Rewarding relationships = retention.
Growing the next generation of talented workers and business leaders is always a challenge, now perhaps more so than ever. What has become clear over the past few years is that the millennial generation (those people born between 1984 and 2012) has a markedly different outlook on work than previous generations. Rather than being motivated by the traditional inducements of an increased salary, job stability or management responsibilities, studies show that millennials tend to be motivated by a working culture they feel at home in, increased flexibility in their working life and positive mentoring in order to assist their progress. Despite the value of mentoring being widely recognised as a tool to increase engagement and promote retention in the workplace, initial consideration suggests that effective mentoring, and particularly millennial mentoring, is still a piecemeal employment practice.
Mentor meaning remains confusing
The mentor/mentee relationship is clearly critical to the success of the process, but exactly what form this should take continues to be a matter for debate. Although as a generation millennials aspire towards self-employment and increased freedom to tackle projects in their own way (a recent study by the Intelligence Group (part of the Creative Artist Agency) suggests that nearly three-quarters of millennials want to be their own boss) and nearly nine in ten prefer to work collaboratively rather than competitively), this desire for autonomy doesn’t always translate well into the corporate culture. There is a risk that mentors remain confused regarding what is required of them, potentially not supporting younger workers in the way they would most value.
Investing in staff boosts retention
Those companies who are seeing the most benefits from their millennial mentoring are normally those who have a culture of investing in their staff, embracing ways of working which put people first. Goldman Sachs, for example, took out a front page advert in the Wall Street Journal recently, where they outlined how they were going to do things differently in order to encourage their millennial workforce to stay. The measures mentioned included not only mentoring but also guarantees of regular time off, enhanced opportunities for experience in lateral roles and similar attractive changes. Millennials expect to enjoy a corporate culture that works for them, otherwise, they tend to move elsewhere.
Building mentor tasks into the fabric of the company
It appears that mentoring stands the best chance of being implemented successfully and achieving its outcomes when the mentoring concept is firmly embedded in an organisation from the top down. If mentoring forms part of job specifications, KIs, performance reviews and similar, it assists both mentors and mentees to prioritise their relationship and work together in order to achieve their intended outcomes. Clearly, this type of model requires resources, but ultimately the cost of successful mentoring needs to be balanced against recruitment and training costs should millennial retention continue to be an issue.
My mentor – millennials value relationships
Perhaps more so than any other generation, millennials value workplace relationships and place them at the heart of their decision-making when it comes to a career path. Positive relationships, including mentoring, which help workers to feel valued and that their contribution is of work, can be major influencers in persuading millennials to stay put!
Across the board, the message about the importance of millennial mentoring is certainly getting through to companies in all sectors. The challenges lie in converting this message into positive action which achieves the intended results. Although progress is being made, the complexity of mentoring and the wide variety of styles and outcomes which can occur mean that considerable work is needed to ensure every industry and company is able to take advantage of the benefits which high-grade mentoring can bring.
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© Art of Mentoring 2018
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