Even if you have the best plan for your workplace mentoring program, you will still need to sell the idea to those in your organization, especially leadership. To do this, you’ll need to explain the benefits of the mentoring program and create a strategy to market and promote the mentorship program to the rest of the organization.
Without a marketing plan for your mentoring program, you can suffer some setbacks such as:
- not having enough participants
- poorly defined boundaries and outcomes
- lack of mentoring connections equals failure to meet program goals
- mentors, mentees and the organization are not able to recognize the plentiful benefits that come with workplace mentoring programs.
However, if you are able to get the organization leadership to support the mentoring program, it will be easier to design a strategy to promote the program internally.
Getting management to buy into mentoring marketing
Mentorship programs often start as a grassroots effort with employees looking for ways to further develop their skills and career prospects. However, a workplace mentorship program can help management and the organization as a whole. These benefits should be shared with leaders at your company so that they can see how a successful mentoring program can create a more productive workplace.
Lower turnover rate. This is one of the key benefits for any mentoring program. Companies invest a lot of money and time into employees through the hiring and onboarding process as well as through skill development and equipment. It can be very costly when an employee leaves. Some researchers have estimated it costs about nearly a year’s salary on average every time an employee needs to be replaced. This means that any effort to halt the loss should be welcome by management. One element of mentoring programs that should be shared with high-ups is how cost-effective they can be when trying to reward employees or entice new hires. Because job seekers see companies with mentoring programs as a great place to build their skills for the long-run, organizations can offer a workplace mentorship program instead of more costly offerings.
Succession planning. With the number of Baby Boomers leaving the workforce increasing, organizations will need to have solid and realistic plans to replace the employees who are retiring. It has been estimated that 10,000 workers born between 1946 and 1964 hit retirement age each day. A workplace mentorship program can help younger employees prepare to take over for staff members who opt to retire. By connecting a skilled mentor with a willing mentee a company can help ensure that the talent of their retiring worker gets passed along. Any knowledge and wisdom learned during their years with the organization can be shared, and kept within the company.
Equal opportunity. With more women and other minorities entering the workforce, a mentorship program can help them develop skills and capabilities to enable them to be more competitive on the job. In some ways, a workplace mentoring program can create a more level playing field among employees.
Getting others to buy into mentoring program
Here are some steps to follow when creating your plan to sell the mentorship program.
- Define the benefits. By defining how the program will benefit the mentor, mentee and the organization as a whole, you’ll be better able to promote the selling-points to each stakeholder. There are distinct benefits for everyone involved. For the mentor, it can be an opportunity to give back to the company or to help a co-worker develop additional career skills. For the mentee, it can be an opportunity to expand their network or to learn more about career opportunities in the organization. For an organization, mentoring programs can help cultivate loyalty in employees and, in turn, lead to less turnover.
- Target advocates. Consider who in the workplace will be interested in the program and can help support and promote it. Are there outstanding experienced mentors who have much to teach that could be advocates to encourage other employees to get involved? Consider any new hires that could benefit from a mentoring relationship. Employees who are new to the organization can learn more from getting to know a mentor than they can from a simple job training. It gives them a wider view of how the organization operates and potential future career growth.
- Set goals. It is important to have a frame of reference so you know whether or not your marketing efforts have been successful. The more specific your goals can be the better off you will be when it comes to analyzing the health of your workplace mentorship program. Goals should be set both for the overall program, such as how many mentor-mentee relationships you would like to create in a specific time frame, as well as for the marketing end of the program. This could be a higher click-through rate for emails or newsletters.
- Utilize all your marketing opportunities. Strategically consider all the promotional avenues open to you with regards to marketing your mentor program. Company emails, newsletters, announcements, internal forums, posters, managerial referrals, organization events or celebrations, etc. Make the most of every opportunity to promote your mentoring program and to encourage employees to participate.
- Stay engaged. Even after the program has a healthy participation rate, you want to keep marketing it. However, you may want to adjust the number of communications with participants so that they are not overwhelmed. A monthly update sent via email or company newsletter is a good way to keep everyone informed. One of the best promotional tools is success stories, which can encourage other employees to get involved.
Whether you are just starting to develop a workplace mentoring program or if you are looking to boost one that has been in place for a while, having a good marketing plan is key to selling mentoring to your business. There are many benefits to having a robust mentoring program in any organization, including those for the participants and the company as a whole. Once a strategy has been designed with goals and desired outcomes, promoting a mentoring program to potential participants will become easier.