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By Janneke Roelofs, Senior International HR Auditor, Top Employers Institute
By Janneke Roelofs, Senior International HR Auditor, Top Employers Institute

Measuring the impact of mentoring during workplace disruption

Each year, more than 1 600 Top Employers across 119 countries/regions complete the extensive Top Employers Institute HR Best Practices Survey, which provides a wealth of information for our data analysts to collate for benchmarking trends in HR year on year. One of the trends we are seeing is that Top Employers are increasingly taking a more formalised approach to mentoring.

Formal mentoring programmes allow organisations to create and nurture relationships by matching experienced managers with promising talents to meet specific individual development objectives.

Pairing employees with a mentor who is skilled in and capable of guiding employees creates a safe place for employees to learn, which in the current times of COVID-19 is ever more necessary.

But how do you create a safe environment for mentoring if the success of mentoring is based on the “human” connection between the mentor and the mentee? Mentoring must feel personal, relatable and connected. Pairing an employee with the right mentor is the most challenging aspect of mentoring, and the one.

So, if you are offering a mentoring programme, is it still appropriate or even possible during this pandemic? Although the virus has made it impossible for many organisations to continue face-to-face mentoring in the foreseeable future, it does not mean you cannot begin or maintain an online mentoring relationship. A mentoring programme can remain relevant and assist in keeping your employees connected, as well as be a means to show that the organisation cares for its people. 

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Mentoring and talent development

Mentoring should be included as part of the broader talent development strategy. It needs to be tailored to the specific needs and objectives of your organisation. But it should not forget to consider the individual employee and where there are in their personal and professional journey.

It could be that the current situation changes the focus of mentoring for your organisation. Without the Covid-19 situation, mentoring would liekly focus in most on career development, but now other functions might come into place which might relate more to emotional and well-being support.  

Therefore, it is a relevant for HR when evaluating and measuring their mentoring programme, to consider if the programme still fits in the context of the business needs. Relevant questions to ask yourself are “why does this initiative exist?” and “does this initiative still support our needs?”.

The importance of the right metrics 

Many organisations think they are measuring and tracking what is needed to determine the success of their mentoring programmes. However, this often is not the case. Most organisations focus their measurements on  traditional metrics, which are related to tracking of the programme and can include:

  • The number of employees participating in your programme, either as mentor or mentee.
  • The participation rate in the different initiatives: how many mentoring takes place in person, in groups or virtual for example.
  • When and how often do mentor’s and mentee’s meet?
  • What is the satisfaction rate of both mentor and mentee?

Although those metrics are important, they do not fully assess the effectiveness of a mentor programme, becausde they lack metrics related to determining the quality of the outcomes, such as:

  • What percentage of employees in the programme is from diverse groups?
  • What is the effect of mentoring on promotion rates?
  • Do employees in the mentoring programme have access to more opportunities within the organisation?
  • Does mentoring have an impact on employee engagement results (e.g. job satisfaction or employee wellbeing)?

Having a strong measurement strategy can be used to increase the success of mentoring initiatives, especially, if you can benchmark them before, during and after disruptive situations like the pandemic. utcomes.

Metrics can – and should – be gathered from a variety of sources (including employee pulse surveys, mood-barometers, interviews, and focus groups) and this will help provide a more accurate indication as to whether a programme has met success, or may require adjustments.

Mentoring via online meetings can still have an equivalent outcome to in-person mentoring, but your mentor and mentee may need some support in using technology to facilicate a meaningful conversation, which could include  guidelines to create a new rhythm and find the best medium for meeting online.

We see examples with our Top Employers that continue mentoring by using online video tools, such as Skype or Microsoft Teams. Other Top Employers extended their mentoring to all employees by offering near-peer mentoring through social media platforms.

If you adjust your mentoring programmes or add additional initiatives to support your employees within the current pandemic situation, it remains relevant to measure the effects of those additional activities. As we are still adapting in the world of work to the virtual environment, it is important to understand what works and what does not work within our organisation when it comes to mentoring.