A new 'virtual workforce'
The edu-technology is heating up and mentoring has a part to play in online learning of the future. We have found that social distancing doesn't have to disrupt mentorship. The pandemic has encouraged large scale adoption of technologies such as zoom, gmeet, etc. Teleworking and video chat have created an opportunity for business to adapt to a virtual environment.
Although business continuity and clients remain the key focus during the pandemic, it is important organisations don't lose sight of their employees. A happy and engaged workforce creates productivity and commitment, while an uncertain landscape can lead to a disenfranchised staff and disaster. Organisations are facing unprecedented challenges, not all companies will survive the long term impacts of this pandemic. It can be easy, but short sighted, for organisations to focus on cost cutting. However, there are multiple reasons why management should not let employee engagement, development and overall satisfaction be an afterthought.
Mentors, formally or informally, play a key role in staff retention and succession planning. Workers, having not been in the office for months, might only have had contact with their direct team. The emotional bonds to the organisation may have frayed with a perceived lack of support. It could only be too easy for those disenfranchised workers to have wandering eyes on new job opportunities in a volatile market. However, research has shown that when mentors are actively engaged with mentees, those mentees report higher job satisfaction, productivity and engagement with the organisation. Even in a virtual world, mentoring relationships are vital to retaining high potential talent.
Mentoring no longer needs to top-to-bottom, we should be looking at horizontal mentoring and reverse mentoring. Why? We are in a landscape of new opportunities. The post-pandemic world is volatile for sure, business has changed and what this new 'normal' will look like has been debated-hotly but not decided.
Large scale adoption of new technologies has created a dependency on the more tech-native juniors. However the more experienced staff have been depended on for their experience in navigating a more turbulent marketplace. There are opportunities for inter-department learnings with each trying to get their own bearings of what the future will look like. Mentoring is an opportunity for contextualised learning, with the ability for each part to demonstrate their learnings through experience.
Not just opportunity for organisations to break down inter-department silos, for individuals mentoring can be a life-altering experience. Strong mentoring relationships built on a intrinsic motivation to grow and develop a mentee's professional and personal wellbeing, identity and productivity. Now more than ever, with such individual uncertainty, mentoring can lower the anxiety one has over their future and promote self-worth. It can be a stark reminder that there is indeed someone in their corner, pushing them to succeed.