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6 Reasons Why Business Leaders Should Implement Official Mentor Programs

Mentorship programs benefit employees as well as company culture and profits.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The mentor-mentee relationship has been commonplace in business for a long time. In today’s rapidly changing and hyper-competitive global economy, executives are looking for every edge they can find to increase revenue, profit and market share; they're leaving no stone unturned. One successful trend has been the rise of formal mentor programs. A study by the American Society for Training and Development found that 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies surveyed had some type of corporate mentorship program.

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Related: Create a Corporate Mentoring Program and You May Reap the Benefits

As the CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, I have seen many of our world-class customers leverage the power of mentorship programs; here are six reasons why your business should, too:

1. Accelerates growth and development

The aforementioned study by the American Society for Training and Development found that 75 percent of executives surveyed credited their mentors with helping them reach their current positions. In fact, Warren Buffett, Colin Powell, Cal Ripken, Jr. and even Oprah give credit to their mentors for helping lead to their success. 

While official managers can often become mentors, that is not always the case. An official mentorship program can give employees the chance to not only connect and deepen relationships with fellow colleagues, but also learn from the company’s top performers. 

2. Helps recruit and retain talent

Data from an Emerging Workforce study showed that 35 percent of employees surveyed who said they didn't receive regular mentoring planned to look for another job within 12 months. The cost of a bad hire is enormous and a mentor program can be a key driver to help attract and retain top talent.

3. Attracts millennials

Deloitte’s 2016 Global Millennials Survey, which reached out to 7,700 mllennials in 29 countries, found that a staggering two-thirds of them plan to leave their current organization by 2020. With 83 million members, millennials have already supplanted baby boomers as the largest sector of the U.S. population and by 2025, they will make up 75 percent of the workforce.

As a result, companies have been investing significantly to figure out how to adjust their corporate goals and culture to attract and retain millennials. Millennials prefer mentors over disciplinarians, and as such it is critical to offer them more “carrots” than “sticks.”

Related: 6 Tips for Developing a Mentorship Program That Keeps Millennial Employees Growing

4. Reverse-mentors baby boomers

Mentoring does not solely benefit junior employees. The meshing of millennials and baby boomers, along with the influx of technology, has led to "reverse mentoring." The concept began with several Fortune 500 companies but has quickly gained momentum.

Retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch is widely credited for bringing the practice to the United States. After returning from an overseas business trip in 1999, he ordered his top leaders to find a junior-level mentor to teach them computer skills. The Wall Street Journal noted that companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Cisco and Ogilvy & Mather have formal reverse-mentoring programs that are having positive results.   

5. Benefits are vast for those involved

The benefits of these programs are vast and wide and impact the mentor, mentee and the organization as a whole. Mentees can increase their self-confidence and interpersonal skills and acquire a better understanding of the organization's culture and unspoken rules, both of which are critical for success.

Mentors are able to “give back” by sharing hard-earned knowledge and experiences, which can increase feelings of self-worth and job satisfaction levels. Furthermore, the organization as a whole gets to demonstrate to the employee base that it is committed to investing in their career development.  

6. Can benefit the CEO

The Harvard Business Review, in an article titled "CEOs Need Mentors Too," did a two-year study and found that dozens of executives were getting counsel and feedback from high-profile veteran leaders from outside their own companies. The burden of making business decisions at a very senior level does not need to be made alone. While the buck may stop with you, good ideas and counsel can come from anywhere and should be tapped into, especially since chief executives today are lasting an average of only 7.6 years in their role, down from 9.5 years in 1995.

Related: 3 Steps for a Mentorship Program That Works

Companies that invest the time and resources to formalize and implement mentorship programs have a real opportunity to dramatically improve their corporate culture, recruiting efforts and, ultimately, their profits.

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