A Guide to Adding Workplace and Community Mentoring, The MDC Group

A Guide to Adding Workplace and Community Mentoring

Mentoring can add tremendously to a company’s positive workplace culture. It enhances a team member’s work experience and fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.

An internal program can help acclimate new employees, support their professional development, and improve retention rates. Mentoring as community outreach helps employees learn new skills and feel great about themselves and their company. In addition to supporting employees, community mentoring elevates a company’s public image.

Clients and customers, especially millennials, like to support socially minded organizations. According to an article on Forbes.com, 79% of millennials are loyal to companies that “care about their effect on society.”  According to the same report, Millennials and Gen Z-ers also prefer working for socially conscious companies.

Starting a Workplace Mentoring Program

Everyone has experienced the daunting and confusing first days at a new company. A new hire has the qualifications and skills to do the new job, but there’s many factors at play when adjusting to a new working environment. New employees, especially those just starting in a career, want to fit seamlessly into their new roles and learn how they can excel and advance in their profession.

A mentor can provide the guidance, encouragement, and inspiration they need. By assigning a more experienced team member as a mentor, newbie and veteran both benefit. The new employee instantly has a colleague to aid them in navigating their first months and advise them about progressing within the company. The veteran learns useful mentoring skills and feels empowered and connected to the team. They feel proud of the help they are providing. Mentoring also improves communication and understanding between departments leading to more collaborative work in a business.

To organize an in-house mentoring program, start with a team meeting to discuss how mentoring will help all involved parties. After gathering suggestions and comments, establish goals for the program and outline mentor responsibilities. The next key steps are choosing participants and training the mentors. Lastly, match mentors and mentees.

Program Goals:

Many programs seek to improve the onboarding process and help acclimate new hires to the workplace. You may also want the program to improve performance and boost morale. Another goal may be improving employee leadership skills and grooming future supervisors and managers. In today’s workplace environment, increasing employee satisfaction is often the main consideration.

The Outline:

Once the goals are written, decide how formal or informal the program will be and create an outline. Less formal programs match team members and leave many details to the individuals involved. More formal programs may establish meeting schedules, regular training sessions, and feedback or evaluation systems. Determine how long each mentorship will last. For a new team member mentorship, a year might be appropriate. For mentorship during a specific project, perhaps it lasts until the project finishes.

The Participants:

Participants depend on the program goals.  If mentees are exclusively new hires, you only need to choose appropriate mentors.  Study employee evaluations and conduct interviews to collect the information you need. Consider where potential mentors are on their professional journey and how long they have been with your company. Think about what skills an individual already has or needs to develop when choosing mentors. For programs that are not exclusively for new hires, mentees can be anyone. If you open the program to everyone, decide how to encourage people to apply and participate. If participation is by invitation only, evaluate team members for both need and growth potential. Team members who have expressed a desire to move into management as well as those who have struggled to excel may benefit.


To match mentors and mentees, gather information on professional backgrounds, personal goals, work and leadership skills and weaknesses. Match a mentee looking to learn certain skills, with mentors who can teach them, for example. If possible, consider giving mentees a choice of a couple of different mentors.


Before beginning your program, provide training for the mentors you’ve chosen. There are training materials available in the marketplace, but generally, you should discuss what mentoring is, the program’s goals, and what format you’ve designed. In addition, mentors might demonstrate skills, observe and evaluate mentees, and be available for consultation and encouragement when needed.

Mentoring in the Community

Team members who volunteer in the community learn leadership and interpersonal skills and have more balanced, fulfilled lives. One volunteer activity is mentoring either for children or adults looking for career and life skills help. Members can also mentor young professionals in their field. To find the best opportunities, align projects with corporate strengths and values.

At the elementary level, volunteers can mentor students who need tutoring, support, and encouragement. There are opportunities to help junior high and high school students get through daily challenges and prepare for the future. Mentors are especially needed for kids in foster care or single-parent households. Mentoring.org may be a good place to start if you want to find opportunities for your team members. Community mentoring organizations for kids include Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, but local schools and nonprofits may also have established programs.

Other mentoring opportunities include organizations that help people finish their high school education or find meaningful employment. In addition, there are groups specializing in mentoring women who are unemployed or underemployed. A mentor may help with resumes and job applications or teach interview skills.

Mentoring young people in the team member’s profession or industry can be educational and rewarding. It may also provide potential future job applicants for the company. Connecting with local college and trade schools and mentoring students is a win-win-win for a company, its team members, and students. The company has access to future hires, the team member gains teaching, and leadership skills, and the student benefits from the mentor’s knowledge and experience.

Persuading team members to volunteer can be challenging because it cuts into their personal time. Some companies succeed by granting volunteer time off (VTO) and presenting mentoring as leadership training opportunities. Recognizing team members for their community support activities generates enthusiasm and support as well.

Companies with internal mentoring programs, especially those concentrating on new hires, often improve their retention rates and enhance team collaboration. An article by Trainingmag.com states that retention rates for new hires who are mentored can be 50% higher than those who are not.  Employers who encourage volunteer community mentoring get back more productive and satisfied workers who constantly grow and learn. Organizations that aspire to positive, nurturing work environments, consider mentoring an essential factor in their success.

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