Employee engagement can make the difference between a company that merely gets by, and one that thrives. Employees who work exclusively for their paycheck are not going to give the same value to a business as truly engaged individuals, intent on company success and personal development.
But full engagement only happens when workplace relationships are productive. The most beneficial relationships are when knowledge is shared to the advantage of the whole organization—and you can achieve this through effective mentoring
Let’s look at how mentoring in the workplace increases employee engagement and employee development.
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants"
—Sir Isaac Newton
We all need guidance, and some truly impressive results can be accomplished when we have others to set us on our way. This is what mentoring is. It’s taking the raw materials of an individual and inspiring their development into something wonderful.
But it’s more than just instruction. Most of us are not machines, so we need something more nuanced and warm than the average line of MLOps software.
Mentoring can take the shape of a senior employee showing a junior how to do certain tasks, such as using an online timer to effectively organize their time at work. The mentoring experience can also be more emotionally-centered, helping improve employee confidence and developing leadership.
Done right, mentoring can benefit both mentee and mentor. This is why it’s such a key part of HR. The frank exchange of perspectives can be very useful.
For example, learning how a new employee feels about certain aspects of the job might assist the mentor in how they welcome new recruits. Information gleaned during mentoring can also be fed into the company knowledge bank.
Proficient mentoring is all about working with individuals to bring out their unique talents in a way that will be of mutual benefit. It is not a production line churning out cloned employee types.
"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves"
What the Jaws genius is saying is that each individual has their own set of skills. Yes, we can learn to deploy these skills and contribute to company convention, but we should never lose sight of our uniqueness.
It’s by developing individual skills that the team members’ skill sets expand, and the employee gains fulfillment. Which leads us to employee engagement and employee retention.
71% of employers believe that employee engagement is critical to their company’s success. It’s clearly a vital piece of the workplace jigsaw. This graph helps us understand why:
Another important aspect is that low engagement can result in increased employee churn, which is costly to the business.
It’s reported that, for a salaried employee, the hiring process will come to the equivalent of 6 to 9 months’ pay. For hourly employees, a replacement cost of $1500 is not uncommon.
When disengagement results in increased churn, the remaining employees feel a drop in morale—leading to further disengagement.
So, what exactly is employee engagement? It’s not just employee satisfaction, which is all about how happy they are in their job. Employee engagement goes further. It relates to how passionately involved the employee is in their work and how they align themselves with the goals and workplace culture of the company.
The bad news is that only 36% of employees feel engaged. This is something businesses really need to address, since engaged employees have a better understanding of how they fit into the company and an appreciation of how their decisions affect others.
Engagement is clearly something worth aspiring to. Let’s see how strong mentor relationships can encourage it.
Organizations thrive on communication. In the same way that a company using a VoIP cell phone system will see vast improvements in communication, strong mentoring programs can deliver real gains in this sphere.
When an employee is given the opportunity to talk about an issue, they are being given a voice. They feel that they are being listened to, which is especially rewarding if they know that their input may be taken on board right at the very top of the company.
It’s worth pointing out that the mentoring process should never be simply about the mentor imparting information. To return to the VoIP example, let’s say that some technical parts of a new system need explaining. In this case, questions such as what is a non fixed VoIP number should be part of a training program, not strictly speaking part of mentoring.
Mentoring should be more of a two-way process, taking into account the views and experiences of the mentee. In this way their individual talents can be identified and nurtured.
As a result, the employee gains confidence. Additionally, the employee views the organization with more positivity, due to the fact that it’s the sort of responsive company that’s happy to listen to people at all levels. Both factors are key in increasing employee engagement.
This is what most people tend to think of as the classic type of mentoring. It provides a route by which employees can gain instruction in given tasks.
One of the difficulties in some organizations is that they do the onboarding stage really well, at which point no further development is offered. As soon as the employee is judged competent to perform their role, that’s where the instruction stops.
Let’s say an employee is engaged in contract management. All of a sudden, the business expands dramatically and takes on a whole new raft of complex contracts.
While it may be possible to acquire the necessary contract management software free of charge, the employee using it will need guidance on how to deal with this new level of task. Mentoring can help by putting the employee together with somebody with experience in this specific area.
Any role should have a degree of fluidity to it, otherwise inertia and boredom can creep in. And the tasks attached to it will change in nature and complexity.
Even the employees who are good at managing change might be able to handle it better, were they to be offered some tips and techniques.
Here, you could pair the employee with a colleague with expertise in professional change. To acquire the ability to deal with change itself is an invaluable opportunity, benefitting the employee not just in this role but in a diversity of roles to come.
Another of the interesting facets in mentoring is when employees are given access to a layer or sector of the business that they would have little or no contact with otherwise. Hierarchies abound in many workplaces, and this, combined with the diversity of a lot of large corporations, makes for some very fuzzy ideas of other parts of the business.
The benefits of mentoring include breaking through organizational layers—if the business has the flexibility, and liberality of thought, to allow people from different and disparate points in the business to come together in this way.
Consequently, for instance, those engaged in maintenance might find themselves benefitting from interaction with people who are working with online store platforms.
When knowledge about other parts of the business is gained in this way, it benefits all concerned.
Those from the upper echelons get a good insight into the feelings of those further down the ladder, who in turn get a better idea of the nature of the business further up. You could use reverse mentoring here, with junior staff members instructing experienced employees.
It’s a common misconception that employees will only happily perform extra tasks if they are paid more. However, a far better way to motivate your staff is to teach them skills that result in them being able to control more of their working day.
When employees acquire skills that make them more self-confident and more self-reliant, they tend to be happier to put them into action, even if pay does not improve. As long as the employee is made to feel valued through feedback and recognition, they’re likely to enjoy using their new skills.
As the table makes clear, paying more is likely to lead to employee satisfaction. But employee engagement is more about giving the employee the knowledge that their growing skills and abilities are of key importance to the organization and other employees.
If certain structures are in place which make it tricky to enhance an employee’s responsibilities viz a viz colleagues, then an alternative might be to give the employee more responsibility for their own schedule, as their competence improves. Technological developments, such as phone over internet, might make this more possible.
Many employees languish in a sea of routine, dreaming of what they could be capable of if only they were granted the opening. Such limitations can be a real engagement killer, and the business will either be left with a despondent employee, or an empty desk needing filling.
A successful mentorship program allows an employee to show what they can do. The employee has the chance to stretch themselves, and the mentor has the opportunity to see what they’re capable of. This could be handy information when it comes to filling a senior vacancy, and could help in building the relationship between mentor and mentee.
For example, an employee who sends out invoices for a video-making firm might have a hidden passion for music and may know all there is to know about the best royalty free music apps. Showing off what they can do in this regard might be of tremendous help to the video-maker mentoring them.
Effective mentorship can be of huge benefit to all concerned. The mentee gets to express themselves and learns ways to tackle their job that will boost their engagement and career development.
The mentor gains a little variety in their day and hears from a perspective that might be of use to them, which may help with their engagement too. And with the right mentoring software, like Workmates, things could get much easier and more efficient.
Overall, the business benefits because communication is enhanced and unity of purpose is propagated. Not a bad result. Amazing what a little talking can do.
This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is dedicated to providing powerful solutions for your HR teams and creating an exceptional employee experience. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, onboarding, and to save you valuable time!