Unfortunately, seven out of eight employees are not engaged at work. As a result, U.S. companies are hemorrhaging from $450 billion to $550 billion a year in lost productivity. To stop the loss, organizations across the nation are making employee engagement a top business priority. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Ultimately, the difference between companies with highly engaged workforces and those with disengaged employees boils down to this: The former have built cultures aimed at providing employees a humanized experience of inclusion, development, and support that spans the entire employee life cycle.
Although inclusion and support have been on the radar for years, most organizations are tackling them the wrong way. Initiatives such as mandatory diversity trainings and grievance hearings are not only costly and largely ineffective, but may even produce negative results. Meanwhile, efforts to support employees through networks and connections have been lacking across the spectrum, which has left employees feeling isolated and undervalued in the workplace. When companies neglect to humanize their inclusion, development, and support initiatives, employees often feel like another cog in the wheel.
To prevent this from happening, they are turning to mentoring. As companies focus on building an inclusive culture, mentoring delivers the much-needed human touch.
Overlooking Engagement Costs Talent and MoneyWhen companies don’t meet the new standards of a growing, diverse workforce, they risk alienating and losing valued employees. The 2017 Tech Leavers Study found 40 percent of employees who departed companies said their personal experiences of exclusion, unfairness, or mistreatment played a major role in their decision to leave. Even just witnessing unfairness or exclusionary tactics weighed heavily on those employees’ decisions to depart. When organizations don’t take steps to ensure employees feel included, they also miss out on the significant financial, innovative, and collaborative benefits that diverse teams produce.
To hold on to their best people and capture the benefits they deliver, mentoring can be an invaluable ally. As Chronus has observed while partnering with some of the world’s largest organizations to develop impactful mentoring programs, mentoring gives employees a sense of belonging and cultural assimilation. This creates a thriving community of diverse employees with different perspectives and backgrounds.
How Mentoring Humanizes the Employee ExperienceTo humanize the employee experience, companies must build out the elements of inclusion, development, and support that embolden employees to feel like more than just a number. The most effective strategies are those that welcome individual employees, connect them with others, and develop them through all phases of their professional growth.
In collaborating with some of the world’s leading enterprises to create mentoring programs, we’ve seen positive outcomes across the entire employee life cycle:
• career development
• leadership development
• succession planning.
At each of these stages, mentoring humanizes the employee experience by welcoming all employees, facilitating the sharing of knowledge and skills, and providing the ongoing support of networks and connections for personal and professional growth.
Whether it’s starting a buddy program within the onboarding process to better integrate new hires, creating one-to-one mentoring between a senior leader and a high potential employee looking to break into the leadership ranks, or initiating mentoring circles to deal head-on with unconscious bias in the workplace, mentoring provides the opportunity to bring true engagement to the day-to-day interactions of employees in the workforce. When these things align, companies achieve significant business results and competitive advantages in three mission-critical areas.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
Put simply, when employees are happy, customers are happy too. Customer experience and outcomes are often tied to individual employee performance and assessment. For one to be successful, the other must also perform well. Workhuman (formerly Globoforce) found that happy employees are 85 percent more efficient at their work, providing a better experience to customers and end users. McKinsey & Company findings suggest “the employee experience reflects the customer care the organization seeks to create.”
Improving the employee experience helps companies retain top talent in the increasingly competitive labor market where 51 percent of workers are looking for new jobs or watching job openings. Why? Because when employees are highly engaged, they are far less likely to jump ship. Retention not only builds continuity and organizational morale, but also helps companies avoid hefty hiring, onboarding, and training costs.
Optimizing the employee experience by building a humanized culture and reputation for inclusion, development, and support enables organizations to become an “employer of choice” among the most coveted recruits. This is increasingly important as today’s talent pool ushers in the most diverse class of workers yet—the majority of whom are Millennials who value diversity and purpose and will represent more than 75 percent of the workforce population by 2025.
If companies are serious about improving engagement, then it’s time they got serious about mentoring. The organizational and financial ROI of mentoring continually push it into the need-to-have column for companies. Building a mentoring program that humanizes the employee experience at every stage puts a company on the fast track to improving employee engagement, becoming the employer of choice among top talent, and building a pipeline of qualified leaders for future success.