ATD Blog

Mentoring Partnerships: Enhancing Sustained Employee Engagement

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our journey towards developing a mentoring partnership program model began about five years ago when we looked at the four generations in the workplace and examined how this situation affected employee productivity and performance levels. We realized that the intergenerational workforce was a key factor—with differences in communication and work styles—in sustaining employee engagement.

At the 2009 ASTD International Conference & Exposition, we presented “Sustaining Engagement & Succession Planning Through Intergenerational Conversations." This presentation included two exercises: “Who Do You Think I Am?/Who I Am!” and "Intergenerational Communication Skills."

The feedback we received encouraged our ideas and reinforced our assumption that generational relationships were changing. With additional presentations, we learned that people from different generations want to learn from each other. This was the onset of what eventually became the Mentoring Partnerships Model.

Increasingly, Boomers—the largest cohort of employees—are remaining in the workplace beyond the traditional retirement age, as are some Traditionalists. This trend is due to the existing fluid economy and increasing medical insurance costs. Additionally, people are living longer, remaining healthier, and desiring to keep active. The challenge for those who are extending their work years is understanding how to:

  • continue to contribute
  • prevent boredom and burn-out
  • face the reality of reaching your career goals and the top of the career ladder
  • experience something new and demanding
  • interact meaningfully with the new hires coming onboard.

Offering a mentoring partnership program enhances the sustainment of employee engagement and retention for all generations. In The Executive Guide to Integrated Talent Management, authors Kevin Oakes and Pat Galagan list the top 10 reasons people stay with their employer. Those related to involvement in a mentoring partnership include:

  • exciting work and challenge
  • career growth, learning, and development
  • working with great people
  • being recognized, valued, and respected
  • meaningful work and making a difference
  • pride in the organization, its mission, and its product
  • great work environment and culture.

Retention rates decline when employee engagement across the generations is not maintained. The best and most experienced senior employees may consider retirement or a career shift, and future leaders may look for other challenging job possibilities. A mentoring partnership program is an opportunity for talent from all the generations to re-engage with their work, feel a renewal of energy and learning, strengthen identification with the organization’s culture, and build a sense of camaraderie with other staff members.
How would a mentoring partnership program enhance or reinforce employee engagement at your organization, an association’s chapter, or a client’s workplace? We are interested in hearing from you. Please contact us at [email protected].

About the Author

Annabelle Reitman has more than 40 years of experience in career coaching and counseling, specializing in résumé development that targets clients’ individualized professional stories. She also does short-term coaching for people in work transitions, enabling them to successfully continue their career journey. Reitman is an established writer and author in the career and talent management arenas. She is a co-author of ATD's Career Moves (2013) and contributed the Take charge of Your Career: Breaking Into & Advancing in the T&D Profession Chapter to the  ASTD Handbook, 2nd edition (2014). Reitman holds doctorate and master’s degrees in higher education administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.

About the Author

Sylvia Ramirez Benatti brings more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector as a trainer and consultant and university professor in nonprofit management.

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