Mentoring is on the rise as organizations seek to bolster employee learning
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Mentoring is on the rise as organizations seek to bolster employee learning

When you think of employee learning, do you think of people gathered in a conference room listening to a trainer or professional consultant? Or, perhaps sitting in front of their laptops going through an online interactive course?

Sure, events like these are common manifestations of workplace learning. But there’s another one you may not immediately think of, and it’s growing — mentoring of employees by colleagues who are more senior, have more experience, and have a firm grasp on the realities of organizational life.

According to the most recent survey data from the Association for Talent Development, almost half — 48% — of organizations have formal mentoring programs. What’s more, 42% of those that don’t do mentoring are planning to start within the next couple of years.

A powerful tool

Those figures constitute a pretty emphatic endorsement of the power of mentors to coach, teach and train.

And the ATD survey of 969 talent development professionals turned up some additional interesting information, such as the increasing role of virtual mentoring. Fully 63% of respondents said their organization sponsored mentoring through remote video platforms like Zoom or FaceTime, up 24 percentage points from just five years earlier. By contrast, 78% of respondents said they had face-to-face mentoring programs in place.

But what are the benefits of mentoring? Some 61% of respondents said mentoring leads to increased job satisfaction, while 57% said it helps strengthen organizational culture. Other studies of mentoring have pointed to its role in boosting confidence and self-awareness.

Points to consider

If you’re thinking about creating a mentoring program or supplementing an existing one, here are some questions and data points to consider:

  • Who is your audience? Will you mentor only high-potential employees, or spread the program more widely?
  • How will you track success? In the survey, 56% of respondents said lack of metrics was their biggest mentoring challenge.
  • How will you recruit mentors? Some 47% of respondents said this was a problem.
  • Will you reward or recognize program participants? Some 46% of respondents said they do.
  • What support tools will you provide to participants? More than half of respondents said they offered a program guide, conversation starter ideas and a mentor-mentee agreement. About 30% said they provided mentees with biographies of the mentors.

This blog entry is based on the following ATD research report: “Mentoring for Success: Embracing Growth & Development,” Jan. 2023.

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