A study presented by the U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts that millennials are increasingly making up more of the workforce. In the same vein, another study predicts that millennials will compose 50% of the global workforce by 2020. As the composition of the workforce changes, mentorship programs are gaining in value because these programs are important to millennials. In fact, a recent study by Deloitte states that millennials are more likely to stay with an organization if they have a mentor. 98% of millennials believe that having a mentor relationship is important to career success according to the 14th Annual Global CEO Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Perhaps because of the desire to retain millennials, or perhaps because of the many other advantages, companies are trending towards having mentorship programs. The majority of Fortune 500 companies, as many as 71%, have mentorship programs (American Society for Training & Development). Among the Fortune 500 companies with mentorship programs are companies like General Electric, Intel, and Google to name a few.
Recruiting millennials is only one of many reasons for why companies should incorporate mentorship. Mentorship is beneficial for the organization and individuals alike. Mentorship can be used for instruction (developing technical skills and knowledge), building leaders (mentors teach leadership skills to their mentee), and planning for succession (prime mentees to step into advanced positions). Reverse mentoring is also worthwhile as it allows younger generations to pair with older ones so that the older generation can be instructed in newer technology and skills. Overall, mentorship relationships improve the socialization experience of the mentee and increases the attachment and engagement of employees.
Unfortunately, despite the clear worth of mentorship programs, real world applications of these programs do not always incorporate the best practices suggested by research. We recommend trying to incorporate these empirical findings to maximize returns from these programs.
Research findings worth consideration:
· Both the mentor and the mentee benefit more from the mentorship relationship when they have input in how they are matched (Allen, Eby, & Lentz, 2006).
· More is learned when the participants of the mentorship relationship are more similar (Allen & Eby, 2003).
· Informal mentorship is the best form of mentorship, but more formalized programs are better than no mentorship at all (Chao, Walz & Gardner, 1992).
· Different types of mentorship can be harnessed different to yield different outcomes.
· Psychosocial mentoring (including behaviors like counseling, role modeling, and providing acceptance) improved self-esteem and job satisfaction while career mentoring (i.e., coaching, protection, and exposure) was also related to improved task performance and objective measures of career success such as salary and promotions (Allen, Eby, Poteet, & Lentz, 2004).
· Mentors benefited from personal gratification and greater leadership skills (Eby & Lockwood, 2005).
· Mentorship benefits exist past the initial intervention (Chao, 1997). Specifically, mentorship programs are believed to reduce turnover – not just immediately but even up to 10 years later (Payne & Huffman, 2005)
· Mentor training is a key aspect to keeping mentors involved in the program and providing psychosocial support (Allen, Eby, & Lentz, 2006).
Perhaps because of their missions, social impact organization can uniquely benefit from mentorship programs. For instance, millennials are often especially drawn to these organizations and are more likely to stay with organizations when they have mentors. Moreover, many of these organizations often have a more flexible and amorphous structure where mentorship programs may be especially helpful. The psychosocial forms of mentorships are also beneficial for cultivating the attitude of service that exist in social impact organizations.
The good news is that mentorship programs are not difficult to implement. Mentors and mentees need only be voluntarily solicited, matched based on their respective needs and desired outcomes, and monitored to make sure they are cultivating the types of relationships they desire. Programs can be formalized such that they have requirements about types and frequency of interaction, or they can be allowed to develop naturally. Either way, it is wise to check in with your participants about how the program is operating to measure success.
For more information:
Heffernan, M. (2015, June). Forget the pecking order at work [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_why_it_s_time_to_forget_the_pecking_order_at_work
Sinek, S. (2014, March). Why good leaders make you feel safe [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_why_good_leaders_make_you_feel_safe
Allen, T., Eby, L., & Lentz, E (2006). Mentorship behaviors and mentorship quality associated with formal mentoring programs: Closing the gap between research and practice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(3), 567-578.
Broder-Singer, R. (2011). Why mentoring matters. Retrieved from http://bus.miami.edu/businessmiami/fall2011/features/mentoring_matters.html
Schooley, C. (2010). Drive employee talent development through business mentoring programs. Retrieved from http://www.bu.edu/questrom/files/2013/07/Forrester-Research-Report-Drive-Employee-Talent-Development-Through-Business-Mentoring-Programs.pdf