Why Your Remote Workforce Needs a Mentorship Program

Workforce trends are continuing to lean in favor of remote opportunities. A McKinsey survey showed that 58% of respondents were already working from home either part-time or full-time. This number is only expected to grow as companies continue to implement flexible working situations.

The only problem these companies face when transitioning into a remote workforce is dedicating resources to the growth and development of their employees. Your job as a culture leader is to invest in your employees' future, but not being physically close presents its own set of unique challenges.

While it may be easy to assume remote workers will take care of their own development, there are a number of advantages a mentorship program will bring to them and your company.

In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of mentorship programs and provide several examples of how you can implement your own that positively affect your remote workforce.

Employee Engagement

Hybridized remote workforces suffer the most in terms of engagement and collaboration within a company.

Employees that are physically able to make it to the office enjoy the rewards of socializing with their colleagues, attending company functions, and working side by side.

These same employees are also more likely to be engaged with their work because they have a direct connection to the company's culture.

On the other hand, remote workers can often feel isolated from the rest of their team.

In a State of the American Workplace report from Gallup, employees that worked remotely were more likely to miss "important social or collaborative opportunities." These types of opportunities directly affect an employee's overall engagement with the company and well-being.

Through the use of remote mentorship programs, remote workers gain access to support that offer a number of benefits including:

  • Improved communication
  • Improved collaboration
  • Increased engagement
  • Improved sense of well-being
  • Stronger sense of loyalty
  • Continued education
  • Larger networking community

These benefits are two-fold; not only does it improve engagement for current employees, but also provides an attractive perk for prospective ones.

Engagement is the crucial piece that holds the company's culture puzzle together. It's how you can keep employees interested in the business, its mission, and its work.

A mentorship program offers an opportunity to engage with employees on a personal and professional level. It allows for the development of a trusting relationship that can provide guidance, support, and advice when needed most.

Creating this type of environment helps to improve communication and collaboration among employees because they feel more comfortable approaching their mentor with questions or ideas.

This, in turn, increases the overall engagement of your workforce because they are actively involved in company culture and feel a sense of loyalty to the business.

A mentorship program also shows your remote workforce a level of interest in their professional development. The investment can improve employee relations, leading to higher employee retention and a more positive company culture.

Employee Retention

Including a mentorship program leads to higher employee engagement but the effects of higher employee engagement have long-lasting financial benefits as well

The same Gallup report on the American workforce concluded that employees who were engaged in their job positions were "more likely to stay with their organization."

Employees who work longer for companies provide a number of benefits including:

  • Reduced costs of training new employees
  • Increased institutional knowledge
  • Greater productivity
  • Improved company culture
  • Effective brand ambassadors
  • Stronger customer relationships
  • Increased sales

It has been estimated that the cost of replacing an employee within a company can be up to 33% of the employee's annual salary.

The financial benefits of retaining employees cannot be understated. And, because turnover rates are 10 times higher for individuals reaching a one-year mark as opposed to a five-year mark, promoting a mentorship program early is key.

Employees that are able to receive education and knowledge from individuals who have already reached the level of success they personally want have less reason to seek employment elsewhere. Not only does this lead to a stronger workforce, but also a more stable one.

It's important to remember that each employee is an individual. The type of mentorship program you implement should take into consideration the different stages of an employee's career.

For example, a recent college graduate will have different developmental needs than a mid-level manager.

Creating a mentorship program that can be tailored to each individual will provide the most benefits for your remote workforce and your company as a whole, ultimately creating a stronger company culture.

Company Culture

The best way to establish a company's ideas and purpose is by engaging your employees enough to keep them on staff for years, if not decades.

Retention of employees allows for a greater, personal understanding of how your organization works, what it stands for, and how each employee can contribute to its success.

You've learned the relationship between a mentorship program and employee engagement, as well as retention, but knowing exactly how these aspects interact with each other is foundational.

With mentorship opportunities, employees are able to talk with and seek advice from the leaders of your company. Experienced professionals that have embodied your company culture can help newbies understand the unwritten rules of your company.

Too often it's the unsaid qualities of your company that contribute to its unique identity.

A mentorship program provides an opportunity for your organization's core values to be passed down and for new team members to understand the importance of upholding these standards.

This is beneficial for several reasons: first, it allows your employees to feel comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns they may have about their work; second, it gives you an opportunity to get to know your team on a more personal level; and third, it builds trust between you and your employees.

A mentorship program can also help with the development of new skill sets within your workforce. When an employee is able to shadow or work closely with a more experienced colleague, they have the chance to learn new things that can help them in their current role or prepare them for future positions.

This type of learning is invaluable and can help your employees feel like they are constantly growing and developing, which is a key factor in employee engagement and retention.

The connection between remote workers and the rest of your company will show you the importance of building a stronger overall team.

Team Building

As the culture of your company grows, so too will the bonds and connections between your employees.

A mentorship program can help to build a stronger team by fostering relationships between remote employees that might not otherwise have the opportunity to work together.

For example, if you have remote workers in different time zones, a mentorship program can be used to connect these employees and help them get to know each other.

Any individual that has gone through a short period of growth while having others around them almost immediately creates deeper bonds with their peers.

This is why many of your closest friends have come from school, volunteer positions, work, or other organizations.

Mentorship programs allow peer-to-peer learning, which can help to bridge the gap between remote employees.

It also gives them the opportunity to learn more about the company as a whole and how their individual role fits into the bigger picture.

This is important for several reasons:

  1. It helps to create a sense of community within your company
  2. It helps to build trust between employees
  3. It helps to establish common goals

A mentorship program can have a positive impact on your remote workforce, but only if it is done correctly. Make sure when implementing a program that it works with the availability of your remote workforce.

Excluding members will only exacerbate the problems you're already facing with a remote workforce.

Leadership Development

Without an optimistic future, few employees will put in the extra work necessary to help your company succeed.

Part of having an optimistic future is developing leadership from within your ranks. By giving employees the opportunity to develop their skills and learn more about what it takes to be a leader, you're instilling a sense of hope for their future.

You give them a reason to pursue their ambitions and put in the energy required to accomplish big goals for the company.

This is beneficial for several reasons:

  1. It helps to develop a pipeline of leaders for your company
  2. It helps to retain top talent
  3. It helps to create a more engaged workforce
  4. It fosters a sense of ownership in your company
  5. It shows new employees the importance of their work

A mentorship program can help with the development of new skill sets within your workforce, priming them for future promotions. According to SHRMs report on job satisfaction and engagement, only 29% of employees reported being "very satisfied with career advancement opportunities. Another report from Gallup states that 87% of Millennials consider job development important.

When you consider the high turnover rates most companies face and the importance of job development for employees, it's clear that a mentorship program can have a significant impact on your company's success.

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