Employee Engagement Leadership

Employee engagement and the case for mentorship

Every company wants to improve productivity, employee engagement and bottom line results. Learn how you can do so by mentoring your workforce.

MIT Professor, Donald Sadoway, once said: “In a battery, I strive to maximise electrical potential. When mentoring, I strive to maximise human potential.”

What an inspiring concept.

In order to attract and retain the best talent, companies need to craft the right people strategies. Now more than ever, these strategies are needed to be positioned front and centre as companies are faced with diminishing budgets, increased attrition, and a continuous onslaught of disruption by swifter, more agile competitors.

As a result, employee retention is one of the biggest challenges facing companies today and it has, therefore, become critical to invest in your employees.

Mentoring programs are an excellent way to do just that.

With resources such as time and money under immense pressure, companies need to unlock the motivational energies of their workforces to ensure their success.

So just how would you do that?

Simply put, employee engagement is an important aspect of addressing employee retention because engaged employees are, according to research, less likely to seek employment opportunities outside of the company.

There are several ways to use mentoring to increase employee engagement within your workplace. We have listed a few to get you started:


Partnerships between employee and employer:

With workforces changing at astonishing speeds: Multiple generations in the workforce, flat structures, agile competitors and massive economic instability, it’s no surprise that the employee-employer relationship has also changed.

Employees see themselves as collaborators instead of ‘doers of tasks’.

This is especially true in the case of Millennials who desire partnerships and purpose from their employers.  

This is a great way to promote collaboration, innovation and communication within the company. Add mentorship to it and you are able to tap into the full potential of these newly-formed partnerships as it further bolsters productive work environments that drive positive behaviours. This, in turn, increases employee engagement, win-win.


Mentorship: Taking positive strides in changing company culture:

Employees who are part of a mentorship programme can benefit from their mentors as they become a part of their mentor’s broader network within the company.

Instead of working in isolation, employees start to feel like part of the company and more readily and easily find their purpose and place as it relates to achieving the company’s strategic goals.

As they become more immersed in the company’s culture, a natural occurrence is the increase of their employee engagement.


Work-Life Balance: Mentors are key to understanding this:

This must be one of those fluffy activities that no C-suite leader wants to hear as being a workforce challenge.

Work is work and your life after your life is yours right? Not quite. employee engagement

You see as the world of work is changing, so are the needs of your employees. Life is now also work and work is now also life - the two are intertwined and overlap in a completely unprecedented way.

Mentors are strategically poised to understand what employees deem to be a good work-life balance as they are also confidants and often represent, for the employee, the ‘friendlier face’ of the company.

Employees are able to discuss, in a non-threatening way, how they want to balance work and personal time - and mentors are able to offer perspective on how to develop a strategy around this.

Often when work-life balance is reached, employees become more engaged at work as the pressures to balance personal and work life decrease and the time they spend at work is more productive as a result of their levels of engagement.

So far we have covered a few reasons why mentoring is gaining popularity when it comes to employee engagement.

Let’s get back to those generational differences - yip those Millennials are a driving force here.

This workforce values value, purpose and relationships and mentoring provides a trustworthy relationship as they feel valued and ‘partnered’ with. Most Millennials have been raised where ‘helicopter parenting’ was the order of the day - and so they have come to expect that from their employers as well. They have been raised in stimulated, high-touch environments and they require that level of attention from their employers as well.

Meanwhile, Gen X; often regarded as the silent generation and relishes in helping others.

Is there a better way to actively engage both these generations to ensure seamless collaboration and an evolved level of workplace cross-functionality?

Workplaces of the past have been structured in silos - functional areas, service areas, divisions, business units, branches and so forth. However, the workplaces of the future are becoming more virtual, with teams and individual face-to-face interaction decreasing.

So, it could serve companies well to align more experienced Generation X employees as mentors across various silos so as to decrease ineffective communication and knock-down the barriers that oftentimes prevent companies from cultivating a great company culture. Not only does it help employees develop and grow individually, they learn to collaborate as a team more efficiently.

This too leads to an increase in teamwork and a shared sense of purpose that positively impacts employee engagement.

Let’s unpack some great tips to help you get your mentoring programme up and running in no time.


Ensure there’s a mentor-mentee match:

Much the same as matching the right supplier with the right buyer, it is essential that you firstly, select motivated and hard working employees as mentors. Apathetic mentors simply won’t unearth the mentee's potential.

Mentors should not be forced or expected to become mentors because of the role they occupy in the company. Instead, seek out those who wish to become mentors - the ones who really have a drive and passion to see others succeed.

Typical qualities that mentors display are:

  • Strong leadership.
  • Strong management.
  • Philanthropic behaviours - a ‘being in service of someone else’ type of thinking.

Remember the mentor-mentee is a relationship and in every relationship, you want to have chemistry - to be able to get along and be able to have an open and honest dialogue with one another.


Make mentorship a ‘safe haven’ in your company:

Employees who participate in a mentoring programme need to feel secure in it. We spoke about employees being able to have open, transparent dialogue with their mentors but this can only happen if they feel safe.

Getting this right will ensure that you get the best out of your mentorship programme and your employees as they won’t be hesitant to share pertinent information with their mentors.


Set goals and be committed:

Setting goals is important to creating a framework for your mentors, to help steer the course for their mentees.

You can use the SMART method to ensure that the goals you set are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-driven and Time-bound. Remember that your younger workforce generations including the Millennials desire direction and goal-driven tasks.

Mentoring your employees helps keep them loyal and engaged. Ensure your workforce is motivated and committed to your company and watch their quality of work and your overall customer experience surge.

Do you have any mentoring programmes in your company? Share some of your insights with us and let’s work together for a better workplace tomorrow.


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