This article was last updated March 20, 2023.
When it comes to success, employees often have a skewed perception of what that might look like. Take Steve Jobs for example — unless people dig deeper into the history of Apple, many see him as a self-made multi-billionaire and one of the greatest inventors of our time. Sure, this is all accurate information, but it's not the whole story. Jobs didn’t turn Apple into the modern technology empire it is today all by himself. In fact, he had a handful of mentors throughout his life that helped him forge his (and Apple's) success.
Ask yourself, or your employees, how they got to where they are at this very moment. Odds are they credit a mentor: a colleague, family member, friend, coach or teacher.
What makes a great mentor?
All great mentors have something in common — they do something to stand out. Maybe it was an example they set, an inspirational working style, or there's a connection to their mentee personality or, communication style.
EXERCISE: Encourage your employees to reflect on what made a past or current mentor so great. Here's an example of what Steve Jobs received from his first mentor, Robert Friedland:
"Robert was very much an outgoing, charismatic guy, a real salesman. Jobs got the inspiration for the name 'Apple' after staying on Friedland's apple farm, and a technique that became one of his hallmarks for decades after: 'reality distortion field.' This was a way for Job's to use charisma and force of personality to persuade others to follow his vision, regardless of the facts. Jobs became more sure of himself and a little dictatorial after spending time with Friedland."
The power of mentorship programs and millennial employee retention
According to Forbes.com, millennials will consist of 75 percent of the workforce by 2025 External Site. And, according to a Gallup report on the generation External Site, millennials are stereotyped as "job-hoppers" due to a lack of connection to the company and its mission and the work they’re performing.
With 2025 right around the corner, a mentorship program could be a great start or addition to your workplace culture and employee engagement. Did you know: 79 percent of millennials say mentoring is crucial to their career success External Link.
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Mentorship programs are a win-win for your business and employees
While a comprehensive benefits package such as core medical coverage, vision, dental and retirement are proven to keep employees for the long haul and appeal to prospective talent, a strong mentorship program may be the cherry on top for both your employees and business in an ever-competitive market.
If you aren't convinced, consider this study from the American Society for Training and Development External Site: 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate mentorship program. Plus, 75 percent of executives credit their mentors for helping them reach their current position.
Employees often see mentorship as a forced interaction or transactional in nature. This only happens when employees approach mentorship as a one-way street. When not forced, mentorship programs are sprinkled with well-being benefits for both the mentee and mentor.
The surprising health benefits for mentors and mentees
- For mentors, it's a way to give back, work with varying personality styles, and get the satisfaction of imparting wisdom or advice.
- For mentees, it provides a support system during critical states of development.
- Mentors can enhance their skills in coaching, leadership and interpersonal skills.
- Mentorship provides mentees with insight, perspective, support and direction when navigating their career path.
- Both mentors and mentees are much more likely to receive a promotion.
- Both mentors and mentees will create a career network.
- Both mentors and mentees will experience exposure to diversity of cultures and experiences.
4 tips to creating a successful mentorship program
When you integrate these four tips into your workplace, you will be on track for a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace. So, what are you waiting for...here's how you can get started today!
Match maker, match maker, make me a match.Contrary to popular belief, mentorship programs aren’t only for the new person in the office. In order to find good mentorship matches External Site, you need some data on your employees. Start with a questionnaire to fill out career objectives, communication preferences, or what they’re looking for in a mentor/mentee.
Buy-in from staff.In order for a strong mentorship program, you need to have buy-in from both management and staff. It’s also important to stress the mentorship program is voluntary, while emphasizing the importance of mentoring on career success.
Hand out roles and responsibilitiesDefine key roles, including who sets up meeting times, meeting frequency, location and conversation topic suggestions.
Get with goals.Encourage your employees to set goals at the beginning of the program and to check in and reflect after each mentor/mentee session.
Employees are never too old, or too successful, for a mentor
We are never done learning or developing, regardless of stage of life or career. Whether an employee is starting out early in their career, tenured, or on track to be the next Steve Jobs, anyone can benefit from a mentor.
Did you know?
Mentors are promoted six times more often than those who aren’t. And, mentees are promoted five times more than those without that powerful relationship.
Source: Five-year study of 1,000 employees by Gartner and Capital Analytics.
Take action for a healthier workplace and healthier employees
Wellmark commits to creating an environment within your workplace that promotes healthy behaviors.
Our employer consulting and well-being services can provide your workplace with the tools and resources to reach a desired culture that:
- Aligns health and well-being to your organization’s overall mission and vision.
- Expands on the definition of traditional physical wellness to include the six elements of well-being; physical, career, social, financial, community, emotional.
- Emphasizes engagement over participation.
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- Robert Half: Mentoring Relationships Strengthen your Company
- Small Business Chron: Advantages of Mentoring in the Workplace.
- Forbes: Get serious about mentoring.
- ASHA.org: Benefits of mentoring.
- Forbes: Improve workplace culture with mentoring
- Michigan Blues Perspectives: Mentoring benefits companies and employees.