Create a Corporate Mentoring Program and You May Reap the Benefits

The benefits of having experienced employees train those with less expertise are many.

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By Heather R. Huhman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Mentorship is essential for the success of many organizations. Whether the mentorship program is formal or informal, employees can benefit from this type of workplace relationship.

A 2013 study, "Career Benefits Associated with Mentoring for Mentors," published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, discovered people who have the opportunity to serve as mentors experience greater job satisfaction and a higher commitment to their employer.

Yet, a March study by DDI World, "Women as Mentors," found 63 percent of slightly more than 300 businesswomen surveyed across the world have never had a mentor.

If employers want to boost employee retention and engagement, they should set up corporate mentoring programs. Here are four practices for creating an effective workplace mentoring program:

Related: 3 Hacks for Making the Most Out of a Mentoring Relationship

1. Define goals.

Ask questions such as "What do you plan to achieve from this program?" or "Why do employees need mentors?" to identify goals for a new mentoring program.

Effective corporate-mentoring programs focus on objectives such as increasing employee productivity and engagement, retaining talent and succession planning.

Make sure goals are specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic and time bound or SMART.

2. Identify mentors.

The ideal mentor is an accomplished role model. This person should have an eagerness to help others and be willing to make a time commitment. Look for suitable mentors at your company.

When introducing mentors are introduced to their mentees, they should start off the relationship in a casual setting. For example, have mentors invite mentees out for coffee so that the employee will feel more comfortable speaking to a senior-level employee.

3. Design training materials.

Mentorship programs should be designed so that participating employees will learn skills to help them grow.

In addition to mentors and mentees having one-on-one meetings, offer an online-mentoring course or publish a handbook for mentors and mentees to follow.

Related: So How Will You Ever Get Off the Desert Island?

4. Measure results.

Develop a plan to assess the success of a company's mentoring program by identifying the metrics to be used. Take note of the frequency of meetings and interactions between mentors and mentees.

Set up metrics to assess talent retention, employee engagement and even whether bonuses (for terrific work) went to particpating employees. These results can be measured every six months or during employee performance reviews.

A 2013 Vestrics study examined responses from more than 830 mentees and some 670 mentors participating in Sun Microsystem's program. Employee retention rates climbed 69 percent for the mentors and 72 percent for the mentees over the seven-year period of the study. The increased retention resulted in a savings of $6.7 billion in avoided staff turnover and replacement costs.

Since 2011 DHL Express has run an advanced mentoring program so U.S. employees can learn new skills, understand the company culture on a larger scale and develop a career path. Through this, 60 percent of the mentees advanced their careers at the company over the course of a year.

What are your best tips for creating a corporate mentoring program?

Related: Mentors Can Fill in Any Yawning Gaps as Your Startup Integrates New Grads

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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