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Is Mentorship Your New Secret Weapon in Boosting Employee Retention?

It’s no secret that employee retention is one of the enduring challenges of talent management. But now, amid the Great Resignation, it’s critical to take a fresh approach to retention. You need to stem the tide of employee resignations and work harder to keep your people. As one of your organization’s most powerful retention tools, your mentorship program offers a powerful way to encourage your employees to stay.

Research has already found that mentorship offers value. An Association for Talent Development (ATD) study found that organizations with mentorship programs experience 50 percent higher employee engagement and retention than organizations without mentorship programs. During these challenging times, mentorship is even more valuable in keeping your employees connected to your organization and each other.

Here are some key ways mentorship supports employee retention: 

Mentorship Combats Loneliness

According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, lonely employees quit more often, perform more poorly, and feel less satisfied with their jobs. However, when they have support from a mentor, they may be less lonely, and therefore, less likely to quit. 

Having a trusted mentor at work reminds employees that they’re not alone. In a mentor, they have someone who listens and offers practical advice for coping with a range of workplace challenges. Employees can speak frankly with their mentor and learn from shared experiences. They can also gain valuable feedback for navigating remote work, career opportunities, relationships with coworkers, and more.

Mentorship Supplements Manager Coaching and Support

While managers play a valuable role in retaining employees, mentors provide an added layer of support. For example, where managers can help position employees for promotion and continued development, mentors help employees make the leap. They offer tips and feedback to help employees seize growth opportunities that might have otherwise been harder to reach. As one CEO noted in a recent Forbes article, “Mentorship is the trifecta for employee morale… you’re providing a safe space for them to discuss their feelings. You’re connecting your talent to resources that build resiliency and you’re showing an investment in their development.”

Mentorship improves the Effectiveness of Your DEI Initiatives

Mentorship can deepen the impact of your existing DEI initiatives by helping underrepresented groups manage workplace challenges more effectively. Research shows that mentorship not only helps to accelerate employee career growth but is also highly valued by women and minorities. A Heidrick and Struggles study revealed that women and minorities were more likely than other groups to say mentoring was extremely important to their careers.

Besides matching women and people of color with mentors, pairing employees of different generations can also support your DEI efforts. Younger and older employees can learn from each other by sharing their unique perspectives about the workplace. By offering mentorship to all employees, including women, people of color, and employees in other groups, you can provide the support they need to potentially stay with your organization longer.

Employees with Mentors Have Higher Job Satisfaction

When employees are unhappy at work, they naturally begin to look elsewhere for better opportunities. However, mentorship can reverse the desire to leave by boosting employees’ happiness levels in their current company. With a mentor to provide individualized guidance and insights, employees have a better chance of having a more satisfying and rewarding work experience. A CNBC/SurveyMonkey survey found that employees with a mentor were more likely to be satisfied and less likely to be looking for a job than employees without a mentor.

Mentorship is a powerful tool in your employee experience toolkit. It can help you realize gains in employee engagement while retaining employees who may be a flight risk. Whether formal or informal, across functions or within the same function, mentorship can transform the employee experience at every level of your organization. It gives employees regular opportunities to learn from other leaders and develop connections that encourage them to stay.