mentoring

21 Mentoring Trends for L&D Leaders to Follow in 2023 and Beyond

Explore the latest mentoring trends shaping the future of work in 2023 and beyond. Discover innovative strategies and inclusive practices for mentorship

Matthew Reeves

CEO of Together

Published on 

October 23, 2023

Updated on 

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In a world where the majority of employees, according to Gallup’s research, are simply “filling seats,” it's alarming to note that global engagement levels have been wavering, revealing a stark contrast between average organizations and the best in class.

The typical workplace is struggling – there’s one engaged employee for every disengaged one. But Gallup's Exceptional Workplace Award winners have achieved an impressive 18 engaged employees for every disengaged one. 

This disparity speaks volumes about the challenges lurking in modern workplaces: employees who lack motivation, managers yearning for the right tools, and the omnipresent issue of “quiet quitting” – just meeting the minimum expectations of the role. 

Amidst the challenges of disengaged employees and managers yearning for the right tools, the age-old practice of mentorship might just be the solution we need.

By delving into the top 21 mentoring trends of 2023 and beyond, we will reveal how modern mentoring trends can transform these workplace challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation.

The current state of mentoring: Challenges and limitations

Mentoring has historically acted as a bridge between seasoned professionals and newcomers. This system of guidance and support has been a cornerstone for people development and organizational growth. Here are some of the traditional and newer forms of mentoring in the workplace and their significance:

  • One-on-one mentoring: This classic form has a senior employee paired with a junior employee. The personal nature of this relationship ensures targeted growth for the mentee, as the mentor tailors advice and guidance based on direct observation and interaction.
  • Group mentoring: In this setting, a single experienced mentor may guide a cohort of newcomers. This is especially prevalent in induction programs or when introducing new methodologies to a team. The advantage here is the camaraderie and collective learning it fosters, allowing mentees to learn from both their mentor and their peers.
  • Reverse mentoring: A relatively newer concept, this sees younger employees mentoring senior staff, especially in areas like digital technology, modern market trends, or emerging workplace practices. It emphasizes the idea that expertise isn't just a factor of age or traditional experience.
  • Departmental cross-mentoring: This style involves employees from different departments mentoring each other. It aims to provide a broader understanding of the organization and promotes inter-departmental collaboration.

Challenges and limitations of traditional workplace mentoring

  • Time commitment: Personalized mentoring, especially one-on-one, demands significant time from the mentor. In a fast-paced corporate environment, this can sometimes be a challenge.
  • Compatibility issues: Not every mentor-mentee pairing will have the right chemistry. An unsuccessful match can lead to a lack of progress and even cause frustration.
  • Hierarchical barriers: Traditional workplace structures can sometimes inhibit open communication, especially if the mentor is significantly senior.
  • Scope of knowledge: Especially in group mentoring, there's a risk of having a narrow focus, where the mentor might not cater to the diverse needs of all mentees.
  • Resistance to new methods: Especially with reverse mentoring, there can be resistance from established professionals adjusting to being guided by younger employees.
eBook Not Sure Where To Start? Pick The Best Mentorship Model For Your Organization

Mentorship in 2023: What has changed and why

The landscape of mentorship is becoming more diverse, flexible, and accessible. This is good news for both mentors and mentees, as it means there are more opportunities for people to connect and learn from each other.

And now more than ever, mentorship can be influential in boosting employee morale and nurturing skillsets that will impact the future of work and bring out the most of every team member. 

The context of the past few years has brought in a whirlwind of change in mentoring practices that will be relevant for 2023 and beyond. From new technologies to the advent and adoption of AI and the ever-shifting debate on hybrid versus onsite work – there are a lot of emerging trends to consider while crafting a talent development strategy for your team. 

The following factors are driving changes in mentorship:

  • The rise of remote work. Remote work has made it easier for people to connect with mentors from all over the world. This has led to a more diverse pool of mentors and mentees, and it has also made it easier for people to find mentors who align with their specific needs and goals. And Charter’s research has found that mentoring relationships - whether they occur in person, remotely or a mix of the two - are equally successful.
  • The growth of the gig economy. The gig economy is creating new opportunities for people to work, but it can also be challenging to navigate. Mentorship can help people in the gig economy develop the skills they need to be successful, such as networking, self-marketing, and time management.
  • The changing nature of work. The skills and knowledge that are needed to be successful in the workplace are constantly changing. Mentorship can help people stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in their field.

HR.com’s recent 2023 report The State of Coaching and Mentoring outlines that mentoring is on a steady rise among organizations, with 66% of respondents agreeing on the importance of mentoring.

And when done right, mentoring can become your L&D strategy’s strongest pillar in 2023 and beyond. Mentoring isn’t just a powerful tool for attracting and retaining talent. It also helps employees feel more connected to their work and reduce stress. 

It’s a particularly excellent way to foster a culture of learning and navigating career hardships – much like the ones that have presented themselves in this economic downturn.

21 mentoring trends for 2023 and beyond

In 2023, mentoring has taken on new and exciting forms, focusing on being more open, adaptable, and effective. Let's explore the top 20 mentoring trends that combine tried-and-true methods with fresh, innovative ideas.

We’re going to explore emerging mentoring trends across various categories: 

  • Technology
  • Career development
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
  • Types of mentorship programs gaining traction

1. Virtual mentoring is becoming more popular

While many global organizations have been using virtual mentoring to connect dispersed teams with essential support, the advent of remote work is transforming virtual mentoring into a mainstay as hybrid workspaces continue to be the norm.

Virtual mentoring is an excellent mode of mentorship for organizations of all sizes - not simply global enterprises. 

There are numerous advantages, such as:

  • Savings on costs, as travel expenses are minimized or eliminated.
  • Greater convenience for both mentor and mentee in terms of time zones and connecting.
  • Enhanced productivity by cutting down commute times to in-person meetings.
  • The ability to easily attract a broader range of mentors and mentees to the online platform.
  • The convenience of asynchronous communication that doesn't have to be in real-time.

2. AI-powered mentoring tools are making the matching process easier

AI is fast becoming a game-changer across industries and mentoring is no different. The best mentoring software lean on AI to support various aspects of the mentoring process.

Gautham Bondada, Solutions Sales Engineer at Pattern, and a Top Problem Solving Voice on LinkedIn, is an advocate of the growing AI trend.

‘‘AI has the ability to crunch large data on variables such as skill sets, interests, and objectives. This solves one of the primary issues of mentoring, i.e. mapping the right mentors to mentees. This can result in fruitful mentoring relationships, and enable accelerated growth & learning. It can further leverage data to provide actionable insights. Monitoring mentee's progress, providing useful information on the go, or even sending a quick nudge becomes easy through automation. Further, it can be of great use to subtly remind about the areas of improvement or even celebrate small wins.’’

P.S. Gautham's favorite mentoring tools include Together. With the platform’s customizable pairing algorithm, it’s easy to match mentees with the right mentor — no matter the scale.

3. Mentees prefer personalized mentoring experiences 

Personalized mentoring experiences are those that are tailored to the specific needs and goals of the mentee. This can involve focusing on a particular skill or area of development, or simply providing general support and guidance. Personalized mentoring experiences can be one-on-one, group-based, or peer-to-peer. 

In personalized mentorship sessions, the employee’s strengths and weaknesses are considered, and there’s plenty of opportunity to approach both with their mentor. This format is more conducive for the mentee to receive real-time feedback, which is not always the case with pre-recorded or group sessions.

Here are various ways mentoring can be tailored:

  • Mentors can assist mentees in honing interview skills, refining a presentation, or learning a new ability.
  • They can give constructive feedback on a task or guide in plotting a career path.
  • Mentors can introduce mentees to professionals in their industry or pinpoint fresh prospects.
  • Sometimes, just lending an ear or offering advice can be invaluable for a mentee facing challenges.

4. Peer mentoring is recognized as an effective L&D strategy  

Peer mentoring is a fantastic tool for fostering employee engagement and building a culture of learning. But what happens when you’re paired with a peer from a different industry? 

This innovative trend emphasizes mutual growth over hierarchical guidance, advocating that valuable insights can come from peers across industries.

Marketing matchmaker for the animal health and nutrition indusry, Marcelo Lang’s experience with Ambition in Motion's program epitomizes this. 

Paired with a peer from a different sector, their bond wasn't based on professional expertise but a shared "career orientation." As Lang pointed out, "We both want to improve, become better at what we do, while at the same time striving to reach the elusive work-life balance."

From their initial cautious exchanges, the relationship blossomed by their second meeting. Lang observed, "The concept of peer mentorship started materializing... he helped me organize my thoughts and vague intentions and formulate a concrete plan of action to achieve my goals."

This innovative approach suggests that mentorship's future might pivot from seeking guidance from above to finding wisdom beside us.

5. There's a spotlight on the impact of mentoring programs

Despite the known significance of coaching and mentoring, under a third of respondents in the HR.com survey believe these practices are truly effective within their organizations. 

This underscores a pressing trend: the increasing importance for companies to actively track and assess the efficacy of their mentoring programs, ensuring they not only exist but truly make a difference.

Together’s mentorship ROI calculator is a good place to start — you can assess how mentoring boosts productivity and employee retention, while highlighting your savings in turnover costs. 

The Together platform provides insights on registrations, engagement levels, achieved goals, session reviews, pairing relevancy, and more. You can effortlessly craft tailored reports within our platform or download the data.

6. Skills-based mentoring is a key method of employee development

Skills-focused mentoring is emerging as a pivotal strategy for enhancing employee retention and equipping individuals for upcoming roles or tasks. New entrants to the workforce prioritize developmental opportunities and expect their organizations to lay out clear career trajectories. They expect companies to actively offer feedback and roadmaps for advancement.

By emphasizing skills in mentorship, employees are empowered to steer their own progress and excel in their roles. This approach not only boosts engagement but also promotes retention by connecting employees with adept leaders who leave a lasting positive impact.

7. Soft skills development is an essential component in career mentoring

Hard skills, while invaluable, are just one part of the equation. Soft skills, encompassing effective communication, team collaboration, and adept problem-solving, have emerged as equally vital. These skills are central to fostering a harmonious work environment, spurring innovation, and ensuring the successful execution of projects.

Recognizing this shift, mentoring programs are expanding their focus beyond mere technical expertise. 

Mentors, drawing from their rich professional experiences, are guiding mentees in honing these critical interpersonal skills. Through practical advice, real-world examples, and hands-on exercises, they're shaping professionals who are not only technically competent but also adept at navigating the intricate dynamics of today's professional settings.

8. Career resilience is a priority in an AI-driven era 

The rise of AI in the workplace has ushered in a transformative era, revolutionizing how businesses operate and making various tasks more efficient. However, this rapid technological advancement has also sparked anxiety among many employees. 

Concerns range from the fear of job displacement due to automation to the challenges of upskilling and integrating with AI-driven systems.

Mentoring programs are becoming increasingly vital in this context. They provide a platform for individuals to understand and adapt to the role of AI in their profession. 

Mentors can guide mentees in identifying the complementary skills that AI cannot replicate—such as creativity, emotional intelligence, and complex problem-solving. By focusing on these human-centric abilities and learning to collaborate with AI, professionals can position themselves as indispensable assets, alleviating anxieties and using emerging technologies to feel empowered instead.

9. Mentoring is used as a critical tool for leadership development

Gartner’s research found that for 60% of hybrid employees, their manager is the primary connection to the organization’s culture. 

But these managers grapple with aligning employee desires for purpose, flexibility, and career progression with performance demands from upper management. 

In 2023 and beyond, forward-thinking companies will offer enhanced training and support to bridge this growing managerial skill disparity, all the while refining manager responsibilities and, if needed, redefining their roles.

Leadership mentorship programs are among the most powerful tools to build exceptional leadership skills in newly promoted staff and existing executives. 1:1 sessions and group mentoring sessions between leaders will pave the way for identifying roadblocks, learning from other’s experiences and fostering new-age skills essential to thrive.

10. Mentoring programs are focused on reskilling

With the steady rise in people quitting their jobs for better opportunities, reskilling is fast becoming a critical step to employee retention. 

When companies invest in reskilling mentorship programs, they aren't just training their employees; they are laying a foundation of contemporary, essential skills that give these employees a competitive edge.

By rolling out comprehensive reskilling mentoring initiatives, companies bolster their current workforce and send a powerful message to both existing and prospective employees. It becomes evident that the organization is not only committed to growth and evolution but also fervently backs retention strategies. Such a reputation invariably draws top-tier talent, who are often in search of workplaces that promise both personal and professional advancement.

11. Mentorship is being used to solve DEIB challenges

Gartner’s research indicates that 42% of employees view their organization’s DEI initiatives as divisive. In light of this, HR teams are turning to mentorship as a potent tool to ensure sustained DEIB momentum. Key strategies include:

  • Demographic-based safe spaces: Creating mentor-led zones tailored to specific demographics, ensuring concerns are voiced and addressed.
  • Celebrating allyship: Recognizing DEI allies on internal platforms, setting a positive precedent and motivating others.
  • Providing clear DEI guidance: Through mentorship, offering actionable steps for employees to support DEI goals actively.

By embracing different mentorship models, organizations aim to transform DEI challenges into opportunities for inclusive growth.

12. Organizations are leveraging affinity-based group mentorship 

As companies seek more effective and personalized mentorship avenues, affinity-based group mentorship is emerging as a powerful trend. This method anchors mentorship in shared backgrounds, experiences, and identities, ensuring the nuances of diverse groups are addressed. 

A striking case in point is Amazon. Their mentorship program has grown 750% since its launch, expanding from 18,800 participants in 2016 to nearly 160,000 in recent times. 

A notable success factor? Amazon's partnership with its affinity groups, particularly the Black Employee Network (BEN). By tapping into such focused groups, Amazon ensures targeted support, fostering professional development tailored to the unique experiences and challenges of its diverse workforce.

13. Mentorship for women is a growing priority

Mentors have always been a guiding light for women in the corporate world, offering wisdom and support. Despite their guidance, women still find themselves underrepresented in top leadership, holding just 23% of senior roles in the U.S. 

This is where the role of career investors becomes crucial. These individuals go beyond traditional mentorship for women — they actively champion women, spotlighting their potential and vouching for them in significant ways.

By pairing the consistent support of mentors with the proactive advocacy of career investors, women can navigate the professional landscape more effectively. Companies truly invested in promoting gender equality are ensuring that their female talent has access to these invaluable resources, paving the way for a more inclusive future in leadership.

14. Mentorship for veterans is a key focus area

The business world is recognizing the untapped potential of veterans. With their distinct skill sets and experiences, veterans are a formidable asset to any enterprise. Yet, transitioning from the military to civilian life can pose unique challenges. Enter the rising trend: specialized mentoring for veterans.

Organizations like the Veterans Business Association, American Corporate Partners, StreetShares, and Hivers & Strivers provide tailored mentoring programs, pairing veterans with seasoned business professionals who can help them enhance networking skills, and secure necessary resources. 

Beyond these structured organizations, there's a growing community of individual mentors, accessible via online platforms and professional circles, eager to support veterans. 

15. Mentoring returnees after a career break is a growing concern

Diving back into the professional world after an extended absence can often be an overwhelming experience. 

Individuals face not just changes in technology and workplace culture, but also a need to rebuild their self-confidence. Progressive organizations are taking note, introducing mentorship programs specifically designed for these returning professionals. Think about a return to work program for moms, for instance. 

These tailored mentorship initiatives serve dual purposes — they help refresh and update essential skills while simultaneously providing a platform to reassess and realign with current roles and responsibilities. By offering a guiding hand during this critical transition, organizations not only ease the re-entry process but also fortify a sense of belonging and value among returnees.

16. Organizations are boosting innovation with reverse mentoring

Reverse mentoring, where younger team members guide more seasoned professionals, is fast becoming a cornerstone of innovative thinking within organizations. These younger mentors, shaped by the digital age and modern cultural shifts, bring a plethora of new perspectives and ideas. When experienced professionals embrace insights from their younger counterparts, they tap into fresh ways of problem-solving, often gaining exposure to emerging technologies and novel methodologies.

The very act of engaging in such a mentorship framework underscores a company's commitment to innovation. It sends a clear message: ideas, irrespective of where they originate, are valued. By actively blending the energy and novelty of youth with the wisdom of experience, organizations create a fertile ground where innovation isn't just welcomed but actively cultivated. 

17. Mentoring is helping connect remote workers

Even as Gallup data’s from 2023 shows an uptick in overall U.S. employee engagement to 34%, a shadow looms in the emerging hybrid and remote work culture. 

Remote workers, despite the benefits of flexibility and autonomy, are experiencing a declining connection to their organization's core mission and purpose. This disconnect is starkly evident in exclusively remote employees — only 28% strongly feel tied to their organization's overarching goals, matching a record low from 2011. This distance from the company's heart and purpose can pose challenges to long-term engagement and productivity.

As the disconnect grows, peer mentoring steps up as a solution. With more people working remotely, connecting them through mentoring is key. It offers a chance for remote workers to share experiences, navigate challenges, and stay anchored to the organization's mission. In pairing seasoned remote workers with newcomers, peer mentoring ensures a stronger bond to the company's core values and goals.

18. Group mentoring is paving the way for inclusivity 

Group mentoring has emerged as a pivotal approach to advancing inclusivity within contemporary workplaces. Focused on distinctive groups such as women, minorities, and people with disabilities, it offers support that is meticulously tailored to their unique experiences and challenges.

Beyond personal empowerment, these collective mentoring sessions pave the way for a more inclusive organizational atmosphere. They ensure that diverse voices are championed, mutual understanding is nurtured, and equity becomes a fundamental part of the workplace culture. Through this method, businesses are not just promoting individual growth but actively investing in creating an environment where every member feels valued and recognized.

19. Mentoring can help Gen Z build social skills 

51% of Gen Z employees expressed that their education has not prepared them to enter the workforce. 

Amplified by the pandemic, this cohort, in particular, missed out on traditional in-person work experiences. An insightful piece by HBR underscores a universal decline in social skills over the recent years, impacting individuals across all age groups. With the continuing prevalence of hybrid work models, many grapple with adjusting to the evolved professional social etiquettes of today.

This disconnect and dwindling engagement offer an opportune moment for organizations to intervene. Initiatives like peer-to-peer or group mentoring can bridge this gap. They not only foster essential social skills but also create an environment where employees can connect, collaborate, and understand the nuances of modern workplace dynamics.

➡️ Check out this employer’s guide to Gen Z in the workforce to prepare better.

20. Informal mentorship is helping the modern workforce move away from traditional hierarchies

Gen Z's entrance into the workforce brings a unique set of needs and challenges

They often grapple with imposter syndrome and anxiety, which can deter them from seeking guidance from direct superiors. This stems from a fear of appearing ill-equipped for their roles. 

To address this, there's an emerging trend of fostering informal mentorship relationships. 

Instead of traditional top-down mentoring, Gen Z finds comfort in guidance from colleagues who double as friends, ensuring they feel at ease when discussing uncertainties. The mentor's role isn't determined by their department or seniority but by their ability to provide supportive communication, relevant advice, and a safe environment for growth.

21. External mentorship is recognized as a valued resource

The traditional model of mentorship, rooted within the confines of an organization, is undergoing a transformative shift towards external mentorship. 

The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion’s Mentoring Initiative, sponsored by PwC, underscores the growing recognition of the value of connecting employees with mentors outside their immediate company. Such external mentorship programs offer a fresh perspective, unencumbered by internal biases or pre-existing hierarchies. It enables mentees to discuss challenges, strategies, and ideas candidly, without the apprehensions of internal office dynamics or politics.

Plus, external mentorship becomes especially significant in the era of hybrid work, where building organic, in-person relationships is challenging. When mentors are sourced from outside an organization, they bring along diverse experiences, varied insights, and unbiased feedback, enriching the mentorship experience. 

The future of mentorship: Technology-driven, strategic, and inclusive

Traditional mentoring structures, grounded in hierarchy, often miss the mark in today's diverse workplace landscape. 

To harness the true potential of mentorship, changes are needed:

  • Establish a shared understanding of its purpose and actions.
  • Arm mentors and mentees with the knowledge and tools for fruitful exchanges.
  • Encourage diverse, two-way mentor-mentee relationships.

Enter Together - the mentorship platform that helps define, structure, and implement effective mentorship programs. The platform intelligently pairs mentors with mentees based on skills, interests or goals, automating scheduling and offering resources to ensure both parties derive maximum value from the relationship. Plus, you can also monitor and measure the impact of mentorship initiatives, ensuring alignment with broader objectives.

If the future of mentorship is to be intentional, systematic, and transformative, mentoring platforms like Together are paving the way, ensuring that the 'best kept secrets' of successful organizations become standard practice for all.

Don’t wait for tomorrow to make your mentoring more effective — try Together today!

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