Mentoring: Remote work’s secret weapon for employee engagement
The covid-19 pandemic and quarantine have impacted work in many ways, most pointedly, requiring a sharp and widespread pivot to remote work. This shift to remote work has had its own knock-on effects, changing the dynamics of employee engagement and, in some ways, making it much more difficult. There has been an abrupt decrease in face to face communication, coupled with fewer opportunities to share recognition and foster camaraderie across organizations.
To address this, organizations are increasingly examining new strategies to sustain their culture and keep employees engaged while working remotely from home. Online games and happy hours can help improve morale, but they do little to address employees’ engagement with their jobs. One often overlooked tool is mentoring. According to a study from an Olivet Nazarene University Survey, only about 2 in 5 workers consider themselves to have a mentor. These relationships can have dramatic impacts on individual workers and entire organizations, resulting in marked improvement in employee engagement.
Surprising Benefits of Mentoring
The most obvious benefits are felt by the mentees, who are on the receiving end of mentorship. Mentoring is recognized as a remarkably effective way to develop a wide range of skills, both industry specific and more general soft skills. Through a mentor, a worker can also find a valuable channel of support to deal with challenges and offset workplace stress. Furthermore, mentees are typically the ones responsible for planning meetings and charting the path forward. Managing this close relationship requires responsibility and accountability on the part of the mentee. These translate into increased engagement in their roles and with the organization overall.
Mentors also benefit substantially from providing mentorship. There is a lot be gained from refreshing their perspective on a variety of employment issues. In addition, the interpersonal skills used to provide guidance to a mentee often align with the management skills mentors are developing in their own roles. A study featured in the Harvard Business Review also found that mentors experienced lower levels of anxiety, and described their job as more meaningful, than those who did not mentor. These positive outcomes dovetail closely with improved feelings of engagement.
Beyond the positive impacts of mentorship on participating employees, organizations stand to benefit as well. Giving mentees access to training along with ownership of the mentoring relationship creates an environment that strongly engages them. These relationships also significantly help lower turnover and improve talent retention. Organizations then prosper from having a more committed, higher skilled, and better engaged workforce. Workplaces with strong mentoring programs also foster stronger cross-departmental collaboration and organizational understanding. Over time, as proactive employees seek guidance from dedicated mentors, the company’s senior culture imprints across the organization and reinforces a sense of commitment.
A Great Time to Invest in Mentorship
The benefits of building a mentor program are well worth the investment. When the right people are set up with the right tools it requires relatively little financial or logistical effort. Though remote work has separated employees, it has also placed a substantial number of communication tools in their hands. For remote workers and teams, mentorship can function as a great way to build networks and break down silos. For smaller organizations, the process can be simple enough to arrange. Software, and tools like Pushfar, also exist for larger organizations to administer, automate, and track mentor programs. Mentoring programs are a low-cost employee engagement gamechanger for a workforce that has suddenly become remote. Surprising as it may seem, this could be the right time for an organization to invest in mentorship.
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