The importance of mentoring to develop and retain staff


The labour shortage being experienced across Australia is placing immense pressure on businesses to retain and attract staff in a tight labour market. Mentoring is an ideal training and development technique to build capacity from within and to attract and retain quality staff in this challenging operating environment.

While mentoring has always been popular, it has now become an important form of employee development as it provides staff with personalised one on one support, guidance, learning, feedback and encouragement – in a highly efficient and cost-effective manner.

Good mentors also help to increase confidence in people and assist them to develop a broader perspective on issues, career challenges, options and opportunities.

Mentoring can also assist to support retention by demonstrating increased investment in people over and above formal training and development programs.

I have outlined the benefits of mentoring below:

Mentors can be sourced within or outside the organisation

Typically mentors are not paid for their services if they are sourced from within the same organisation as the person being mentored or they are approached on an informal basis.

This often means that mentors are giving their time for genuine reasons and part of an organisational program that aligns with specific career advancement opportunities. It also means that the costs of the development are sustainable for both the business and the person being mentored.

Increases confidence and self-worth

There is no doubt that mentoring increases confidence and self-worth. Because mentoring is one on one, it enables the mentor to focus on the needs of the person being mentored and to support them in their individual growth journey. Research shows that people who are mentored are much more likely to reach their career goals and experience a greater sense of job satisfaction. As we know, people who enjoy coming to work tend to perform well and stick around.

Encourages creative thinking

Mentors help people to look at things from a range of different angles and perspectives.

This opens people up to broader and more lateral thinking including different ways of problem solving.

It also helps to open people up to giving and receiving feedback. Feedback processes in the workplace can be difficult at times however mentoring enables people to receive open, honest and real feedback in a non- threatening way.

Helps to address skill gaps

Personal and professional development requires a 360 degrees approach in the workplace. Mentors are ideally placed to deliver independent advice and provide an outsider’s view on where a person may benefit from development.

Through the mentoring process, mentors can help people to identify areas of potential development and also work through an understanding of their capabilities which helps to identify skill gaps and clarify further areas for development.