If you answered no to either question, you are not alone. Most companies handle the issues of retention and mentoring by not doing anything until someone leaves.
Here are some reasons to seriously consider a formal mentoring program that targets the retention of your best employees.
* 75 percent of executives state that mentoring played a key role in their career success, according to the Association for Training and Development.
* 71 percent of Fortune 500 and private companies use mentoring in their organizations, according to AIRS Diversity Recruiting Summits 2004.
* 95 percent of mentoring participants reported that their mentoring experience motivated them to do their very best, according to The War for Talent, by McKinsey consultants Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod, Harvard Business School Press, 2001.
* Mentoring is the third most powerful relationship for influencing human behavior, after the family and couple relationships, if it is working, according to Richard E. Caruso, Ph.D.
While all of these items should be compelling, let's dig in a little deeper on the last two - that mentoring motivates and influences.
One of the biggest reasons employees leave a company, behind the obvious large raise someone may offer them to go elsewhere, is that they get bored and don't feel challenged in their job. Many times, this is because companies do nothing to encourage their employees to try to do something outside of their daily routine.
A working, strategic, easy-to-use mentoring program can be incredibly valuable in keeping the best employees motivated. If someone is having a bad day or just trying to get by until their next vacation, a good mentor can give that person a new perspective to keep him or her motivated.
From a recruiting and retention perspective, an online mentoring program can build a great bridge during the on-boarding process, in which new hires are assigned a mentor in their department to help them get acquainted with the company and meet people. That tie alone could keep a great candidate from continuing to look for an even better job before they start with you.
At any level in an employee's career, a mentor can use his or her influence to make sure the employee sticks around through the tough times rather than jumping ship. No HR department has enough employees to ensure it is monitoring the ups and downs of all employees, but a good mentoring program can do just that. If someone has a good mentor and is part of a great mentoring program, the odds are much greater that they may not want to give that up just for a few more dollars somewhere else.
Look for an easy-to-use mentoring program - not one that requires everyone to meet face-to-face each week or month, but possibly something online where the mentor and the person being mentored don't even have to be in the same office to have a beneficial relationship (this works great for the college recruiting program). Also, remember that the mentoring programs that fail are those that try to decide, "Who needs mentoring?" not "What can our business benefit from with a mentoring program?" If you start within the context of what you want your company to gain from a mentoring program, then work backward, you will get more executive and employee support.
Jeff Dahltorp is director of marketing and business development for TruStar Solutions, the leader in creating exceptional hiring strategies. He is a regular contributor to human resource industry publications such as HR.com and Electronic Recruiting Exchange and Online Recruiting Magazine. He has spoken at industry specific trade shows such as IMRA, CUPA, NRA, NACE and IHRIM on the topic of Internet recruiting practices. He has a bachelor's and master.s degree from Purdue University. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 813-0340.