Learning & Development

What a Difference a Mentor Makes

It’s National Mentoring month and HR Daily Advisor is celebrating by encouraging HR professionals to become mentors to someone in their organization and/or network.

National Mentoring Month was created in 2002 by Mentoring.org, a mentoring advocacy organization created more than 30 years ago, and the Harvard T.H. School of Public Health to “amplify, encourage, and strengthen mentorship for young people.”

As many companies work through a challenging period with layoffs, restructurings, and upskilling current employees, having a mentoring program is more important than ever. This month provides an opportunity for both organizations and individuals to not only commit to championing the next generation, but also encourages HR professionals to explore how mentoring programs can help cultivate more engaged and healthy workforces.

We recently connected with Sara Rahmani, Vice President of People Experience & DEI at Chronus, a HR mentoring software company that works with some of the world’s largest companies, to discuss how mentoring programs can enable organizations to create more productive, engaged, and satisfied people. As Vice President of People Experience & DEI, Sara is a dynamic culture builder responsible for all things people, focusing on employee development, culture, engagement programs, and belonging, diversity and inclusion.

Here’s what she had to say.

How is mentoring important for employee burnout and wellbeing during this difficult time?

The last two years have been taxing and stressful across the global workforce. We’ve seen the employer/employee relationship face several unprecedented challenges with the shift to hybrid and remote work, and the recent volatility of the market. 

Employees are stressed and burnt out, and productivity, engagement, and overall excitement about the workplace has suffered. Meanwhile, silos have developed between employees and the companies they work for. The only way forward is if companies can build an employee experience and culture that instills opportunities for growth, development, and connection to doing meaningful work.

According to Gallup, 76 percent of employees experience burnout in the workplace at least some of the time, which is an alarmingly high number. Preventing employee burnout starts with building a supportive company culture that prioritizes wellbeing. In practice, that might look like incorporating wellbeing goals into an employee’s development plan, or making mental health-related resources, benefits and tools available for employees. Another key aspect of wellbeing comes through human connection and interaction via mentoring, which further drives employee trust. 

Specifically, mentoring can help mitigate burnout in the following ways:

  1. Builds relationships and supportive friendships
  2. Provides a support network and sounding board
  3. Reduces employee isolation 

How can managers address broken trust in the workplace through mentoring?

Between the emergence of the disruptive hybrid workplace and the subsequent eras of the Great Resignation, ‘quiet quitting,’ ‘quiet constraint,” and recent mass layoffs, it’s safe to say employers and employees have a trust problem. The constant scale tipping for power and autonomy on both the employer and employee sides has left the other feeling let down and disengaged. Mentoring can help drive human connection across departments, seniority, and demographics in an effort to create a less siloed, more inclusive, trusting organization. Further, a mentoring strategy can help push development and upskilling initiatives forward, while illustrating an organization’s care and investment in their greatest asset—their people. 

Why is mentoring needed to boost productivity when employee morale is low?

The first half of 2022 saw the worst dip in productivity since 1947, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Without improvements in productivity, companies are looking at fewer goods and services to take to market, greatly impacting their bottom lines. Mentoring facilitates employee connectivity in the workplace by helping to develop skills and boost networks internally. By having a mentor, an employee can also have someone they routinely check-in with to hold themselves accountable and keep a check on their wellbeing – offering ways to handle workplace stress or project management. This positive reinforcement, backed by accountability, can be great way organizations boost productivity when morale is low and employees are disengaged. 

How can a company use technology to implement a mentoring program?

Formal mentoring programs can help your organization keep its best workers by improving job satisfaction, skill development and advancement opportunities for all employee demographics. When building an impactful mentoring program to increase retention, intentionality is vital. That’s why utilizing mentoring software is critical to effectively work on program initiatives. 

The time and effort it takes to manage a manual mentoring program is enough to make anyone want to call it quits. With mentoring software, companies can automate their mentoring programs, and more easily match participants to track progress and impact over time. Utilizing a mentoring platform can provide on-the-go connection for employees, while helping them to focus on self-driven development and knowledge transfer. Improving employee retention with mentoring can showcase impact to stakeholders, all while keeping employees and their needs front and center. 

What are mentoring benchmarks, and how can they be used in 2023?

Establishing a successful mentoring program isn’t as simple as snapping your fingers and voila! It takes time, intention and focus to build a successful program. This is even more important when it comes to monitoring and measuring the performance of your program. Without measuring, how will you know if your mentoring program is making an impact on the organization’s most critical goals? How to effectively measure mentoring is something Chronus works with customers on regularly. In fact, it was during these discussions that customers raised a vital question. How will I know if our program’s performance is good, bad, or average? 

Mentoring Benchmarks set a standard against which things may be compared in the areas of enrollment, matching and engagement. Essentially, it lets program administrators and organizations see how their program is performing against other similar programs. Benchmarks can also give admins the ability to illuminate mentoring’s impact and intended solution to some of today’s toughest workplace challenges—burnout, productivity loss, turnover, employee connectivity and DEI. 

From here, organizations can determine what actions are necessary to improve their performance in the indicated key area, enabling a quicker pathway to mentoring success and organizational impact. 

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