Learning and Development

Why your Learning and Development program needs mentorship

Learning and development focuses on building the skills of employees so they can be more effective within the organization. But what's the best way to go about this? Until now, L&D efforts mostly focused on enrolling employees in courses. Now, however, L&D efforts are leveraging mentorship as a way to aid existing L&D efforts. Here are three reasons why your L&D program should include pairing every employee with a mentor.

Ryan Carruthers

January 21, 2022

One key desire human beings and organizations have in common is the need to be better. Both humans and organizations strive to improve. Both humans and the organizations they create seek growth. Strangely, however, most organizations have hierarchical structures that promote efficiency but don't nurture the human connection.

According to the Middlesex University research project, 74% of 4300 surveyed felt that their full potential at work has not yet been unlocked due to a lack of development opportunities. However, 89% of HR professionals see learning and development as essential for their employees and business. 

There’s a disconnect between the need for learning and development and what’s being delivered.

What's more, managers in companies with less than 100 employees only get 12 minutes of training every six months–and those with 100-500 employees get 6 minutes of training within the same period, according to The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018. In the UK, according to City & Guilds' annual skills index 2021, 30% of employees haven't received any training in half a decade.

Training or Reskilling is necessary for any business that wants to grow and maintain its competitive edge.

A well-structured mentorship program can have a dramatic effect on workplace culture, Learning and Development (L&D), and people's interaction. It goes beyond hierarchy, building relationships, individuals, and organizational value. 

The role of Learning and Development is to close skill gaps

Automation and digitalization are welcome additions to business operations, right? However, they inevitably create a skill gap that companies struggle to narrow. They create skill gaps in roles, departments, and entire organizations. 

The purpose of L&D is to identify the skills and organizational needs, see if employees have those skills, and close the gap if they don't. How can you and your organization stay ahead of the learning curve by closing the skill gap?

Jennifer Petrela, a mentoring expert, connected with our team to discuss inclusive mentoring. During the conversation, Jennifer emphasized that mentorship is a great way to close the skills gap between the skills new graduates enter the workforce with and the skills they need to thrive:


Training or Reskilling is necessary for any business that wants to grow and maintain its competitive edge. A Udemy Skills Gap report shows that 8 out of every ten Americans agree there is a skill gap problem. A third of Americans say they themselves are victims of the gaps created by the constant change in the workplace.

The function of L&D goes beyond monitoring who's completing courses. It's about making employees more productive and effective in the organization. 

Reskilling aims to provide the employees with the resources they need to develop in-demand soft and hard skills to help them perform their roles better. It ensures the development and effectiveness of employees in performing their roles.

In creating an effective reskilling program, take into account what your company needs, the current knowledge of employees, and what they want to learn. Starting with the most pressing needs, you can use data and metrics supplied by HR and management instead of guessing employees' knowledge requirements.

This way, you can focus on critical areas and skills that bring a high Return on Investment (ROI). For instance, you can gather feedback on performance and possible areas of improvement from employees.


Your learning and development program is more than an LMS

L&D programs are more than just applying a Learning Management System (LMS); it's how you stay current with industry changes or update your skillset for new opportunities in today's business world. The right program can help boost employee engagement by providing ample training opportunities tailored to individual needs, providing value at every level of their careers.

Most L&D programs focus on adopting software (like a learning management system) to deliver training courses for employees. HR teams can then report on its success by measuring employee adoption and course completion rates. But the function of L&D goes beyond monitoring who's completing courses. It's about making employees more productive and effective in the organization. 

Read more: Corporate e-Learning: Not a silver bullet for employee development

L&D professionals should consider how employees learn and consider different methods for different people. Leaders need to be creative about helping employees apply what they learn. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, only 12% of employees put their new learning skills into practice at their workplaces. L&D with mentorship will checkmate this and ensure that employees apply what they learned.

The 70-20-10 framework shows that only 10% of learning comes from coursework and independent study. The remaining is direct work experience and collaboration with peers. When looking at employee learning through the 70-20-10 framework, it's clear that LMS's aren't enough. Mentorship programs close the gap on 90% of social learning.

Mentoring programs accelerate learning and development

Gone are the days when L&D simply had to account for the number of people they put through training and "positive reviews." Now more than ever, the output or outcomes are more important than the number of employees that took the course. Getting a substantial budget for L&D would be difficult if the ROI is not measurable like that of the sales or marketing department. The metrics L&D cares about are shown in the image below:

Employee training metrics courtesy of AIHR
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  • Employees are more engaged when mentors and peers hold them accountable to apply what they learn. In this Deloitte survey of millennials, 68% of employees with mentors were more likely to stay with their employees for over five years relative to the remaining 32% without mentors.
  • Training is more satisfying when it's personalized. Having a mentor to answer your questions and guide you in building your career is much more rewarding than completing a course.
  • Employees with mentors are less likely to quit, which leads to savings in turnover costs
  • Employee performance increases with mentoring more so than training. Mentored employees receive promotions five times more often than people who don't.
  • Employees with mentors have access to critical organizational knowledge that will make them more effective in their jobs. The training they receive from a mentor is hyper-relevant to their day-to-day life because they're both within the same context.

How to introduce a mentorship program

There is no better way to secure high retention and low turnover than strategic mentorship. Mentoring has proven to be an effective system for learning and development for mentors and mentees. There are tons of benefits for both organizations and employees.

However, great mentorship programs don't happen overnight; they are built via thorough planning, constant improvement, and sustained commitment to the program. Here are some points on introducing a mentorship program:

Generate Interest

After getting the leadership to buy into your mentoring program idea, actively promote it. Do this by adopting the best practices for your workplace mentorship promotion. The purpose of the mentoring program will determine the type of mentors and mentees you want to attract. It will also guide you through creating a list of people you will promote the program to.

  • 76% of millennials feel L&D opportunities are a must-have aspect of the company's culture
  • Millennials are more focused and concerned about career development than work-life balance (Udemy).
  • 76% of workers believe extra L&D opportunities make an organization attractive and appealing (Axonify).

Email, intranet, mentoring software, posters, word of mouth, and parties are ways you can generate interest and promote your mentorship program. Promotion is a constant, so make it a priority to keep the program growing and bring more people on board.

Enroll mentors

Get leaders on board: If the idea of a mentorship program originated from you, you need to get the company heads to support it. It is a different ball game if the leadership spear-headed the idea. If they didn't, you might need to pitch the idea to them because you will need them later to take up mentorship roles. You can get them on board by putting together a business case.

Convince executives to be mentors: Having executives as mentors in your mentoring program can help you get incredible results. The morale and engagement with employees will be at an all-time high, and everyone will want to grow. Although it can be hard to get busy executives on board, it is not impossible. You can learn more about getting them on board by reading these six ways to convince executives to join your mentoring program and be excited about it.

How to find employees who would be great mentors: Finding great mentors goes beyond those with the most experience in an organization. There are certain qualities a good mentor must possess to inspire growth and foster L&D. You can't pretend to be enthusiastic about mentoring. It requires a sincere commitment to see your mentee achieve their set goals. Here is a guide on the qualities of a good mentor and selecting one.

Pair employees using software

To get the expected results from a mentorship program, you need to get the mentor-mentee pairing right. It can be challenging to get the right matches with dozens or hundreds of employees in a company. There is a lot to thank technology for, including software that makes life easier. You can pair employees using software and say goodbye to spreadsheets and loads of surveys.

How to match mentors: Again, it all comes down to your aim and which employees need mentoring. How do you match employees to mentors? Considering both parties' goals and skills, it will become evident that you need to consider certain parameters. Here is where mentorship software comes in. 

How does matching software work? Software is just what you need to make mentor-mentee pairing effective and scalable. Mentoring software makes workplace mentorship programs easy. You can use it to pair participants, schedule meetings, track relationship progress, and generate reports.

With Together, you can cut down on time you spend pairing people and spend more time focusing on the program strategy. There are different types of mentoring programs on offer which cater to particular audiences. You just need to figure out the one that aligns with your purpose. This article explains how mentor matching software works.


Measure the program's success with Together's reporting features

Every goal you set requires some method to measure its success. Mentoring programs are no exception. You risk getting the program shut down by management if you can't prove it is working. Also, participants and potential participants may lose interest. Therefore, it is essential to have metrics to measure success.   

Now that you have established the need for measuring program success, how will you go about it? Decide on the metrics that need to be tracked from the beginning of the program. It is easy to track progress with 25 participants or less. However, you might not be able to keep up if there are more. Here's where a program manager such as the Together platform comes in, with its measurement and evaluation process. As an HR personnel, a people leader, or a manager, you can leave all the work to Together while you focus on other aspects of your role. 


Conclusion

Learning and development is a crucial function. Without programs to upskill employees, how can organizations expect to remain competitive? However, the way we think about learning and development needs to expand beyond online courses. Mentorship programs are a critical part of employee learning and development. To start a best-in-class mentoring program that is both easy to run and measure, check out Together's mentorship software today.

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Want incredible results from your mentorship program? Then download our comprehensive list of best practices.

We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.