Mentoring programs can be a big help in retaining employees

The home furnishings industry is facing a major challenge with its workforce: how to hire, retain and advance employees to keep both retailing and manufacturing thriving.

In a recent, in-depth study of the mentoring landscape among U.S. Fortune 500 companies, those with mentoring programs were significantly more resilient against employee quitting trends that reigned in 2021, with a median YOY employee growth of just over 3%. Meanwhile, Fortune 500 companies without mentoring programs had a median decrease of 33% in their number of employees.

As we shift into the new year, leaders in the furniture industry will face their share of new opportunities and challenges, and as the corporate world evolves, an employee’s need for support and guidance has never been in higher demand. One of the most effective ways leaders can develop and support their teams to withstand organizational challenges is by implementing mentorship programs.

Understanding the Power of Mentorship

Experienced mentors bring a vast amount of experience to the table, providing invaluable insights and knowledge they have attained over the years.

A strong mentor can make a profound difference in the lives of their mentee — and in turn, help them build strong teams and drive change on their own. Everyone should feel they have someone in their corner in the workplace, and in tough situations,
having a mentor cheering you on can make a huge difference.

A mentor can also help teach their mentees how to manage work-related anxiety and help build confidence to fight against the fear of failure. Mentors also serve a pivotal role in helping mentees prepare for promotions, guiding them through the steps it will take to advance within the organization, which allows the company to grow by hiring from within.

Creating a Mentorship Framework

When developing your mentoring program, it is important to start by identifying some basic guidelines. To do this, it’s helpful to answer the following questions:

+ Who will be eligible to participate?
+ How will mentees and mentors be matched?
+ How long with the mentor relationship last?
+ How often will mentors communicate with mentees?

Take time to conduct interviews to clarify areas of interest and the commitment level of each participant and evaluate personalities to determine which of your mentor-level employees is the best fit for mentees. Once participants are selected, it’s time to create what your mentors and mentees will do within your mentoring framework.

To do this, it’s important to determine what learning objectives and outcomes you will set for each session and the corresponding activities and exercises that will be used to facilitate learning and interaction. Another key factor when planning your mentoring program is to outline how you will incorporate diversity, inclusion and equity into your mentoring curriculum to strengthen the workplace culture and encourage self-expression in a transparent, welcoming environment.

Overcoming Challenges in Mentorship

Don’t be surprised if you run into challenges with mentoring, especially if you’ve never managed a mentoring program before. For a mentoring relationship to be a success, it requires effort from both parties, but a bit more should come from the mentee. If your mentee is lacking motivation or commitment, it’s time to schedule a candid conversation.

Understanding the underlying cause of the lack of motivation is key to remedying the situation before the relationship goes down a path that is ultimately unproductive. When it comes to providing direction, the proper balance can be tricky for mentors. Providing too much can overwhelm their mentee, while providing too little can leave the mentee to flounder, question themselves and interfere with their progress. Make sure to regularly ask your mentee directly if you are providing the right amount of direction based on their goals and timetable.

Mentoring is a valuable journey filled with possibilities in the new year. Whether your goal is retention, advancement or genuine connection, mentoring creates a safe space for employees to learn, acquire new skills and share their experiences. These types of connections help to build a sense of belonging in the workplace while creating a solid path to opportunity and success for your teams. A successful mentoring program will bring fresh energy to your culture, expand participation and increase overall support within your organization in 2024 — and beyond.

Christena Garduno is chief executive officer of Media Culture, a multichannel media agency.

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