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How Do We Build Loyalty in New Employees?

How do we launch a mentoring program that helps new employees build a strong connection to our company? <i>&#8212;Help Me Make It Happen, HR Director, Portland, Oregon</i>

May 1, 2013

Dear Help Me Make It Happen:

Starting a new job can be a nerve-wracking experience for employees. A new-hire mentoring program can really help ease new employees' fears and provide them with an additional resource to build a strong early connection to your company. Mentoring programs should be a part of your overall retention plan, as well as an integral piece of your training and development.

New-hire mentoring programs provide many benefits for both the organization and the employee. The program ensures new employees are comfortable, have someone to talk with and learn from and help them quickly become productive. New-hire mentoring programs help employees learn your organization's unspoken culture: The unconscious and unspoken beliefs that determine "how things are done" within your company. When this information isn't communicated, new employees can find it difficult to be successful and may feel ostracized or get discouraged.

Before launching a mentoring program specifically for new employees, first determine its main objectives. For example, some programs are designed to give new employees a broad feel of the company, the "what we do, why we do it, and what we need you to do" information that is critical to getting established. Other programs are set up to assist with training or succession planning.

Make sure your mentoring program has an executive that champions it. Ideally, this will be an executive in a high-visibility position (usually someone outside of human resources) that is easily recognized by new hires. Having a senior leader publicly support the program and encourage employees to participate is crucial. A welcoming email from leader to new employees can prove invaluable.

The next step is to identify mentors. For a new mentoring program, try to select mentors that work in the same location or in jobs functions similar to that of new employees. This enables the mentor to share experiences that are relevant to the new hire and respond to early questions and concerns. Depending on the objective of the program, you may wish to have senior level (non-managerial) staff gain useful coaching skills.

Finally, communicate about the program so that everyone knows it exists, how it works and why it's important. Talk about it during the recruitment and hiring process, (including interviews) and during new-hire orientation. Make it part of your onboarding checklist. Publicize the program's successes in the company newsletter or Intranet. This keeps the mentoring program in employees' minds.

There are a variety of ways to measure the success of your mentoring program. Survey program participants to get feedback on how the mentorships help newly hired workers integrate with the company. Use quantitative measures, such as asking participants to rate the degree to which mentoring helped them, increased their commitment or helped solve problems or challenges. Plus, open-ended questions uncover exactly how the program helped the new hires. You can also track and compare retention rates, performance evaluations and promotions for new employees that participate in the mentoring program, vs. those that did not.

SOURCE: Laura DiFlorio, Nobscot Corp., Honolulu

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.