The former Managing Director in Citibank’s Corporate and Investment Bank shares his experiences building the company’s EMEA alumni program.Read more
The Strategic Advantage of Retirees as Mentors
Building a functional mentor program can bridge the gap when keeping talent engaged in their roles - if employers are willing to think outside the box.
Employees in the current talent landscape hold a lot of leverage when it comes to employment, putting employers on notice. It’s not about simply getting them through the doors however: employers must be strategic and forward thinking if they want to keep their top talent— especially their Millennial employees. Building a functional mentor program has the ability to bridge the gap in terms of keeping fresh talent engaged in their roles. A successful mentorship program can be achieved - if employers are willing to think outside the box. Instead of looking at your current senior leaders, it’s time to think about utilizing retirees as mentors for your newer talent.
The Strategic Advantage of Retiree Mentors
Retirees of organizations offer a great number of advantages when it comes to mentoring:
- Trust factor: Retiree mentors are just that – retired. They have no vested interest in advancing their careers so mentees can freely come to them for much-needed advice and guidance. When mentors are still in the organization, it can be difficult to form an authentic relationship because mentees have no way of knowing if their interests are being well guarded. Retiree mentors take away that element, allowing them to build a relationship with their mentees.
- No time restraints: Mentors that are still in the workforce have their own workloads and deadlines to adhere to. Even the best-intentioned mentor can mentally check out on their mentor responsibilities if their workload is heavy. Retirees, on the other hand, are less likely to have their time constrained, giving them the opportunity to connect and build a consistent relationship with their mentees.
- No Competition: Hiring top talent means ambitious new hires looking to make positive gains within your organization. When a mentor is a colleague, they may feel threatened by the growth or pace of newer employees, which is counterintuitive to creating a successful mentor program. When companies use retired employees, they bypass the competition aspect, allowing mentors to help shape a new hire’s potential. In this light, they can help set them up for success without fear of their place within the organization.
- Inside Knowledge: No company is perfect, so who better to voice opinions to than a mentor who has ‘been there, done that’? Retirees understand the landscape of your company. They know what works well, and what needs improvement, making them a prime soundboard for mentees to communicate with. More to the point, retirees possess a wealth of knowledge when it comes to navigating the workforce. They’ll know how to show empathy to a mentee’s frustration while giving them perspective on how to handle the situation, ultimately working in the favor of the company.
- Increased Retention: Perhaps the best financial reason for using your retirees in your mentor program is the increased retention rates you’ll see within your organization. In a recent Deloitte survey, 68 percent of Millennials that plan on staying with the same organization for 5 or more years were twice as likely as their counterparts to have had a mentor. Retirees can make a significant difference when it comes to employees staying or going.
- Boosts Value Proposition: Contrary to popular belief, not everyone that separates from a company has a bad experience. Providing employees with mentors can bolster an Alumni employee’s outlook on the company making it more likely that they leave favorable remarks about the organization. Brand awareness and reputation are huge as candidates now look at employer reviews before accepting job offers.
Building a Successful Program
Building a mentor program that garners desired results takes careful, intentional planning. In order to retrieve the best ROI on your program, you need to consider these key elements.
- Leadership Buy-in: It starts at the top and support from key stakeholders makes all the difference. Speak to the benefits of the program to articulate the importance of retirees as mentors.
- Structure KPIs: As they say, “fail to plan, plan to fail”– same goes with a mentor program. When designing your program, create milestones and systems to help give direction and structure to the program.
- Designate a Program Leader: Select a senior employee who is passionate about the mentor program to be the lead on the program. This helps give a face to the program and they can synthesize the feedback and facilitate any changes necessary for the program.
- Design a Mentor/Mentee Match Formula: Having a mentor is great, but having a poorly matched mentor can do more harm than good. When matching mentors to mentees, make sure it’s a well-suited fit. Be sure that they come from the same department, for example.
- Tools to Monitor and Measure Progress: Monitoring a mentor program can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. Consider adopting tech to help track and sustain your program.
- Use a Platform to Communicate to all Parties: Communication is at the heart of every successful venture and mentor programs are no different. Creating and utilizing an online platform to communicate to both mentors and mentees goes a long way. In addition, you can use that platform to provide assets and helpful information.
Building a strong workforce
Mentors have so many benefits and retirees hold a unique advantage. They offer a wealth of resources and experience to newer employees without the hassle of competition. Retention and engagement go up when Millennials benefit from mentors. If building a mentor program sounds appealing to you, but you’re not sure of where to start, using an Alumni Management Platform can make all of the difference. At the end of the day, mentors help build a strong workforce, making your organization more productive, ultimately improving your bottom line.