According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, those intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%). In today’s competitive hiring environment, it’s safe to say that companies who fail to invest in and develop young employees are likely to lose them.
Research by the Association for Talent Development found that formal mentorship programs consistently resulted in higher employee engagement and retention. Mentorship programs can reduce the costs associated with recruiting and hiring and help build a more engaged, productive workforce.
In this post we’ll explore five strategies for mentoring Millennials, including:
- Formal mentorship programs
- Reverse-mentoring programs
- Group mentoring
- Peer-to-peer learning programs
Formal Mentoring Program
The first step in committing to mentoring your Millennials is to implement a formal mentorship program. While this may seem like common sense, many CEOs make the mistake of assuming mentoring will happen naturally on-the-job. However, without a structured, documented mentorship program in place it’s unlikely your younger team members will get the coaching and support they need.
Considerations for your mentorship program could include:
- When are new hires eligible for participation in the program?
- How are mentors/mentees paired?
- How frequently will mentor/mentee pairs meet?
- What is the duration of the program?
Ultimately, mentors should aim to help mentees structure and set goals for themselves. Mentors can help their Millennial mentees visualize a long-term career path and define the steps they need to take to get there. Career paths are becoming decreasingly linear. Millennials need the skills, knowledge and support to navigate complex career paths. A formal mentorship program can help your younger employees see a long-term future with your company.
For Millennials, their job is a key part of their life. They reject the traditional notion of work-life balance and instead embrace purpose-driven work as a core component of their identity. Reverse-mentoring programs are a great way to instill a sense of purpose within your team’s day-to-day activities, while also developing mentors and mentees.
In reverse-mentoring programs, Millennials are matched with executives to mentor them on technology, social media and other emerging industry trends. Although the relationship is structured so that the younger employee is mentoring the more senior employee, more often than not the executive ends up reciprocating by providing mentorship as well.
Reverse-mentoring is particularly impactful because both sides get to learn, grow and enjoy the feeling that they are helping someone.
Millennials are, by nature, highly social. In the era of social media, they’re accustomed to constant streams of communication. They also highly value teamwork and collaboration. Group mentoring is a great way to appeal to Gen Y’s social nature.
Although conducted in a group setting, each mentee focuses on their unique learning needs and development goals. The great part about group mentoring is it allows mentees to seek out mentors whose skills or career path is most in line with their own goals.
You may also consider offering mentor-driven development classes such as a workshop on how to create a departmental budget or how to give a great presentation to senior leadership. Collaborative group mentoring programs help facilitate knowledge sharing and a sense of camaraderie among the team.
Ultimately, Millennials are looking for fast-paced career advancement. If they feel they are stagnating in a current role, they won’t hesitate to leave to pursue other opportunities. While traditional mentorship programs are great, sponsorship programs are a more structured way to develop and promote your Millennial workforce.
In a sponsorship, an employee’s mentor not only coaches them, but also actively advocates for them when opportunities become available. Sponsorship programs help pair employees with mentors that have strong networks and power within the decision-making process. These types of programs create real opportunities for advancement within the organization.
Peer-to-Peer Learning Programs
Recognizing the Millennial need for teamwork and technology-driven communications, some companies are rolling out digital peer-to-peer learning programs. These online groups allow co-workers to connect, share best practices and learn from each other. Surveys by BT found that 78% of employees enjoy learning from their peers, although many companies are committing little money or attention to facilitating this.
Peer-to-peer learning programs can help new hires assimilate more quickly, reducing ramp-up time. They can also reduce your organization’s training costs in the long-term. These peer-to-peer interactions can take place in chat rooms, forums, document sharing, and more.
- Mentorship programs are a great way to develop and retain your top team members.
- Don’t assume mentoring will happen naturally on the job. Create and document a formal mentorship program to ensure your workforce is committed to mentoring.
- Reverse-mentoring can help give your younger team members a greater sense of purpose in their position.
- Group mentoring appeals to naturally-social Millennials.
- Peer-to-peer learning programs facilitate the sharing of best practices and cut down on ramp-up times for new hires.
About the Author
Carolyn Kick is the Director of Marketing at Launchways. Launchways helps growing businesses better approach the people side of their business through strategic solutions for human resources, employee benefits and business insurance.