According to Inc. magazine, millennials are predicted to make up half of the American workforce by 2020. Some companies have already reported that millennials account for more than two-thirds of their employees, showing that for some organizations, the future is already here.
As this generation develops into the leaders of tomorrow, there are some steps employers can take now to ensure that these individuals are prepared to step into leadership roles. Mentorship is one of these key steps, and millennials are well aware of it. According to research conducted by the Huffington Post, around 79 percent of millennials view mentoring as a key contributor to their professional success. The organizations with mentorship programs are the ones that will attract high potential millennials who are seeking mentors to help them grow professionally.
Why Mentorship Matters to Employees
Millennials are a generation of people who want to succeed, but they do not necessarily want to adhere to the corporate culture norms of previous generations. They want managers who inspire, not task masters who are solely focused on deliverables.
A mentorship program allows millennial employees to build trust-based relationships with leaders who share their knowledge and are accessible when challenges arise. Having a clear channel of communication and a resource they can tap into when they have questions also eases employee fears, especially for new hires. Cultivating a mutual relationship instead of a hierarchical one leads to employee empowerment, accountability, loyalty, and trust.
Mentorship programs also demonstrate that your organization is committed to helping millennial employees grow and thrive. Actions speak louder than words and this type of program is meaningful to participants at every level and in every generation. Millennials know that having a mentor can give them an edge in their careers, and the research supports this—according to a Gartner study, employees with mentors are five times more likely to get a promotion or a raise. For young professionals advancing in their careers, any opportunity to gain an edge is welcome.
Why Mentorship Matters to Organizations
Mentorship programs boost employee retention, which is an important metric for any business. Research from Deloitte indicates that millennials who intend to stay in their roles for more than five years are 68 percent more likely to have a mentor. One reason for this is that employees’ frustrations can be detected and addressed earlier when they have a mentor to turn to for guidance. Accountability also improves with the presence of mentorship programs. Employees are 70 percent more likely to achieve their goals if they share them with a mentor.
The relationship is mutually beneficial for mentees and mentors. Mentees gain valuable knowledge and guidance, while mentors learn new leadership skills to help them grow their own careers. The cycle feeds itself, which provides long-term benefits to an organization. The vast majority (89 percent) of people who have gone through a mentorship program are likely to mentor others, positioning millennials to become mentors for the next generation of employees
Introducing Mentorship in Your Organization
Mentorship programs require genuine effort from all participants, but this is what makes them so effective. When employees and leaders make individual personal connections, the results are powerful. When considering a new job, millennials tend to look for companies that are willing to make an investment in them, and a mentorship program is a strong indicator that they will get the type of individual attention they are seeking.
It’s also important to provide the necessary resources for mentors. When introducing a mentorship program or bringing new mentors in, the leaders in your organization will need to be trained on coaching skills. Being a mentor might be a new role for them, and leaders cannot be expected to develop these essential skills on their own. A good place to start is our free resource, A Practical Guide to Coaching Your Team.