Find out why mentoring programs can be effective in STEM related industries and how your organization can benefit from them.

Most of the challenging issues employers are confronting, especially with their technology workers, are driven in part by the speed of technology evolution and adoption, the skyrocketing demand (and salaries) for certain emerging skills, and a growing workforce of millennials who have different expectations than their predecessors. Successfully recruiting and retaining highly skilled technology workers - and helping them grow both professionally and personally might entail introducing or revising programs and tools that might have grown stale – or been discarded altogether.

Mentoring programs can be effective for both transferring technical knowledge and helping new and younger employees develop the “soft skills” they need to increase their value to the organization. This is especially pertinent now and in the next few years as Baby Boomers retire in greater numbers taking a wealth of experience and know-how with them.

The value of mentoring programs, always difficult to quantify, has resulted in improved employee performance and increased productivity. Perhaps the best-known study measuring the ROI of mentoring was that published by Gartner regarding Sun Microsystems. The research assessed the performance of a group of 95 mentor-mentee pairs compared to that of a control group consisting of 1,500 Sun staff members. The study measured improvements in salary, promotion, and retention. Two of the study’s findings are worth highlighting:

• Investments in high performers (who typically make up only about 10% of an organization) didn’t generate the level of returns as it did with lower performers (who they call “B Players”), who generally account for 80% of an organization’s workforce.
• Given an annual investment of around $700 per person for mentor/mentee, they received a 1,000% ROI as measured by job and salary grade improvements.

It goes without saying that the quality of the mentoring program drives such high returns, but for organizations struggling with Baby Boomer retirements, ongoing skills gaps, knowledge transfer, employee retention, recruiting, etc., it might be worthwhile to implement, or revisit, a well-conceived mentoring program.