Launching a successful mentoring program starts with getting employees excited about participating.
However, getting employees to register for your company's program can be difficult. For some, it's downright frustrating. Our downloadable guide to mentorship program best practices finds the inability to create early excitement in the workplace as a leading cause of low signups for mentoring programs.
But don’t throw up your hands. With a few small changes, you can successfully generate excitement for your mentoring program. If you follow the below 12 tips, you’ll have employees banging down your virtual doors to join your program.
Before we dive in, are you still planning your mentorship program? If you're still working on getting leadership buy-in check out our template for building a mentorship program proposal. In it you'll find helpful tips and resources for getting the budget you need to launch a mentorship program.
Why do we need to promote our mentoring program?
An effective mentoring program can lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction, retention and engagement. Despite the benefits, many companies start mentoring programs with good intentions, but never make it past the pilot program:
- The program started with a small group of employees;
- The first few meetings between pairs took place, but slowly dwindled overtime;
- Employees got busy and they stopped prioritizing their mentoring sessions;
- By the end of the pilot program, employees felt disenfranchised and program managers felt the program missed out on its full potential.
Many mentoring programs’ success can be traced back to how they launched. Without a strong start—getting all employees’ buy-in—it can be hard to keep up enthusiasm.
Here are two false-beliefs we find need to be broken for first time mentorship programs managers:
Ditch the notion that once you build it, they will come.
It isn’t enough to just open registration, send out an email asking employees to join, and sitting back while employees rush to join. Much of the time, successful programs will send out an announcement of an upcoming mentorship program. This primes employees to start thinking about who they could have as a mentor.
Additionally, frequent communication is necessary. This leads to the second false-belief we need to break.
Mentorship program admins from The United Nations and The Forum unpack how to run world-class mentoring programs. Watch the full panel discussion.
People are busy so they will need to be reminded to join.
Your workers are likely busy with their current responsibilities. They need to be reminded of mentorship’s benefits and what they stand to gain from participating. Encourage them to want to make mentorship a priority. If not, they’ll forget to sign up.
In our best practices white paper (mentioned above) we highlight that program managers should adopt an omnichannel approach to marketing. Consider the Marketing Rule of Seven:
"...the idea that someone needs to hear or see your message at least seven times before they buy from you." You can't expect significant success by simply utilizing one communication channel.
Now that we’ve dropped some limiting beliefs, lets get into the meat of the article. Here are 12 tips to meaningfully improve your registration rates for your program.
12 Easy-to-Follow Strategies to Promote Your Mentoring Program
Kent State University outlines some positive outcomes of an effective mentoring program. The mentee gets to understand their mentor’s experiences and gains constructive feedback on their tasks or skills. The article says that not only does the student gain, but the teacher has plenty to profit from active participation.
More mentoring programs will emerge as companies devise different strategies to offer workers value. The 2022 L&D Global Sentiment Survey reveals that mentoring currently occupies number 4 on a list of strategies that companies’ L&D teams use.
If you have an existing mentoring program or desire to begin one, here are 12 best practices to dramatically increase signups.
1. Craft a compelling announcement email
This becomes necessary after your company has concluded the program's arrangements. At this point, getting word to the employees is paramount. Announcement emails are crucial to your promotion strategy. Hence, your communications team has to get this email right by including the appropriate details and a clear tone.
A weak announcement email lowers the organization's chances of attracting employees to act as mentors and mentees. Indeed shares four tips on how to write an effective announcement email. Below are the steps:
- Start with an introduction
- Explain relevance to the readers
- Write a call to action
- Provide additional details such as signup information about the mentorship program.
Use persuasive language while explaining the program relevance and ensure that you exhaust the known benefits of a mentoring program.
2. Leverage influence: get leaders to promote the program
Influencers can play a key role in promoting mentoring programs. Sharing their experiences and insights—will help raise awareness of the benefits of mentoring and encouragement.
Such individuals are thought leaders with a wealth of experience in their chosen field. Getting those people to join your company’s mentoring program will send the right signal. Identify these people and use them to attract mentors and mentees to your program.
3. Remind managers to encourage participation
Managers play a critical role in promoting mentoring within their teams. They need to be aware of the benefits of mentoring and should encourage their team members to participate.
If managers believe that they can increase their team's performance (which it will) by getting them to join a mentoring program, they’ll be likely to recommend it.
4. Emphasize the benefits of mentorship
Business Wire reports that 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationships. Mentors and mentees stand a chance to gain many things that you must describe in your publicity drives.
Expect a huge signup record when employees know what they can gain by joining your program.
As a mentor, one can:
- Get validation for their leadership capabilities
- Enjoy recognition as an advisor and a grower of talent
As a mentee, one can:
- Improve their skills and possibly acquire more
- Understand the workplace culture and settle into their role quicker
5. Shine a spotlight on employee success stories
When a salesperson knocks on your door and attempts to sell you a new television, it isn't because yours suddenly developed a fault. It's because he's prepared to tell stories of how his product supersedes yours. Success stories convince your employees to join the company mentoring program because they too want to be a success story.
When employees hear about someone a mentor has helped, it can be inspiring. It also helps to show the value of mentoring and how it can make a difference in people's lives. If employees have had mentors, interview them and create mini-articles, case studies, or videos to promote registration. This may take more work, but real stories are compelling.
6. Leverage every platform or medium
As the saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat. The same can be said of promoting your mentoring program. To truly leverage every platform, get creative and think outside the box. By utilizing a diverse range of platforms, you'll be able to reach a wide audience and make a real impact.
Promote it at Town halls, standups, 1-on-1 meetings, company emails, social media and building bulletin boards or posters.
Use all available means to get people to remember to sign up. You can also use these platforms to share your own mentoring experiences and expertise.
7. Organize a launch event
By hosting an event, you create a buzz with the company and the employees that will inspire and encourage signups. The launch event should include a presentation on the benefits of mentoring and information on how the program will work. This ensures that employees understand the program's value and are more likely to participate.
Invite mentors and mentees to talk about their experience with mentorship, why they're excited to join a new mentoring program and what they hope to gain from the experience.
8. Host information sessions for employees to get their questions answered
Think of this as the average town hall meeting where citizens deliberate with the town council on vital issues. In this case, employees gather and get answers to questions about the program. Ensure that you prepare a list of possible questions and answers to work with.
9. Time your launch right
After designing the mentoring program according to the company's needs and values, launching it is the next step. You must choose a perfect time to introduce the program officially.
A mentoring handbook, The Ripple Effect, warns that rushing the program launch will have an unfavourable result. You can inaugurate the project during certain periods like a new year, a new quarter, or the end of a performance review season.
10. Highlight available mentors
This can be a good selling point for employees to signup for a mentoring program.
First, it can help attract new employees to the company. If they know that they could have access to high-profile leaders as mentors, they may be more likely to join the company.
Second, it can help existing employees feel more engaged with the company. When they see that people are available to mentor them, they may be more motivated to stay with the company and develop their careers.
In our best practices for mentorship programs report we highlight “the biggest mistake administrators can make is not putting enough time and effort into recruiting mentors.” Getting important persons to serve as mentors will open the hearts of your employees.
11. Include mentoring during onboarding
Enrolling new employees in a mentorship program will ensure that everyone has at least some exposure to the program and will make it easier to get buy-in from senior management. Additionally, making the program mandatory for all new hires will provide consistent knowledge and understanding among new employees.
12. Provide incentives for employees who participate in the program
These could include gift cards, extra vacation days, or cash bonuses. However, it is essential to consider the needs and preferences of your workforce when selecting incentives, as not all employees will be motivated by the same thing.
For example, some employees may value extra time off more than a monetary bonus, while others may appreciate a gift card that can be used for personal purchases.
Building a successful mentorship program—after launch
The CEO of BAYADA Home Health Care, David Baiada, once said: "When each employee is sharing examples and coaching each other on our company values, it creates a sense of connectedness to the work and each other."
Mentorship is an asset every organization should leverage. Although designing and initiating a mentorship program is exciting, what plans have you made regarding its day-to-day running?
Together Software provides companies with relevant resources to engage the participants. Program coordinators can conduct virtual check-ins that maintain the participants' high confidence levels. It also allows them to access meeting agendas, reports, surveys, tools, etc. Join companies like Kellogg's, Heineken, and Discovery Channel in launching successful mentoring programs on our platform.