Updated: Dec 8, 2021
Companies around the world are paying more attention to employee engagement, especially as more studies show how employee engagement directly impacts productivity.
One of the key components of employee engagement is the opportunity for growth and development at the workplace. According to JobStreet, career development opportunities are very important to Malaysian workers, with almost 50% of survey respondents saying that “on the job development and coaching” is a must-have. This means that opportunities for technical training, leadership training, and mentoring programmes are at the forefront of candidates’ minds when searching for new roles.
As we learn more about the career development opportunities workers are attracted to, companies need to actively design employee experiences that incorporate learning and development opportunities, alongside other measures, to improve overall employee engagement.
How does mentoring help with employee learning and development?
The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) defines mentoring as “an intentional, developmental relationship (where) a more experienced and knowledgeable person nurtures the professional life of a less experienced, less knowledgeable person.”
A mentor is usually someone who, compared to the mentee, has been in the company or profession longer and has greater authority in that space. According to the CCL, “it is the combination of experience and position that enables the mentor to have a significant impact on a mentee.”
Mentoring opportunities throughout the employee lifecycle
Culture Amp, the employee experience platform, outlines seven different stages in the employee lifecycle:
Attract and recruit
It’s important to understand that each stage of the employee lifecycle brings its own unique challenges, which means the needs of employees are always evolving. To deliver the best employee experience possible, HR teams and L&D teams need to create intentional support systems for employees. This is where mentoring can help.
Stage 1: Attract and recruit
At this stage, candidates are learning about your company and assessing the opportunities you can offer, all while trying to figure out if you’re a right fit for them. As I mentioned earlier, candidates want jobs that will let them grow and learn on the job. If you offer mentoring and learning opportunities, make sure to highlight them in your recruitment marketing materials.
How to use mentoring during Recruitment
Companies interested in recruiting from universities and colleges can benefit from having employees assume career mentorship roles to help undergraduates learn more about the industry and the company. HR teams can also offer mentorship and advice to support candidates through the application and assessment process.
Stage 2: Onboard
During onboarding, new hires are still sussing out your company and figuring out if they’ve made the right choice. A well-structured onboarding programme that properly supports new hires can improve immediate productivity and retention in the first three years by as much as 69%. Unfortunately, only 12% of employees think that their companies do a good job onboarding new hires.
How to use mentoring during Onboarding
Do you remember what it was like on your first day at your company? How did you figure out the best way to communicate with your manager? What did you learn about your company’s culture you wished someone had told you earlier?
It’s these nuanced and difficult-to-pinpoint-circumstances where a mentor can be incredibly helpful to new hires. Apart from showing them where the good lunch spots are, mentors can help new hires navigate the intangible parts of your organisation, greatly improving their onboarding experience along the way.
Stage 3: Engage
Most of your workers will fall in the next three stages of the employee lifecycle. Those in this stage are, according to Culture Amp, learning more about your company and its values. If done right, it should lead to “greater motivation, commitment, and connection”.
How to using mentoring for Engagement
Diversity-driven mentoring programmes can drastically improve engagement and retention of underrepresented groups in the workplace. According to this study, 30% of women said their mentoring relationship was extremely important compared to 23% of men. 32% of minorities found mentorship extremely important compared to 27 % of the overall sample.
It is widely known that women and minority groups tend to face more obstacles in the workplace and are more likely to burn out. A mentor who is able to look out for them and help them navigate tricky situations can level the playing field, bring more equality to the workplace, and help them excel at work.
Stage 4: Develop
In this stage, your employees should be receiving consistent and useful feedback about their performance, as well as the tools and support they need to grow. Examples of opportunities to develop professionally include leading a project for the first time, a promotion to a managerial position, or even increasing someone’s scope of work and responsibilities.
How to use mentoring for Development
Creating a mentoring programme for new managers can be a great way to support employees learning to handle their new set of responsibilities. New managers often have to go through intense upskilling, whether that’s learning to communicate better or figuring out how to manage a team.
A mentor who can guide managers through these new challenges with honest and practical advice can make a world of difference not only to the new managers themselves, but also to the teams they lead.
Stage 5: Perform
Workers at this stage are evaluated for their performance and recognised for their achievements. Before annual performance reviews and important career conversations, managers should be talking to their direct reports about their career goals and checking up on their progress on a regular basis.
How to use mentoring to improve Performance
Mentoring programmes for high performing individuals can be a great way to accelerate their career progression while filling your talent pipeline with future leaders. Mentors can help their mentees identify their strengths and weaknesses, highlight career opportunities, and help mentees craft a career plan to reach their goals.
Stage 6: Exit
There are a million reasons why employees choose to depart your company. Employees might have outgrown the company and are keen to take on bigger challenges, or they might switch jobs because of better compensation and prestige. Perhaps they’re looking for better work-life balance or want to relocate closer to home. It could also be the case that they’ve been underperforming or the role they were hired for just wasn’t the right fit.
No matter the reason, managers and HR teams are typically the ones who take charge of resignation or termination conversations, exit interviews, handovers, and so on.
How to use mentoring to improve Exit conversations
It’s comforting to know that mentor-mentee relationships do not have to end after someone has left the company. In fact, mentoring conversations can help mentees work through the challenges of leaving a company, the process of searching and applying for a new job, and starting at a new company.
Stage 7: Alumni
Most large corporations will have a network of people who have left the company and moved on to different roles and industries. According to Culture Amp, an alumni network can be a great way to stay in touch with ex-colleagues and “cheer on the company from the sidelines”. If employees had a great experience working at your company, they’re likely to refer future talent to your company as well.
How to use mentoring to improve the Alumni experience
Mentorship, whether amongst peers or between older and younger colleagues, can be a great way to continue learning and development long after an individual has left the company. While it is likely that these opportunities are voluntary and less structured, these mentor relationships are likely to offer valuable support and co-learning opportunities.
Mentorship offers a personal approach to growth and development at the workplace, which can greatly improve their employee experience throughout their tenure with you. Workers who thrive on new challenges, enjoy exploring new opportunities and are curious about the way your business works will benefit greatly from having a mentor steer their attention and energy towards long-term goals.
Ultimately, when done right, mentorship can help companies and HR teams identify star performers, sharpen their skills, and set them up for management and leadership positions in the future.
Get connected with FutureLab
FutureLab connects students, working professionals, and entrepreneurs to industry experts through mentoring. Individuals get to learn from field experts across the region, gain new skills, and accelerate their career growth, We also provide mentoring software to corporations and learning institutions to help upskill and engage their workforce and graduates, all while improving the efficiency and productivity of L&D teams. Learn more about our corporate solutions by scheduling a call with us today!