A successful mentoring scheme can be simple yet effective, thus helping in employee retention and engagement, experts from Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) point out.
In a year like no other, when the pandemic has wrought professional disruption and social isolation, mentoring can provide the connection that employees need to re-engage and even retain them at work.
An effective mentoring programme can help to nurture a positive work culture for the organisation. A study showed that two in three fresh Singaporean graduates who quit their first job in under a year cited the desire for more professional growth, rather than higher pay, as the main reason1.
Organisations that lack mentoring programmes could also be missing out on a crucial opportunity to transfer knowledge and skills, build team rapport and mutual understanding to cultivate a more engaged workforce overall.
A successful mentoring scheme can be simple yet effective and support better employee retention and engagement for the organisation. Here are three guiding tips on mentoring to get you started:
Make mentoring an intentional arrangement
Mentoring programmes can be beneficial for the mentor and the employee being mentored (mentee) if clear objectives are set and the mentoring arrangement is time-bound.
With a short-term and goal-oriented mentoring relationship, mentees will intentionally identify specific areas that they would like to develop further, helping them to maximise the guidance provided. Additionally, an employee may even be mentored by multiple individuals over the course of their employment, adding to their wealth of knowledge and skills that can be applied at work.
For mentors, a mentoring arrangement with a timeframe and set frequency of meetings, will help them focus on specific ways they would like to support and guide their mentees within the specified period. Also, with these healthy boundaries in place, the mentoring programme is likely to attract more mentors, making it sustainable in the long run.
For new hires, having a mentor may help them understand the office culture and assimilate faster. They are also likely to pick up work-related skills quicker with targeted attention, increasing the likelihood of them experiencing success and being actively engaged on the job.
In the case of longer-serving employees, being mentored can provide valuable professional development opportunities such as exposure to new areas of work, networking and being coached on specific areas that they would like to improve on. With this, employees continue to learn and grow with the organisation and are unlikely to be stagnant or disengaged at work.
Align individual and organisational values and goals
According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2021 report2, nearly 85% of employees globally remain unengaged at work despite employee engagement programme efforts. Thus, creating an authentic connection is critical in a good mentoring programme.
In an effective mentoring programme, mentors aim to understand their mentees’ sense of purpose, values and goals and guide them to see how these are aligned with those of the organisation. By syncing both interests, employees have a sense of contributing to a bigger purpose and working towards a mutual goal – making them more likely to be invested in the organisation for the long term.
With their wealth of practical experience, mentors are often able to empathise with the challenges that their mentees face and can offer practical guidance and insights on how to overcome these.
Expand existing mentoring practices
Once the organisation has established a traditional one-on-one mentoring programme, additional types of mentoring may be introduced to complement it. For example, reverse mentoring enables junior employees to share unique skillsets or alternative viewpoints with more senior colleagues.
Another possibility is peer mentoring, where an employee with more experience may mentor a colleague at the same career level, in order to share skills and knowledge. This not only leads to increased levels of expertise across teams but also stronger interpersonal relationships at the workplace.
As the workplace evolves, employers can leverage new tools and trends to complement and extend traditional mentoring programmes. For example, as more organisations use virtual communication tools and platforms, some may opt for online mentoring sessions. Mentees who have been identified as having leadership potential may be invited by mentors to sit in on virtual meetings, which is an unobtrusive option, compared to introducing a fresh face in physical meetings.
While a mentoring programme does not need to be complex and can offer different types of mentoring options that meet the organisation’s and employees’ needs, one key factor that remains constant is the relational aspect of mentoring. A successful mentoring programme should nurture mentor-mentee relationships that help individuals to better themselves at work, and ultimately form a more connected, cohesive organisation.
Take the Fair and Progressive Employment Index (FPEI), a free online self-assessment tool that allows employers to evaluate organisational workplace culture and benchmark their practices against industry peers. The FPEI offers insights and recommendations on how employers can leverage their workforce for better business and employee results.
1 Nearly 1 in 3 grads quit first job in less than a year: Survey. (2021). Retrieved 29 October 2021, from https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/nearly-1-3-grads-quit-first-job-less-year-survey
2 Gallup, I. (2021). How to Improve Employee Engagement in the Workplace. Retrieved 29 October 2021, from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/285674/improve-employee-engagement-workplace.aspx
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