The benefits of mentoring to boost performance
Mentoring is not just a ‘nice thing to do’ or a company perk: a wealth of evidence suggests that these programmes really do have a positive impact on organisational outcomes. The reality is that powerful mentoring schemes can help people to develop personally and professionally, strengthening teams and, in turn, business success and profitability.
Research indicates that 77% of companies that have a mentoring programme indicate that it improved both employee retention and job performance. Meanwhile, the National Mentoring Day Summit has found that 67% of businesses reported an increase in productivity due to mentoring. The same research reveals that 55% of businesses consider mentoring to have a positive impact on their company's profits.
For HR professionals, developing your own mentoring programme – or joining an existing scheme - will help drive performance by helping your people to develop in their career. It will also enhance your employer brand sending a powerful message that you are committed to investing in your people and help you increase employee engagement, development, and retention.
Mentoring also has the added benefit of helping to boost diversity and the inclusion of underrepresented groups at senior level. Research from Cornell University has found that mentoring programs boosted minority representation at management level by 9% to 24% (compared to 2% to 18% with other diversity initiatives). The same study found that mentoring programs also dramatically improved promotion and retention rates for minorities and women—15% to 38% as compared to non-mentored employees.
In the UK, the FTSE 100 Cross-Company Mentoring programme, which was established by Peninah Thompson in 2003, has achieved remarkable results. The scheme asked FTSE 100 chairmen to mentor a senior woman from another company, and in return to nominate the most senior woman they could find in their own company to receive mentorship. Of the approximately 250 mentees since 2003, 48 have joined FTSE 100 boards or executive committees as executive directors or members, and 69 have become non-executive directors of FTSE 100 companies.
A landmark study, which assessed the success of a mentoring programme at Sun Microsystems found that employees who participated were five times more likely to advance in pay grade - and mentors made even more progress. What’s more, retention rates were significantly higher for mentees (72%) and for mentors (69%) than for employees who did not participate (49%).
Here at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) we recently launched a six-month sector-wide mentoring programme: EmpowerMe. This is not a training course – this is a one-to-one career enhancing personal development programme which will help drive performance and increase the confidence of people at every level. Mentees gain access to inspirational mentors all of whom are industry professionals from within the recruitment sector and who have a wide range of skills and knowledge drawn from their own recruitment careers.
A two-way street
While the advantages of mentoring for more junior team members are evident, we cannot forget that such programmes also bring reciprocal benefits. Becoming a mentor affords the individual the opportunity to develop their communication and personal skills while at the same time achieving a sense of real fulfilment. It can be a great addition to leadership skills development and can help you develop your managers and aspiring leaders into mentors in their own right. A role as a mentor will cover at least some of the following:
• Listening and asking the right questions
• Providing personal insights of your experience of the sector and your career
• Offering a different point of view
• Offering development advice & guidance as well as support & encouragement
• Helping the mentee identify areas for growth and development
• Giving positive reinforcement and constructive feedback
Hattie Duffield, from Huxley Engineering, was one of the first mentees to join APSCo’s EnpowerMe programme. As she explains, “Recruitment is a career that has its own complexities. The process is straight forward however, human beings are not! I feel mentoring gives you another perspective - you are put in a safe space where you feel empowered and I feel it has even more of a positive impact to have a mentor outside your own organisation”.
Another of our mentors, Lysha Holmes, explains how the scheme benefits everyone involved, “The mentor benefits from a programme like this as well. It makes you realise how much you have to give – no matter what background you’re from or what size business you run. I’m proud and honoured to be involved in EmpowerMe and I’d encourage anyone with a length of experience in recruitment to consider mentoring – it takes just an hour a month of your time, but the outputs are immense”. On why senior practitioners should consider putting themselves forward as a mentor, she says, “to see a young person grow personally and professionally is a huge reward that everyone should have the chance to experience. Having it run by a trade association that operates under an ethos of driving best practice in the recruitment sector and has no financial interest in the programme means that you know there’s real credibility behind it. The staffing sector is largely ungoverned and it needs schemes like EmpowerMe to properly equip the people working in the profession with the right skills to not only deliver the high-quality service that is expected, but also develop a rewarding career path.”
While the concept of mentoring is by no means new, it is certainly a growing trend. Gone are the days when workers had to search on their own or within their professional networks for a mentor – today, companies are increasingly realising the benefits of these schemes and offering formal mentoring and coaching in response. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Fortune 500 companies now have mentoring programmes. Elsewhere, a Deloitte survey found that 61% of millennials have a mentor - and millennials planning on staying with their employer for more than five years are 68% more likely to have a mentor than the 32% who are not. It is clear, then, that for HR leaders looking to boost productivity, performance, and talent pipelines in this candidate short market, the benefits of mentoring programmes are hard to ignore.