Does Your Company Need a Mentor Program?

Does Your Company Need a Mentor Program?

Last updated on January 30th, 2023

Mentoring was once reserved for building senior leadership talent pipelines – not anymore. Today, over 70% of Fortune 500 companies make mentoring a fundamental part of their recruitment, retention, and engagement strategies for many employees. The fact is, when done right, mentorships can be a win-win, and their resurgence couldn’t have come at a better time.

We all know the statistics – the average age of retirement in construction is 61 and today more than 1 in 5 construction workers is over 55. As if the talent shortage isn’t bad enough, issues are compounded when you consider the pending loss of institutional and on-the-job knowledge that will accompany workers into retirement. Before construction managers, project managers, and experienced tradespeople leave the workforce, it’s imperative to tap into their wealth of knowledge and set up future workers – and your company – for success.

Gen Zers and Millennials make up about 40% of today’s workforce and they’re unlike any predecessor. They place a premium on having a purpose and being valued and respected. Being in the first two digitally native generations, they want continuous learning. Both work/life balance and professional development are important. If a company’s values, culture, and environment don’t align with their priorities, they may not stick around for an interview much less a job.

Unlike what these employees learned in a classroom, apprenticeship or internship, mentorships can help provide insights into your company culture, the value proposition your company and their profession offer, and soft skills like decision-making, active listening, communication, and collaboration.

Mentor programs are used to build leadership and communication skills; provide networking opportunities; improve quality and safety; promote employee ownership of professional development; navigate on-the-job challenges; provide a window into career opportunities and professional development; expose new employees to all aspects of a job; foster diversity and inclusion; break down silos; hasten the pace of merger and acquisition integration; and more.

By pairing a workforce entrant with an experienced employee, new employees gain insights into why things are done a certain way, the rewards and challenges of a construction career, what clients really expect, or even the best way to stay safe on the job (which is valuable considering 60% of on-the-job injuries involve employees with less than a year of service).

A mentor program can also serve as a retention tool for existing talent. When more experienced workers are asked to share experiences, skills, and knowledge, they feel valued and have another reason to put off retirement – in fact, retention rates are higher among mentors than non-mentors.

Today’s mentoring programs come in many formats – one-on-one, group, or even online – and last anywhere from a few months to a few years. Some build a talent pipeline by offering mentoring to high school or college students. Others focus on new hires or any employee seeking development. There are even reverse mentorships, where experienced business leaders pair up with new workers to learn about growing up with technology and other traits of Gen Z and Millennials.

Numerous construction associations offer mentor programs as part of their skill building toolkits. Still, many employers build customized programs targeting employee and company priorities. Software is available to help track and facilitate program activities.

Visible executive support is vital to help build support of the program; foster participation; and market an employee value proposition. “We have the best people. We learn from each other. We help each other succeed.” Those are potent selling points to employees that value living a meaningful life.

To maximize ROI, a program should have a formal structure and process for recruiting and training mentors, goals and success measures, and prescribed activities and timelines. One way to promote effectiveness is by conducting a pilot; asking for feedback; and making adjustments before launching companywide.

One challenge to prepare for is motivating existing employees to step up as mentors. Consider what’s in it for them. Plan for special recognition in company communications and at events. Share success stories. Provide incentives ranging from gift cards and extra time off to bonuses.

While there is no magic bullet for resolving current staffing challenges, mentoring programs check off a number of boxes in terms of delivering value to recruits, employees, companies, and clients. Interested in learning more? Our Visions Human Resources affiliate staff is available to work with your team on mentor programs (as well as other recruiting and retention tools), while RBT CPAs can free you up by taking on your accounting, tax, bookkeeping, and audit responsibilities. Give us a call today.