Multi-Generational Mentorship Is Key to Employee and Organizational Success — Here’s Why
The world continues to change, but the need for mentorship remains
By Chantal Brine
In 2021 and 2022, there were many stories about “The Great Resignation” across North America. In Canada, this manifested itself as more of a “Great Reflection,” with employees thinking about what type of work was more suitable to them. Job rates remained relatively within normal fluctuations post-pandemic when compared with pre-pandemic. “It’s not so much a ‘Great Resignation,’ but a ‘Great Rethink’ or ‘Great Reconsideration’ of the type of work that people want to do,” David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data says.
The outcome of more employees embracing “The Great Reflection” has forced employers to reevaluate their value propositions, employee benefits, and re-examine how to deliver meaningful employee experiences that attract and retain top talent.
Through all these changes, the value of mentorship in organizations and communities has not changed. Perhaps, more than before, it’s become a critical tool in an employer’s arsenal to successfully compete for talent in the future of work.
Mentorship Across Generations
Organizations need to focus on the retention of people and their knowledge while simultaneously figuring out how to meet the unique needs, values, and expectations of a multi-generational workforce. The labour market currently consists of five generations. Additionally, with one in five working adults now nearing retirement, the exodus of employees means a huge loss of knowledge transfer and organizational history.
Mentorship can be the valuable solution that supports the preservation of knowledge, promotes learning, and builds employee connections to the organization and to fellow employees. Additionally, it offers an added benefit for those who are expected to manage different generations, and it’s in the best interest of companies to develop good managers that are collaborative with and respected by all age groups.
Employees can also benefit from “reverse mentorship.” This form of mentorship can help them adapt to new technologies, leverage new data, and gain valuable insight on workplace trends and expectations from different generations. Reverse mentoring also offers newer staff the opportunity to feel heard and welcomed, which, when combined with other HR initiatives, can help reduce employee turnover. Both millennials and Gen Z employees generally have expectations regarding working in an organization where they are able to do meaningful work and see their potential for growth. Employers and managers should create the conditions for growth and understand that mentorship is an expectation for these two generations.
Mentorship For Career Pivots
For many, recent shifts in the world of work created an opportune time for a career change.
In contrast, employers were finding themselves facing hiring challenges, including low application numbers and widening skills gaps. This time called for a shift in perceptions in corporate culture around employee education, skill expectations, and hiring practices.
This period provided no better time to place reskilling and upskilling paired with mentorship at the forefront of priorities for both employees and employers. According to a Pew Research Center Survey, nearly 7 in 10 workers are willing to retrain and learn new skills on the job.
Having a formalized mentorship program can be the vehicle to help employees stay with an organization while making their desired pivot across departments by connecting them with an employee who possesses the skills required to grow.
Mentorship For Community Building
Research shows that diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability by 25% and additionally are 3 to 4 times more productive. This is attributed to the company’s unique insights, improvements in problem-solving, and enhancement of full and authentic employee engagement.
One way to increase diversity and create an environment that is inclusive of all employees is by using mentorship as a tool throughout an organization’s hiring, engagement, and retention efforts. Instead of depending solely on traditional hiring methods like career fairs and job postings for recruitment, organizations can offer mentorship opportunities that connect them with prospective employees from diverse communities. Mentorship when paired with sponsorship can be a powerful tool.
Mentorship for Employee Experience
Formalized mentorship at work is now increasingly becoming part of an organization’s HR initiatives in order to help solve the issue of connecting, uplifting, engaging, and developing the skills of their employees. Mentorship can be used to facilitate employee connections and incite feelings of collaboration across the organization.
When employees feel valued and are given opportunities for learning and advancement through tools like mentorship, they are naturally more inclined to stay with an employer. Fostering these relationships that encourage opportunities for growth and development can diversify workforces at all levels, create an engaged and collaborative environment, and enhance loyalty amongst employees while promoting a culture of progress.
Mentorship can be a powerful tool to optimize a multi-generational workforce, facilitate career pivots, build and strengthen communities, and engage and ignite leadership in organizations. Mentorship can mutually support the goals of leaders while simultaneously inspiring confidence, engagement, passion, and connections amongst the workforce. The versatility of mentorship will continue to cement its importance as a tool across the globe for leaders and employees alike in order to continue navigating the changing world of work.