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Win Week 1: How to Create a Mentor Program That Engages New Hires

in Onboarding New Hires

by Talmundo
December 14, 2017

No need to provide unlimited vacation time or go crazy with perks (though your workforce probably wouldn’t mind)—just help your team members cultivate close relationships at the office. Research shows that having a best friend and/or mentor at the office can make employees significantly more engaged and increase retention. Want your new hires to be 50% more satisfied on the job? Then read on!

In fact, Millennials who report planning to stay with their company for at least five years are twice as likely to have a mentor, according to Deloitte. If you don’t already have a new hire mentorship program in place at your organization, this is your wakeup call! Use this guide to create a buddy appointee program that transforms your freshest employees into the next generation of company superstars.

And The Winner Is…

When it comes to choosing the right buddy for your new hires, we’ll tell it like it is: not everyone is mentor material, and picking the wrong person to train your newest talent is sometimes worse than choosing no one at all.

How can HR managers separate the wheat from the chaff? People who make the best mentors tend to be:

  • Subordinates with management potential—mentoring can act as a test drive, enabling you to assess how they handle more responsibility and allowing them to hone their communication and leadership skills
  • Those who have fulfilled the role that the new hire is training for
  • Team members with similar strengths or weaknesses, enabling them to demonstrate how to best leverage or minimize those traits
  • Employees who have internalized your company mission, vision, and values

For next-level partnerships, try to pair up employees who may not necessarily connect on their own. For instance, encourage an intergenerational mentor-mentee relationship between an inexperienced Gen Z team member and a tenured Baby Boomer to create a more cohesive workforce that bridges generational divides.

Drop And Give Me 20 (Minutes): Onboarding Buddy Bootcamp

Deciding who to trust with your fledgling employees is just the first step in creating an effective onboarding program. Next is setting expectations for your buddy appointees so they know what their role entails and how to be successful. Some checklist items for your team of trainers include:

  • Reaching out to new hires before their start date—this can minimize the chances of job abandonment and ensure that they start their new position already engaged
  • Preparing the new employee’s workspace… extra points for decorating their desk or bringing breakfast treats on day one!
  • Casual one-on-one introduction and chat about the buddy program
  • Overview of company culture and what the mission, vision, and values really mean to employees
  • Making the rounds: who’s who (including senior leaders), handshakes, and maybe even a few cringe-free team building activities!
  • Explanation of employee benefits and perks
  • “Scavenger hunt” of important office landmarks
  • Must-dos: synopsis of appropriate office attire, general rules of thumb for working in open office spaces, etc. (go ahead and leverage resources like our brief employee dress guide to make your life easier)

Feel free to create a comprehensive checklist like the one above, breaking it down into daily or weekly milestones. Then, include the document in their training packet to standardize and streamline the onboarding process.

Say No to Soft-Boiled Training Programs

Simply handing your dream team the checklist after a brief explanation will not make them successful. Create a special program to fully develop your buddy appointees and they, in turn, will be able to provide the best experience to your latest team additions.

Tip: If you need some help with creating a specialized program to train your “cultureboarders,” reach out to Talmundo. We can craft a unique onboarding process based on your needs, employees, company, and cultureboarding goals!

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

Before letting your onboarding buddies out into the wild, so to speak, do one final thing: set up an anonymous review process to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your program.

For instance, have new employees take a brief, anonymous survey on day one answering questions like “How prepared do you feel for your role on a scale of 1-10 (10 being ‘completely prepared’)?” and “On a scale from 1 to 10, how excited are you to come to work every day?” Then, give new hires the same survey after the first week or month and compare ratings. Do team members feel more prepared and engaged? If not, where are you going wrong?

Include free-form boxes in surveys so employees can write comments and make suggestions, and don’t forget to survey mentors as well—not just mentees—to get a 360-degree view of your cultureboarding program’s success.

Learn everything you need to know about creating the perfect new employee training program—download our free New Hire Onboarding Milestone Checklist!

We break down exactly how to engage employees throughout their first year and ensure that they become productive, positive additions to your workforce! Grab your complimentary copy now.