Although people learn a great deal of the information they need to work effectively in their jobs and grow in their careers in school, much of leadership education involves practical, on-the-job learning. One means to accelerate this learning and development is through the use of mentoring programs in the workplace. There are numerous advantages to having formal mentoring programs in the workplace. However, why should you, as a finance leader, allocate resources to these programs?

Higher Employee Retention

According to Harvard Business Review, people often leave a job because of these main two reasons — they don't like their boss or they don't believe there's upward mobility or opportunities for growth. Organizations that have mentorship programs deliver interaction between leadership and employees, which enables a feedback loop. Thus, an employee can learn how to manage upward to their boss, or their mentor can help find another role with a different manager that's a better fit. Together, the mentor and mentee can chart a path for growth and promotion. This support and guidance can be powerful.

Leadership and Management Skill Development

According to Forbes, mentorship can provide such a high degree of support, guidance and direction that it can outperform all other paths to career success, including graduate school. Many employees don't actively seek out mentors in their workplace, so having a formal mentor program can circumvent this behavior. Some organizations, however, find formal mentoring programs to be too rigid to fit their culture. Alternatively, they might offer an informal program that provides incentives and support for individuals to seek out mentors through their professional network. Whether formal or informal, mentor programs can help identify future leaders and develop them faster, potentially reaping a faster ROI than more traditional, sequential on-the-job training programs.

Offering mentor programs can be one way to attract candidates looking for career development. After all, career development is important to new candidates. In fact, according to the ADP Research Institute® report, The Evolution of Work 2.0, 27 percent of millennials say a lack of career development is a reason for moving jobs. Career development ranks in the top three factors of job selection for employees in countries like China, India, France, Brazil, Chile and Mexico, according to ADP.

Additional Development Options

One informal mentoring option is to start one or more business resource groups. These are affinity groups within a firm that focus on specific topics, promote networking and connection and support business objectives. These evolved from employee resource groups, which were originally created to promote diversity and inclusion and help employees feel more a part of the firm. You can leverage these by creating cross-functional groups that both pursue a specific business objective such as enhanced cash flow and promote interaction between upper management and ambitious employees.

A topic that repeatedly arises with employees is that they want to feel their work has meaning. According to the ADP Research Institute® report, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace, 89 percent of employees want to work on projects that have a societal impact. By offering community service days or adopting a school, your firm can help employees feel like their work supports their personal goals. By encouraging participation at all levels, your employees can engage in informal networking away from the workplace.

Mentoring programs are meant to develop employees, but also to provide learning and growth opportunities for all involved parties.

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Tags: Growth