Demographic changes, the growing knowledge economy, and technology trends mean more information is changing hands in the workplace than ever. Meanwhile, many employers worry that the next generation of talent isn’t prepared to assume the leadership mantle. And while are rightly becoming more sophisticated to cope with these challenges, one old-fashioned leadership development staple is still as effective as ever: mentorship.
Mentorship continues to play a major role because it pays dividends in engagement and retention, and also effectively prepares future leaders. Building mentor-mentee relationships makes employees feel invested in the business and more motivated. In fact, in a recent survey of young professionals in the workplace, PeopleFluent found that a whopping 78% of respondents that had access to mentorship felt that these programs made them more engaged at work.
Mentorship Advances Inclusion
Forward-looking organizations also turn to mentorship programs because they can serve a critical role in diversity-focused leadership development. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In advice – get a mentor! – can give talented employees exposure and advocacy that they might not receive through traditional networking channels. Particularly when these connections are encouraged and facilitated within the workplace.
These inclusive mentorship programs are even more powerful when they go global. Through technology, relationships can be formed between individuals with similar experiences or professional interests from anywhere, and tied to development activities. You can read more about using mentorship to encourage inclusive development in our eBook, [4 Steps to Developing Millennial Leaders with Diversity in Mind.]
The Importance of Awareness
If you’re hoping to create a leadership development program that works, you can’t neglect mentorship. Most organizations offer some level of mentor activity; according to Brandon Hall, 32% offer mentorship to all employees, while another third offer targeted programs to high potential individuals, management, or select talent. One surprising fact, however, is that according to the PeopleFluent survey noted above only 40% of young professionals knew about mentorship programs within their organizations. So while you’re building out your programs, consider how they’re marketed as well.
When mentorship is available, it resonates. Aly, 34, a participant in PeopleFluent’s young professional research sums up the value he’s seen from mentorship personally: “I need… someone who's going to say, ‘I can see this potential in you, and this is how you can work on these sorts of things, because this is where you want to get to.’” Another participant, Erin, 26, agrees, “I think just having someone who understands and appreciates your best interests, and wants to help you grow those interests into a viable career path is really important.”
Stay tuned for more insights from our original research on the Digital Generation, coming soon!