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Why Your Company Needs To Have A Mentor Culture As A Part Of Their Training And Learning Budget

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

Man mentoring young woman

Adopting a mentor culture in your company benefits more than just the mentee. It ripples through the whole company. It increases employee engagement, retention, and upskills as well as develops leadership and team communication. How you might ask? There is science and data behind the value that makes a solid case for increased ROI in sales as well as employee and customer experience.

In a recent customer experience conversation with one of our Intern Pursuit (IP) employers, I was chatting about what he learned so far from working internship discovered the value of working with an intern is it not only sharpened his own leadership skills, it also opened his mind to questioning processes that were bogged down in "That is the way we always have done it." The observation I shared with him, working with an intern caused him to slow down and look at his process with a different lens so to speak. From there, he realized more innovation actually happens. There is a strong case behind peer and reverse mentoring culture and how it yields exponential returns for a business. So let's explore how that breaks down in meaningful ways for your company.

I read an article entitled, The 5 benefits mentors bring to L&D programs because it ties into my own research of peer and reverse mentoring and want to share the findings and tips with our audience. Current research trends highlight the advantages of peer and reverse mentoring. Let's start with the definitions so we are on the same page.

"A 2019 survey of American workers by SurveyMonkey found that 91% of individuals who have a mentor are satisfied with their job."

Peer Mentoring - According to the Art of Mentoring, peer mentoring is a relationship between people who are at the same career stage or age, in which one person has more experience than the other in a particular domain and can provide support as well as knowledge and skills transfer.

Reverse Mentoring - Mindset Tools defines it as a junior team member enters into a "professional friendship" with someone more senior, and they exchange skills, knowledge and understanding.

The value of reverse mentoring is highly beneficial as it builds and strengthens multi-generational workers communication and collaboration skills. It comes from how adults learn and it may surprise you to hear it is centered around story telling. Old as time and proven. So let's look at some statistics about this mentoring style.

Reverse mentoring plays an important role in bridging the gap between the generations currently in the workforce: baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (born between 1965 and 1976), and Generation Y , also called millennials (born between 1977 and 1998). These groups have experienced vastly different social and cultural situations, which has resulted in varied work ethics, mindsets and attitudes.

Pershing is a financial services company that recently implemented a reverse mentoring program. Following implementation of the company-wide initiative, Pershing experienced a 96% retention rate for the 77 millennials who were involved.

This has led to a number of prejudices and stereotypes forming that can be difficult to overcome. For instance, some people view millennials as spoiled, unmotivated and self-centered, while some millennials view older generations as inefficient and resistant to change. Executives and other leaders need to learn how to cross the generational divide and communicate with, motivate and engage younger team members. Reverse mentoring helps to challenge these stereotypes, and benefits your team members and the organization as a whole.

1. Mentors strengthen your company’s culture

First, take time to evaluate what your company stands for. What are the values? They have to be embedded into how your organization acts and makes decisions. Mentoring relationships are a great way to help your employees feel the impact of your company’s values. Here at Intern Pursuit, our culture is build around continuous on demand learning around 6 core 21st Century Skills: Critical thinking, Time management, Problem-solving, Communication, Creativity, and Research skills. These skills are vital to keeping an open and innovative mindset. That is built into the platform and our IP Academy.

Now let's look at the science behind mentoring. In Linda Phillip-Jones study of hundreds of mentor-mentee partnerships as well as individuals unable to identify any mentors in their lives, "Upskilling is made easier with mentorship because the latter complements all the learning and skills being gained by the mentee.[1]."

For example, let’s say one of your company values is “Collaboration: Working together for the good of the group.” People who participate in mentoring get the chance to collaborate with people they might not usually work with. This 1:1 relationship allows employees to live the value of collaboration every time they meet with their mentor or mentee.

We admit collaboration is a prime example, but we promise, you can input any value here and the example still works. Why? Because mentoring is about growth, and what company doesn’t value that?

2. Mentors boost employee engagement

Employee engagement, how motivated people are to put in extra effort and stay with an organization, is crucial to business success. One of the most consistent drivers of employee engagement is whether or not employees have learning and development opportunities.

Mentorship is one of the most personalized development opportunities you can provide to employees. Whether internal or external, mentors can help mentees feel more confident about their performance by supporting their developmental goals. When employees are confident in their skills, they’re more likely to put in extra effort.

Studies have shown that the benefit for mentors is just as apparent as the benefits for mentees. A study in the Journal of Vocational Behavior showed that mentors (versus non-mentors) were more satisfied with their jobs and committed to the organization.

3. Mentors help cultivate your company’s next generation of leaders

To be successful, you must invest in development, especially when it comes to cultivating company leaders. Mentoring can aid in succession planning and leadership development by cultivating a path for high potential employees.

Depending on the position and industry, many workplaces require 2 or 3 years of experience for entry level jobs, because formal training does not provide enough preparation to be productive in the modern workplace. This applies more in programming, game development, finance, and consulting fields. To keep talent in place it is vital to offer incentives that are not always driven by salary alone. Mentoring is one sure fire way to engage both the employee and the new intern at your business.

Promoting employees from within has plenty of benefits: lower training costs, improved employee retention, and better morale. Leadership development and internal promotion also sends a good message to employees; they know that their efforts will be recognized and rewarded.

4. Mentors provide personalized learning strategies

Highly structured, one-size-fits-all learning programs don’t work for everyone. Mentoring works because it can be personalized and customized for what an individual needs. This should be done with intent and thought behind mentoring. Bringing like minded individuals together does not mean that the outcome will be productive. For example, financial analysis is not my strength, I would prefer to work with a person that is strong in that area. Another consideration might be how I process information which ties to my personality type. Customizing the mentor - mentee relationship has science behind it.

Mentoring allows employees to engage in learning and development at a time that works during their schedule; this is especially valuable during times when the workload is heavy. It makes learning readily accessible and minimizes stress by giving employees the freedom to set up regular meetings whenever they choose.

As flexible, remote working arrangements become the norm, providing flexibility in your learning and development program becomes even more important.

5. Mentors protect your bottom line by retaining employees

In addition to cultivating benefits within your organization, mentoring has cost-effective advantages, too, especially when HR budgets and resources are constrained.

In a separate study done in Kenya [Jones, 3], where experienced entrepreneurs mentored female microenterprise owners, it was found that mentorship increased profits by 20 percent with initially large effects that fade as matches dissolved.

One of the main benefits of mentoring programs is that mentors help their mentees feel supported. This can play a major role in reducing employee turnover — you won’t have to invest as much in costs to hire, on-board and train new employees. Expenses related to turnover are significant. Research from the Society for Human Resource Management suggests that direct replacement costs can reach as high as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary.

Everyone from Bill Gates to Oprah seems to lay some claim to a mentor who helped them in their journey to the top. Yusudi understands this and that is why it has mentorship at the core of its programs, particularly in Jijali.

According to two separate studies[4][5], one on sale representatives and another one on army officers in the US, having an in-house mentoring program increased organizational commitment, reduced intentions of leaving and decreased overall turnover. This can be translated into learning programs in the form of learner retention. In programs where mentorship is included, learners are less likely to quit. Such outcomes are useful for any upskilling program looking to make an impact.

As such, CEO's should recognize there is a return on training and learning. Many times employers only see dollars signs going out the door when it comes to skill and upskill development. The value of dedicated intern program built around a mentor culture improves your company's ROI and should be treated as a profit center rather than a cost center. Happy employees are your best referral for new customers and press opportunities.

After Procter & Gamble’s reverse mentoring program paired senior leaders with employees with disabilities, it discovered its internal videos were inaccessible to those with hearing challenges and, accordingly, added captions to all.

As a side note, if you would like to learn more about the value of developing a genuine intern program with measurable skill and upskill outcomes. Contact us for more information or browse through our blog to read #WhatILearned stories or employer case studies. We believe we can make every intern experience positive for the employer and intern and show the value of having a multi-generational on-demand and continuous learning culture through our IP Academy for your company.


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