Mentoring Programs Help a Workforce Thrive

Many organizations are turning to internal training and mentoring to close skill gaps.


With 40 percent of workers (or more) considering quitting, mentoring is trending as the go-to strategy for employee engagement and development. Mentoring programs leverage the best source of information in any company (the people). Structured mentoring provides a framework that aligns with today’s employees’ stated wants and needs: Skills development, professional growth, and connection.

Mentoring can occur in different ways. Information-based mentoring is appropriate when mentees simply need information or understanding about a certain aspect of their work. Mentors share their experiences and techniques. With skill-based mentoring, mentees need to develop a specific skill. Many organizations are turning to internal training and mentoring to close skill gaps. When mentees need to focus on highly complex interpersonal behaviors, advocacy-based mentoring enables mentors to become a guiding influence and sounding board for the mentee.

Mentoring unlocks career potential

Workers are feeling unsettled and disconnected—not only from the pandemic. In one of the largest global surveys of workers, PwC found that 39 percent of the 32,500 workers surveyed thought that it is likely that their job will be obsolete within five years. Fully 60 percent were worried that automation is putting many jobs at risk.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The PwC survey also identifies employees’ optimism and willingness to adapt. Workers say they are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain (77 percent). They see retraining as a matter of personal responsibility (74 percent), and employees express confidence in their ability to adapt after coping with the upheaval of the pandemic.

Recently, MentorcliQ market research revealed that 92 percent of U.S. Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs. That number goes up to 100 percent among the top fifty. There’s a good reason. Mentoring programs can efficiently and cost-effectively transfer the existing knowledge and experience of the company’s tenured team members across the organization. This is true for both hard and soft skills and company culture. Workers who are new, as well as more experienced employees who want to retool or add to their skills.

Companies that offer upskilling and reskilling opportunities have an advantage in finding and retaining talent, especially with Millennials and Gen Z. More than 75 percent of Gen Z workers and about two-thirds of Millennial workers identified learning as a key to their career success. Deloitte reports that 81 percent of millennials will stay five years longer at a company with a mentor. Workers at practically every level are significantly less likely to quit if they have a mentor. (CNBC/SurveyMonkey)

Mentoring programs reduce employee turnover by increasing employee engagement

In the aftermath of the pandemic, it is harder than ever to retain the best talent. Job openings and workers quitting their jobs continue at near-record highs. The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. And it is not just about the money. It’s also about supporting high-achievers, the problem-solvers, the winners in an organization who don’t see a career path. Workers with in-demand skills are willing to walk away for jobs that offer a better quality of life, higher pay, more upskilling and reskilling opportunities, and more meaningful workplace connections.

Remote and hybrid work is here to stay. Successful employers are adapting by creating more ways to engage and connect with individuals and teams. Mentoring programs adapt easily to distributed teams in remote, hybrid, or in-office work environments. Zoom calls create acquaintances. Mentoring programs create connections that lead to meaningful business relationships.

Mentoring programs advance DE&I and talent goals

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is not a fad. Companies that are more diverse perform better financially than their peers. Plus, DE&I is a priority for most of the workforce, especially Millennials and Gen Z (the most diverse generation yet). We are excited to see more conversations with clients about reverse mentoring—a process that intentionally goes against the traditional format by having junior-level employees mentor senior-level team members. Most senior leaders are eager to learn new skills, ideas, and concepts that junior team members often bring with them that aren’t common among senior-level staff. Excitingly, plenty of junior employees are willing to share what they know.

Effective mentoring is more than the match

Whether self-directed or a third-party matching process, connecting the right people in mentoring pairings or groups is critical for the mentoring program to work. However, matching is just the first step. The flow of the mentoring relationship depends on the mentee’s needs, the mentor’s skills, and the relationship’s agreed-upon format. Here are a few tips.

  1. Mentoring is not one-size-fits-all. Administrators of successful mentoring programs thoughtfully consider internal audiences. WIIFM (What’s in It for Me) messaging maximizes employee participation. Successful mentoring is always based on openness, trust, and accountability.
  2. The job of the mentoring program administrator does not end with the match. Successful program administrators regularly monitor engagement data. . A cadence of check-ins with participants gains real-time feedback with time to intervene, if necessary, to guide relationships back on track. Even the best mentoring pairs can use occasional encouragement. This can be through tips and tools or a group discussion to deepen the learning around a particular topic.
  3. Mentoring statistics build the business case for mentoring. Think through what to measure and how the data will be collected and reported before the mentoring program begins. Obtain participants’ goals upfront. Choose tools that are simple to use to enter data and record hours.
  4. Mentoring programs powered by mentoring software make it easier to be intentional about matching team members and measuring results.

The learning from mentoring programs is bi-directional, uplifting new and tenured employees. Everyone wins when workers improve their skills, become more engaged in their roles, and gain a deeper connection to the organization’s culture.

Gracey Cantalupo is the Chief Marketing Officer at MentorcliQ. Gracey has over 15 years of experience in marketing and communications ranging from consumer products, entertainment and the software space. Gracey has a passion for mentoring, learning and teaching others. Gracey got to share this passion as an Adjunct Professor at NYU for Search & Digital Marketing and is excited to spread the mentoring love to employees globally with MentorcliQ.