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The Importance of Mentoring in the Workplace

February 10, 2022
Nicola Cronin

Organisations are always looking for ways to nurture and retain their best people. Fortunately for them, most employees are similarly looking for ways to get fulfilment and satisfaction out of their work, making this a key area for businesses to cultivate. 

This is where workplace mentoring, sometimes known as business mentoring, comes in. In this article, we run through how business mentoring can help you to retain and develop your people by creating a better working culture in which employees can learn and grow.

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What is mentoring in the workplace?

Mentoring in the workplace is an established partnership between colleagues for the purposes of learning and growth. There are several different types of mentoring, the most common is 1:1 or traditional mentorship. 

Having a mentor at work can traditionally be seen as senior and more experienced employees giving advice and support to younger employees earlier on in their careers. 

This dynamic is known as ‘informal mentoring’, as it often comes about from the mentor taking a liking to the mentee and taking them ‘under their wing’, rather than a formalised mentorship.

There is a lot to be said for informal mentoring, and many successful people refer to these kinds of relationships as helping them get to where they are today, such as Yves Saint Laurent and his formative mentoring from Christian Dior.

However, the issue with informal mentoring is that it’s often exclusive and elitist, with people choosing to mentor individuals they see themselves in (not doing anything for diversity in the process).

These kinds of relationships also rely on sheer luck a lot of the time. How many successful entrepreneurs have you heard say they were "in the right place at the right time" when they met a crucial person that took a chance on them?

As a result of these biases, mentoring in the workplace needs to be established as ‘formal mentoring’ in order to give employees equal opportunities to develop.

When should I establish a formal mentoring program?  

There will likely be informal mentoring happening in your organisation already. The key question is, when do you formalise your program? 

A formal program is when an organisation intentionally sets up a mentoring program in which they actively match mentors and mentees and support the relationships to develop long-term. 

Mentoring programs can be run using spreadsheets and manual matching or through mentoring software, such as Guider. Mentoring software removes the headache, using AI to make mentor matches and providing integrated tools to manage the relationship effectively. 

It’s helpful to consider the following questions when deciding when to set up a formal mentoring program:

  • How many people are currently accessing some type of mentoring in your organisation? 
  • What is the potential reach of a formal mentoring program?
  • How does mentoring align with your learning and development goals? 

By establishing a formal mentoring program you are opening up mentoring across your organisation and removing bias from the process. You are also actively encouraging the growth and development of all of your employees.

Benefits of business mentoring

The benefits of mentoring in your business are wide-ranging. From leadership mentoring to supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives, there are many ways that mentoring can support your business. 

Mentoring in the workplace will also impact your people’s personal development, can positively support mental health and improve employee retention.

Here are the key points to get started:

Benefits to the mentee

Finding a mentor at work can help you build a host of essential skills. Those with mentors at work will benefit from an increase in:

  • Self-confidence
  • Self-awareness
  • Job satisfaction
  • Aspiration
  • Likelihood of promotion
  • Loyalty to their company
  • Fulfilment at work

89% of those who have been mentored will also go on to mentor others, and so contribute to this cycle of learning and development within an organisation. 

Benefits to the mentor

There are also many positive benefits for those doing the mentoring. Studies have shown an increase in:

  • Self-confidence
  • Communication skills
  • Job satisfaction
  • Loyalty to their company
  • Fulfilment at work

Harvard Business Review conducted a study researching the positive effects mentoring can have on the mentors themselves and found that people who served as mentors experienced lower levels of anxiety and described their job as more meaningful than those who did not mentor. Leadership mentoring is also a key way to develop your leadership skills.

Benefits to your organisation

The positive outcomes of mentoring stretch far beyond personal development for the people involved in the mentorships. Mentoring in the workplace has huge benefits for the organisations themselves, increasing:

  • Employee engagement
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Employee loyalty

👆 All of these contribute to employee retention!

It can also improve:

  • Diversity in leadership
  • Knowledge sharing
  • On-boarding ease
  • Strong company culture

Not to mention reducing learning costs as you are sourcing experts from within your organisation to foster the development of others. 

Another benefit for organisations offering mentoring in the workplace is recruitment opportunities. Studies have shown that 79% of millennials see mentoring as crucial to their career success. Given that by 2025, this demographic will comprise more than 75% of the workforce, it ought to be a top priority for businesses of all sizes. 

📖 You can read more on the Benefits of Mentoring here 📖

Mentoring in the workplace key statistics

Above we mention some key statistics for implementing a mentoring program in your business. Yet, this is only a fraction of the data out there that shows the efficacy of mentoring in the workplace.

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  • 84% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs.
  • 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if they were offered opportunities to learn and grow.
  • 67% of businesses reported an increase in productivity due to mentoring.
  • 55% of businesses felt that mentoring had a positive impact on their profits.
  • Mentoring programs boosted minority representation at the management level from 9% to 24%.
  • Top reasons for millennials wanting to quit their jobs are 'Not enough opportunities to advance' at 35% and 'Lack of learning and development opportunities' at 28%.
  • 71% of people with a mentor say their company provides them with good opportunities to advance in their career, compared with 47% of those without a mentor.
  • More than 4 in 10 workers who don’t have a mentor say they’ve considered quitting their job in the past three months.
  • 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationships and have developed greater confidence.

As shown in the numerous studies on the positive effects of mentoring in the workplace, it's one of the simplest things organisations can do to keep their employees engaged, productive and motivated. This is true across the different types of mentoring too.

📖 We've written a more detailed guide to Mentoring Statistics if you want to explore even more research! 📖

How to implement business mentoring

Implementing mentoring in the workplace is not only about what your business can gain, but, as we’ve shown, the opportunity cost of not investing in mentoring can be huge.

Now we’ve established how important mentoring in the workplace is, you’re probably itching to find out how you can implement an effective mentoring program within your organisation.

Luckily we've put a full step-by-step guide together 👇

📖 Read: How To Start A Mentoring Program 📖 

So, there we have it—everything you need to know about the importance of mentoring in your workplace. As you can see, mentoring is not just a nice to have but an essential part of your learning and development toolkit. 

By implementing a formal mentoring program you can benefit from a whole host of lasting changes. The question isn’t “why is mentoring important”, but rather “why don’t we already do it!”

Want to learn more about how Guider's mentoring platform can help your business thrive? Click 'book a demo' and arrange a call with our team today 👇

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