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2022 will be the year of mentoring

Will Akerman, Managing Director - Connectr,

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people perform their jobs, with many working remotely. This makes creating a sense of belonging incredibly challenging for employers.

We know that talent who feel a sense of belonging contribute more to the business and remain longer than those who don’t. Yet too many employers are failing to recognise how important it is to both their existing talent and commercial success. So, how big a problem is the looming belonging crisis for UK businesses?

The Problem
Our latest research shows that 16 million office workers don’t currently feel like they belong within their current company, and 72 percent of these individuals are considering leaving their role within the next 12 months. This means that 11.5 million workers are thinking of resigning in 2022.

With 2.7 million job vacancies recorded in the UK in November, the fight for talent is fiercer than ever, making staff retention increasingly important. UK businesses simply cannot afford to lose talented staff as replacing them has never been more time-consuming and expensive.

Even if companies can keep hold of their employees, a lack of belonging will reduce their engagement, leading to an unmotivated and unproductive workforce, and impacting their employer brand significantly. This could be more costly than losing talent.

The Cause
Belonging has always played an important role in creating a happy, motivated, and productive workforce. The pandemic has simply shifted employees’ priorities, with emotional benefits now more valuable to UK workers than ever.

Our research supports this, with 43 percent of office workers believing that feeling valued is more important than financial incentives, like bonus schemes and health insurance. This demonstrates a clear shift in the way employees view the role of work in their lives.

How Can Mentoring Help?
Given these numbers, it is clear that the importance being placed on belonging in the workplace is only set to grow. But how do businesses create an inclusive culture and community where everyone belongs?

There are solutions to be leveraged, such as digital platforms and mentoring schemes, that are proven to be valued by workers and will help employers foster a greater sense of community and belonging amongst their staff.

When conducted with purpose, mentoring is an effective tool for building a sense of connection amongst employees. It is proven to support employee progression, development, and retention. In fact, 97 percent of people with a mentor believe they are valuable. Mentees are also promoted five times more often than those who do not have a mentor.

Digital mentoring is particularly effective, as it can be rolled out at scale, helping to build a sense of inclusion amongst all team members. It is also a valuable tool for remote workers who are unable to benefit from the natural connections fostered in an office environment. Our research shows that almost half of workers who retained a sense of belonging whilst working remotely during the pandemic put this down to online support platforms and mentoring schemes.

Tips for Effective Mentoring
Successful mentoring programmes require clear, achievable goals, that can be worked towards by both mentor and mentee. These goals will help foster a sense of purpose and progression.

Managing expectations when it comes to communication is also key to success. Mentees and mentors must both be clear on the extent of the relationship and how much communication is required each month. Agreeing this early ensures promises are met and boundaries are clear.

Effective partnerships are those that consider several factors when matching candidates. Mentees and suggested mentors should be matched on their similar objectives, experiences and personality. This will ensure the correct matches are made, and rewarding partnerships are formed.

Finally, comprehensive measurement is essential to determine the efficiency of a programme. Businesses must carefully evaluate the outcomes, including the progression and retention of mentees, in order to identify successes and areas for improvement.

The Conclusion
Even though the benefits of mentoring in boosting belonging and improving employee progression and retention are clear, there are a real lack of mentoring opportunities within British businesses. Just 37 percent of UK professionals have a mentor and only 40 percent of businesses have strategies in place to build belonging. This shows a substantial imbalance between the demand for mentoring and the services provided by employers.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Digital mentoring platforms, like Connectr’s, can help businesses develop a sense of belonging amongst candidates and employees, creating a culture where everyone is included.

If rolled out with purpose, mentoring schemes can offer employers a real opportunity to not only retain their employees, but also build happy, productive and inclusive workforces.

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