According recent Gallup survey results, one of the main factors that impact whether an employee is happy on the job is his or her relationship with coworkers. One way small businesses can help foster positive relationships between employees is by developing a mentoring program.

A mentor is an individual in the workplace who shares his or her knowledge and expertise to help another employee grow professionally. Informal mentor relationships may occur naturally in your organization. However, formal mentoring programs can be valuable tools for recruiting, retaining, and developing top talent in all positions. Mentoring programs benefit not only the mentees, but also the mentors and the company as a whole.

Benefits for the Mentee

Mentees can achieve the following benefits through a mentoring program:

  • Skill development—Mentors teach mentees the skills and qualities they will need to succeed, along with familiarizing them with the company’s protocol and procedures. This, in turn, can teach mentees how to do their jobs more efficiently.
  • Continual growth—Mentors provide ongoing feedback to their mentees and teach them how to take constructive criticism and apply it to their jobs. This type of feedback can feel less intrusive than regular performance reviews and employees may respond better to it as a result.
  • Networking—Mentoring allows employees to build a professional relationship over a period of time and teaches them about the value of networking.
  • Talent development—By providing mentees with the skills and support they need to succeed, mentees will be more prepared to advance to new positions within the company and to take on leadership roles.

Benefits for the Mentor

Mentoring programs can also reap significant benefits for the mentors themselves, including the following:

  • Self-Worth—It gives mentors the opportunity to help someone else out, which may increase mentors’ self-worth.
  • Reinvigorate Career—It helps mentors re-energize their careers, which may increase their commitment to your company.
  • Leadership Development—It allows mentors to fine-tune their communication and leadership skills, which can be valuable as they continue to grow in their own careers.

Benefits for the Company

In addition, there are significant benefits that can be realized by your company:

  • Productivity—By learning from a mentor, employees have the skills they need to do their jobs effectively, which can increase productivity and reduce the number of errors made on the job. Employees may also feel more confident in their work and spend less time second-guessing themselves. Sun Microsystems conducted a study that looked at data from more than 1,000 of its employees over a five-year period and found that its mentoring program had positively benefited everyone involved. According to the study, 25 percent of employees who participated in the test group had a salary grade change, compared to only 5 percent of employees who did not participate. Also, mentors were promoted six times more often and mentees were promoted five times more often than those not in the program.
  • Retention—Mentoring helps employees feel more engaged in their work and more in control of their careers. Employees will feel like the company cares about them and may be more loyal as a result—in turn, reducing turnover-related costs. Retention rates were also higher-69 percent for mentors and 72 percent for mentees, with a 49 percent retention rate for employees who did not participate in the mentorship program.
  • Recruitment—Advertising a mentoring program can help recruit qualified candidates and establish yourself as an employer of choice within your industry.
  • Company Culture—By encouraging employees to build positive relationships with one another, a sense of cooperation and teamwork will be felt throughout your company.

Mentoring programs at work are an effective way to help people progress further in their chosen careers. When employers support employees and allow them time at work to take on the role as a mentor or a mentee, it increase employee engagement. Engaged employees are more productive, dedicated, and are focused on getting things done because happy people mean business!

If  your are looking to build a mentoring program in your company, check out our Mentoring Program Toolkit. If you have further questions, please feel free to reach out to our People Strategy team at 1-800-748-5102 or