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Benefits to using mentorships in the workplace

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by Charlotte Gurney

The multi-generational, complex workforce structures that we have today require a different approach from employers keen to cultivate skills such as relationship building, leadership and strategic thinking. Mentorships offer the opportunity to create closer bonds between different employees and for those who have a wealth of experience to share knowledge with those who could benefit from it. The advantages of this can be felt right across the business.

Mentorships really work

42% of HR decision-makers say that their organizations currently use mentorship programmes. The reasons for doing this are many. The mentor has the benefit of passing on what they have learned during their career, sharing values and making a positive contribution. The mentee is engaged in detailed and practical learning and has access to the kind of insights and lived experience that aren’t available via a training programme or a course. Creative engagement in mentorship programmes can help to improve the bottom line and also support the business’ values. For example, retention rates are 20% higher for those who have been part of mentorship programmes and they have also been found to significantly improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

A positive impact on employee experience

In one survey 90% of HR decision makers said that mentorships impacted on key areas of the business, including employee experience, leadership development, skills development and how effectively an organization was able to attract and retain talent. Mentorships have been identified as a valuable way to pass on soft skills but can also be a conduit for hard skills too, including technical understanding in areas such as software development. Mentorships can be used to address many age-related challenges within a business, whether they relate to a lack of experience - or whether a reverse mentorship programme can be employed to help up-skill older employees in areas such as IT skills.

Optimizing the use of mentorship programmes

There are some clear challenges to implementing a mentorship programme, for example it can be time consuming and may sometimes be unstructured without clear learning outcomes. Mentorships can also be viewed as a one-way street in terms of knowledge transfer etc., leaving the mentor wondering about the benefits of the effort made. Optimizing the use of mentorship programmes means addressing these potential stumbling blocks with a structured approach that integrates technology to help automate some of the more time-consuming elements of delivering this kind of knowledge transfer. Technology platforms today make it much easier to introduce effective mentorship into the workforce. Accessibility means that the relationship can be established on terms that work for those involved, whether that’s on a remote basis or face-to-face and larger pools of people can benefit where mentorships are being delivered online.

There are clear benefits to using mentorships in the workplace, not just when it comes to knowledge transfer but also improving inclusion and diversity and retaining more employees too. Key to this is going to be a well-structured programme that ensures all those involved feel the benefits.