Mentoring isn’t simply a “nice” thing to do. It can actually be a moneymaker for your agency. Consider that over one-quarter of employees surveyed in a Robert Half & Associates study admitted they are willing to quit a new job in the first three months if they aren’t satisfied.
The cost of employee turnover for a low-paying position – which typically suffers from high-resignation rates – can be 16% of the annual salary for that position. For mid-range positions, this jumps to 20%. If turnover continues unchecked, these costs are paid by the company again and again.
As explained in the 2017 Hiring Outlook report by Execu | Search Group, “In today’s digital landscape, employees do not need to search very far to discover if they could receive higher pay or better benefits at another company. Additionally, there is no shortage of open positions to explore their career options. As a result, they may not be inclined to stay with their employer for very long.”
Many companies have resigned themselves to this “job hopping” and simply devote less and less to new hires. Yet as the hiring report concludes, “Keep in mind that an employee isn’t destined to job hop. They may just be waiting for an employer who reciprocates the same care that is put into their work. Rather than refusing to invest in new hires, organizations may want to consider that perhaps, professionals would have longer tenures if an employer actually invested in them.”
To counter a revolving door at your own agency, consider establishing or improving a formal mentoring program that can boost employee engagement, morale and loyalty. The importance of strong mentoring is more vital than ever when you factor in millennials’ emphasis on career development opportunities, which they consider to be one of the most important corporate offerings.
To successfully mentor new hires requires a deliberate approach. Here are recommendations for a strong mentoring program:
- Assign mentors carefully. About 50% of employees say they leave their companies “to get away from their bosses,” while 70% of workplace engagement is influenced by an employee’s relationship with his or her direct supervisor. A mentor gives an employee another superior or valuable sounding board. Recognize that a good “fit” is more important than a mentor’s exact position, and choose empathetic leaders who can quickly help the new hire feel secure, included and valued as an individual.
- Give mentors time to plan. Make sure a mentor is assigned as soon as someone has accepted a job offer. Mentoring should not be done on-the-fly.
- Provide structure. Help mentors by giving them a checklist of items they must cover with their protégés. This should include (but doesn’t have to be limited to):
- The agency’s mission and how the new hire is believed to complement it. The goal is to help every employee understand why they were “chosen”, and the role they play in the company’s overall success.
- The agency’s history and goals. Include details about who has come before and how the organization has grown and changed. This lets the person know they are joining something with an existing narrative, but also with purpose and vision – the virtual roots and wings every galvanized team needs.
- The nuts and bolts of the job. These are the day-to-day details someone needs to know to be successful in their role. What are the processes? How are projects managed and what are the available tools? Don’t forget about the frustration caused by a complicated time-card process or the finicky copy machine.
- The intangible aspects of the job. Share an insider’s perspective – potential landmines that someone from the outside might not know. This can be one of the most important ways a mentor can nurture growth. It doesn’t mean sharing office gossip, but it does require frank discussion and honest feedback. For example: “The biggest pet peeve of our CEO is late arrival to meetings, so try to come at least 10 minutes ahead to avoid this,” or, “We offer time off for volunteering because it’s an important part of our corporate culture, so be sure to take advantage of that benefit. It will definitely earn you positive recognition.”
- Engage from the start. Most new hires have a few weeks between accepting and starting a new position. Use this time to have them fill out required paperwork in advance. Recognize that many new hires complain of boredom their first couple of months – without a structured plan, no one seems to know what to do with them. And simply handing over reading materials or asking new hires to tag along at meetings just makes them feel like more of a burden than a valuable member of the team. Meet with their boss before they arrive to ensure there is a ready list of tasks or projects and add your own as appropriate.
- Work together on the employee’s personal goals. This starts with listening. Take the time to learn about the individual’s life situation, unique talents and long-term goals. Even seemingly inconsequential goals, such as desiring quick transition to a quieter area of the office, is worth discussion. Brainstorm ideas and timelines to reach those goals. Develop trust by first revealing some of your goals.
- Be yourself. This is perhaps the most important element of any successful mentor relationship. Let down your guard and don’t be afraid to let your human side show.
The Difference Between a Mentor and Friend
Many mentors find it difficult to navigate the line between mentor and friend. After all, you often discuss some rather personal topics: How can work/life balance be improved? What does the employee dislike about the agency? What are difficulties with their boss?
A good mentor should also be empathetic, warm and supportive. However, a mentor must retain their role as leader and guide – you may be equally important as individuals, but you are not professional equals. If you were, you wouldn’t be able to provide the guidance your understudy deserves. While you can certainly dispense with formalities and hold lively, genuine discussions, take your position seriously and share what your mentee needs to hear, even if it isn’t something they want to hear.
Article By: Donna Gray
Source: Property Casualty 360