Why Mentoring is Vital to Employee Engagement

There are some scary statistics out there about employee engagement, or rather, lack of employee engagement. Some studies suggest that only around 10% of employees are engaged in the workplace. Other studies are slightly more positive, suggesting it’s closer to 20%! Either way, it’s not great for company directors, HR managers and department heads. Don’t worry though, you are not alone in this fight and fortunately, there are several solutions. One such solution to boost employee engagement, productivity and satisfaction is mentoring.

Mentoring is a well-known approach for employee training, career development and growth but it can often be overlooked when it comes to employee engagement. There are perhaps a few reasons why this happens. One such reason is that mentoring is traditionally quick difficult to trace and attribute success to. Because mentoring is, by its very nature, less formal than most training and personal development, the reporting on it is limited and in a lot of cases, non-existent. However, with the advancements of technology and platforms like PushFar, it does not have to be. Mentoring programmes can now be setup in minutes and once executed can be one of the single-biggest ways to increase employee engagement. But why and how?

Mentoring serves as an invaluable resource for millions of employees around the world and it can often act as a way of empowering employees on both sides – be it as a mentor or a mentee. When we are mentored, we feel valued as employees, because we feel that additional resource is being put to our disposal. By having both a manager and a mentor, we feel that we are being professional nurtured and encouraged to succeed. In addition to the encouragement to succeed, we are given a second channel for communication, support and career growth. While a manager is undoubtedly of huge importance, having a mentor can act as a secondary support channel. And with around 50% of all staff leaving their job due to management issues, you may well find that by adding in a mentoring scheme, your staff and employee retention increases too. And it is not just mentees who can benefit from mentoring. Those employees who mentor others are also given a sense of satisfaction, empowerment and responsibility, which can further employee engagement too. There’s a fantastic quote from musician Phil Collins, “in teaching we learn and in learning we teach”. This is, at the heart of mentoring. If your employees can pass and share knowledge, insights and experience, throughout your workforce it will not only help to create a more efficient and skilled workforce, but it will encourage employee engagement.

Furthermore, the great thing about mentoring and being mentored is that the two are not mutually exclusive. A professional, in almost every case, can be both a mentor and a mentee. We all have experience and continue to grow and develop through both teaching and learning. New employees can be mentored by more established professionals. More established professionals can be mentored by more senior or experienced professionals. The cycle can go on and the engagement rates can increase. So, if you aren’t yet offering a mentoring scheme within your organisation, I would highly recommend you explore the options for getting one up and running. The resource required is minimal and the chances are that you will increase employee engagement, productivity and staff retention.

The Need for Co-Learning in the Workplace

The need for peer to peer or co-learning is needed more than ever in places of work. Current training and development practices are just not reliable or capable on their own; this may sound odd coming from someone with a training based business!

When a group of people are learning from each other, critical advances happen in the work quality alongside the trust and transparency which then grows. Something that would not occur in a traditional learning and development format. Alongside this, the engagement and motivation levels increase. Not just in the person who is now absorbing a wealth of new information, but also through the member delivering the knowledge; the person is being used to their advantage, and that person is now feeling a sense of responsibility through empowerment.

Co-learning is not a new thing in business, people have always learnt from each other in the office. This has usually been to share best practice and specific skills which has been related to a task. However, the development of further co-learning exercises regarding skills that team members have developed from outside the workplace and not directly linked to the functions in the place of work could help increase the innovation and productivity which powers the business forward.

As a leader, you may never have asked your team members what other skills and areas of strength they are developing in their own time. It has never been business related, therefore, why would you? However, those coding skills, language skills, creative skills could be turned into transferable skills or new ways in developing a process. And what better person to deliver it, other than the team member themselves.

The sharing of knowledge and learning is a great asset, and I believe the development of co-learning opportunities in the workplace, alongside other sharing economy features, will help any leader to then get the best from the team and the task at hand.

Despite many developments in making formal training more interactive, it doesn’t meet the needs of many styles of learning. Kinaesthetic learning in particular, and, although the co-learning experience can be as equally as visual or auditory, there is a certain higher level of understanding through a personal approach that is engaging and captivating.

The transferring of skills in a workplace can be easy as getting team members to write down what they feel comfortable with and getting them to complete their skill swaps with others. Therefore, eliminating the management levels and allowing employees to feel trusted in a task which will enable them to grow with the business, thus, increasing the empowerment, intrinsic and self-development levels.

When I have helped to put this process into existing businesses, I have often advised the leaders that the content of what is learnt may seem irrelevant to the job. However, this is not a significant concern as the real power of co-learning comes from the new connections which start to form. A clear indication that strong social capital is developing, this is an essential ingredient if the business is then seeking higher innovation and productivity through team members extending internal connections which have meaning.

My YouTube video on Co-Learning