativity can be a great way to engage them at the workplace as well.


Retaining your talent should be a priority


In this climate, retaining your top talent should be a priority, especially as we continue to navigate unpredictable months ahead. Offer development opportunities alongside flexibility so that your employees have enough support to get the job done in an environment that works for them. Provide ample opportunities for on-the-job training or mentoring programmes with top management and industry experts.


Lastly, don’t forget that loyalty works both ways - If you want your team to stick with you, you need to show them you will go the extra mile for them too.


Get connected with FutureLab


FutureLab is an online mentorship platform that connects students, working professionals, jobseekers and entrepreneurs with expert industry mentors across the region to help them gain new skills and insights to enhance their employability and career growth. We also provide our mentoring software for corporations, organizations and learning institutions to upskill and engage their workforce and graduates that increases their efficiency and productivity. Sign up as a mentee or join us as mentors today!


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