January is National Mentoring Month, dedicated to shining a spotlight on the power of relationships and the importance of mentoring. Mentoring is often associated with young people, who can experience improved academic, social, and economic benefits that, in turn, strengthen whole communities.
Mentoring is not just impactful for young people, though. Employee mentoring programs are an important part of the workplace that can improve the quality of work, boost employee productivity, and create a more positive company culture. When a company has an internal mentoring program in place, retention for both mentors and mentees is higher — 69% and 72%, respectively — and mentees are five times more likely to move up the pay scale.
Here’s a closer look at how you can build a new mentorship program at your organization (or enhance an existing one), as well as how you can make the most of National Mentoring Month to supplement your efforts and bring greater focus to mentoring.
Building an Employee Mentorship Program
A mentorship program works best when it doesn’t feel obligatory or too rigid. It’s important not to assign people to each other but to give both mentors and mentees some choice in who they connect with — such as offering the mentor or mentee three people with whom they can pair up. Outside of this guideline, here are some additional thoughts for how to build or enhance your organization’s mentoring program:
- Establish the type of mentoring program. Peer-to-peer mentoring works well for new employees to learn about the organization from experienced employees, while career mentoring specifically helps mentees develop professionally and advance their careers. At a broad level, life mentoring allows mentors and mentees to connect about life’s journey in general, with work being just one component of it.
- Set clear expectations. Mentoring can mean different things to different people. Once you know what type of program to put in place, make sure everyone participating knows what to expect and what not to expect from the program, and that everyone’s time and effort are valuable.
- Create a structure to help facilitate mentoring. Maybe mentors and mentees should meet once a week or once a month; maybe they should meet in a workplace setting or outside of the office. Whatever makes the most sense for your organization, make sure everyone is following the recommended structure to help participants build a meaningful connection with each other while respecting some healthy boundaries.
You can also consider using the dates listed below as a catalyst for getting your program off the ground or incorporating mentoring more fully into your organization.
Important National Mentoring Dates
National Mentoring Month featured several nationally recognized mentoring events. Below is a recap of these dates:
On Thursday, January 6, 2022, volunteer mentors celebrated their role and shared how their mentees have impacted them during I Am a Mentor Day. In case you missed out on the day, you can sponsor a similar effort within your organization or community (see below for more ideas). On Monday, January 17, 2022, many participated in a national conversation by sharing powerful and inspirational mentoring stories through photos, videos, and messages on social media. Also on January 17, communities gathered to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message and the spirit of service through volunteerism. On January 27, mentees thanked their mentors by posting messages of gratitude on social media. From January 26 to January 28 individuals joined virtually and in-person with mentoring practitioners, researchers, philanthropic investors, youth leaders, government and civic leaders, and MENTOR affiliates to advance a mentoring agenda and strengthen mentoring programs and practices.
How to Celebrate the Month Internally
It’s important to recognize participants in your mentoring program who are going the extra mile for each other and for their personal and career goals. Here’s how you can celebrate internally:
- If employees are working in person, suggest that mentees treat mentors to coffee or lunch, or write a note of gratitude as a thank you for their support and guidance.
- If employees are working remotely, set up a video conference for all participants to share what the mentoring program means to them and any special stories about their experiences.
- Similar to youth mentoring, schedule days when mentees can shadow their mentors on the job and gain more knowledge about different roles or fields.
- Hold an internal recruitment day to inspire more employees to participate in the program as either mentors or mentees.
How to Celebrate the Month Locally
Both outside and within your organization, here are some ideas for fun events and inspired actions you can organize in your community throughout the month:
- Schedule a special luncheon for mentors and their mentees and invite a successful and/or inspirational local leader to speak and interact with those in attendance.
- Arrange a shadowing day when youth mentees can go to work with their mentors and learn about their jobs.
- Sponsor a walk or run to help raise money for mentoring programs, and invite mentors and mentees to join in.
- Schedule a “Thank You” day for mentees to recognize the good work of their mentors.
- Sponsor a recruitment fair for all local mentoring organizations to participate in.
- Set up an open house for mentors, youth mentees, and their families to meet and socialize, and create an opportunity for new mentors to sign up.
- Hold a press conference with local media outlets to announce new mentoring collaborations or programs.
MENTOR offers a variety of resources you can use to help start a mentoring program or expand an existing one, or simply learn more. Click here to access mentoring guides, national surveys, research, toolkits, training modules, webinars, and more. Click here to access MENTOR’s workplace mentoring resources.
For additional information about mentoring in the workplace, click here to read an article explaining what questions employees can ask their mentors for success.
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