In this week’s Ask A Recruiter, we look at internal mentorship programs as a low cost, yet highly beneficial way to improve retention and productivity.

A manager wrote to us with this turnover dilemma:

“I manage a fairly sizeable team and we’re having a real retention issue with our entry-level employees. We have a very rigorous training program, but struggle to keep new hires beyond the 6 month mark. For those that make it past 12 months, we generally have high retention and they enjoy a successful career with us. But I’m really struggling to keep them engaged and motivated up to those 12 months. We’re losing some really good talent and it’s costing us a lot in hiring and training costs. Our training program is pretty aggressive for the first 5 weeks, but fairly inconsistent after that. I’m hesitant to overload them with training but they just don’t seem to be “getting it” after those 5 weeks. The technical aspect is fairly straightforward but the implementation just isn’t sticking. What should I do? In one exit interview, the person leaving said they would have liked some mentorship from our more senior staff. I’ve always considered mentorship more of an external professional development exercise. How would it work internally?”

We asked TempsAhead Manager, Ioana Bucsa, to explain why mentorship might be what’s missing in this equation: 

When it comes to employee retention and satisfaction, companies are willing to offer more and more, and get more creative every day. A very traditional and efficient way to motivate your employees and improve workforce productivity is by encouraging mentorship in the workplace. Corporate mentoring is on the rise and in fact, 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees.

High potentials are an incredibly valuable asset to any company, but they’re often difficult to retain. With careful cultivation, companies can increase retention to ensure they’ll be able to appoint suitable leaders at the top when needed.

How Mentees Benefit

By connecting high potentials with leaders, top performers, and peers across the company, learning spreads throughout the organization. As employees turn to their mentors for advice, they make fewer mistakes on the job, at the same time increasing engagement and loyalty. By leveraging internal resources, costs are kept to a minimum as you reduce turnover. A company can even use its mentoring program to attract new employees.

How Mentors Benefit

Mentors gain from the mentoring relationship, too. The opportunity to teach or advise others can increase the mentor’s confidence and own job satisfaction. The mentor is required to listen to the concerns of the employee and may develop a better understanding of employee issues and stronger communication skills. If the mentor is a supervisor, mentoring can improve his or her supervisory skills.

Types of Mentorship Relationships

When it comes to establishing a mentorship program there are a few different options that a company can implement, depending on the size of the team:

  • One-on-one mentorship – The mentor and mentee pairing follow a certain schedule, anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to a year. Mentorship should cover predetermined areas and have periodic follow up sessions.
  • Group mentorship – A mentor is assigned to a group of up to 5 individuals that have common interests and goals within a team or a department and share opinions and challenges in a group setting.
  • Peer to peer mentorship – It could be similar to the model of “Accountability Partners” – they each have a list of goals and how they will achieve those in a certain period of time and there is a weekly meeting to discuss successes and challenges and how they can support each other going forward.

Remember mentorship doesn’t necessarily have to be from the same professional stream. Cross departmental mentorship can result in broader learning opportunities.

Mentoring creates an environment of trust, belonging, support, and encouragement for a diverse workforce. It not only helps organizations develop and retain talent, but it also builds a robust community of talent for the future. The effect of a successful mentoring program can help corporations differentiate themselves from their competitors and gain new clients while providing long-term support for their employees.