Nearly 70 percent of companies’ budgets are dedicated to human capital costs, according to Human Capital Management Institute. With so much invested in the total cost of workforce, the single biggest organizational expense, it is not surprising that mid-to-large sized companies invest in coaching and mentoring to enhance their investment in employee development and engagement.
Organizations invest over $1.5 billion annually in engagement improvement, according to Bersin & Associates, which calls engagement an employer’s number one metric.
Yet, we all understand the stark reality that most employees do not feel engaged. Only 30 percent of employees in the U.S. and just 13 percent of employees outside of the U.S. report that they are engaged with their companies, according to a Forbes column by Steve Olenski.
Companies are increasingly turning to coaching and mentoring to address this discrepancy, with virtually every Fortune 500 company reporting that they utilize one or more aspects of mentoring or corporate coaching.
The Importance of Coaching and Mentoring
Roughly 77 percent of companies that have workplace coaching and mentoring programs found them effective in increasing retention rates, according to the “Employee Mentoring Programs Benefits/Risk Assessment and Business Case” white paper from The Millennium Group International. And 95 percent of mentees said their participation in these programs enhanced their motivation.
The success of these traditional mentoring programs has led to the development of reverse mentoring programs, in which more seasoned executives are paired with younger, less-experienced employees, so that the former may learn from the latter. Such programs, which have been adopted by companies such as GE, Cisco, The Hartford and HP, have helped older executives understand how to bridge technology, marketing and strategic management gaps.
Why don’t we do more with our employees?
Coaching and mentoring programs are, by their nature, labor intensive. They require a mentor to assiduously set aside the time to share their expertise and advice – and this commitment is often difficult, especially when coaching more than one person.
Let’s also admit that some people are simply better coaches than others and they will be in greater demand – a demand that will be difficult to satisfy with traditional models of coaching and mentoring.
Enter a new crop of technologies.
The ability to easily set up a Knowledge Network inside organizations is now changing the way expertise is created and shared.
Imagine if your foremost experts could coach and mentor thousands of their colleagues, with no more effort than required for one person. This is now possible.
New technologies allow people to follow experts in their organization and benefit from the information and knowledge being created, consumed and shared by these experts. In turn, the expert mentors can recommend – and even assign – materials back to their group of followers.
Live video-streaming, a technology just starting to enter the enterprise, also has huge potential to transform coaching and mentoring programs. A mentor can now live-stream their advice and thoughts across the globe to thousands of their mentees – from her smartphone. The experience is both personal and scalable. Imagine the impact of your senior leadership doing this for just 15 to 20 minutes a week in your own organization.
Of course, these new virtual coaching and mentoring relationships lack the humanist aspect of traditional models, but they have still proven to be highly effective. It may be the right time to experiment with these new technologies in your organization and let the knowledge flow.