In today’s evolving business climate, technology leaders are looking for ways to stay ahead of customer expectations and accelerate innovation. Investing in professional development through mentoring is a valuable strategy that benefits employees and organizations as a whole. In fact, 70% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentorship programs.
“Mentoring plays a strong role in developing talent, establishing connections, and advancing careers,” said Leslie Camino, senior director of corporate leadership development and diversity, equity, and inclusion at Keysight Technologies. “Individuals sometimes lack the confidence, feel they need permission to seek out a mentor or are not quite sure how to go about it. Therefore, facilitating the process through enterprise programs can make a big impact.” In the video below, Leslie gives tips for finding a mentor who can accelerate your career.
In honor of National Mentoring Month, we’re sharing eight ways that technology companies can strengthen their competitive advantage by embracing employee mentorship.
Mentoring in tech: 8 key benefits for employers
1. Attract and retain STEM talent
In 2022, we’ll likely see a continuation of the Great Resignation, or the Great Reshuffle, that is driving increased turnover at companies. Fast Company reported that 23% of employed Americans plan to quit their jobs in the next 12 months. Particularly in STEM fields where we face a global skills gap, it’s more important than ever to attract talent and re-engage employees with professional development opportunities. Mentoring could help inspire the next generation of researchers, scientists, physicists, and engineers who will shape the future of technology.
A mentorship program appeals to a broad pool of candidates, helping to distinguish your company in the tech industry’s competitive job market. Mentoring also keeps current employees engaged. A CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness Survey revealed that 91% of employees with a mentor are satisfied with their jobs — and happy employees stay with their companies longer.
2. Preserve institutional knowledge
One of the biggest downsides of employee turnover in the tech industry is losing valuable institutional knowledge. Mentorship programs help to reduce turnover by ensuring employees get the career growth opportunities they need to feel engaged and challenged.
Mentoring also improves communication between employees so that their expertise remains in your organization when they leave. Keysight’s Emeritus program allows employees who are approaching retirement to leave a legacy by mentoring the next generation. This not only supports succession planning and knowledge transfer, but boosts cross-generational collaboration between employees at the end of their careers and emerging talent.
3. Create an inclusive work environment
Mentor programs designed specifically for underrepresented groups in the tech industry helps create an inclusive workplace culture where everyone can be their authentic self. “Research has shown that mentoring positively impacts the careers and professional capabilities of women and people of color,” said Leslie.
Liz Ruetsch, Keysight’s General Manager of Quantum Engineering Solutions (and an avid mentor and mentee) wanted to create a platform for women interested in quantum. So, in 2021, Keysight partnered with OneQuantum.org to launch Women in Quantum. This mentoring program brings together students, professors, and employees from Keysight and other companies to share their knowledge and ensure women’s voices are heard in this important emerging field.
4. Increase diversity in leadership roles
Mentorship can provide opportunities and support for groups who are often underrepresented in leadership positions in the tech industry. A Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations study revealed that mentoring programs could increase minority representation in management by up to 24%.
Keysight has a history of developing promising employees into senior leadership roles through mentoring. Our Chief Operating Officer Satish Dhanasekaran, Chief Administrative Officer Ingrid Estrada, and Electronic Industrial Solutions Group President Ee Huei Sin, among others, all graduated from our Next Generation Leadership Programs.
“We have a good track record of developing and mentoring future leaders,” noted Leslie. “In 2021, more than 60% of participants in our Emerging Leaders program were women. That’s significant, because there’s a good chance that some might rise to the C-level in the future.”
5. Build a sense of community
Employees who experience a sense of belonging, are more likely to feel motivated, communicate better with their colleagues, and identify with the company’s mission. For example, Keysight’s New Employee mentor program pairs new hires with employees outside of their direct team members to help them expand their network and learn how to be successful at our organization.
“We hear a lot of stories where individuals are blown away by their mentors’ candor, shared experiences, and simply feeling that they matter,” said Leslie. “Having someone dedicate time to impart their wisdom and knowledge to help you succeed is powerful.”
6. Accelerate tech innovation
When technology teams are made up of employees from diverse backgrounds who feel valued and encouraged, innovation happens. Mentoring programs, especially those designed for underrepresented groups, help to boost innovative thinking at technology companies.
Mentees who feel supported can more confidently share their ideas and collaborate with others. In turn, bringing a range of fresh perspectives into the product development process ultimately leads to a stronger technology solution that appeals to a broader customer base.
7. Improve employee productivity
In the fast-paced world of technology, it’s important for employees to quickly pick up on organizational operations and protocols- especially those unspoken rules. Mentees can ask mentors questions and receive feedback on their work, which helps them be more effective in their role. Meanwhile, mentees teach their mentors new ways of doing things that increase productivity and fuels a growth mindset.
Mentoring is especially helpful for new employees, who are able to be productive faster when given the proper support. “Our mentoring programs ensure new hires feel welcome and learn the Keysight culture so they can add value right away,” said Leslie.
8. Empower mentors, too
Employees who serve as mentors feel more valued and that their work is more meaningful, which encourages them to take on advanced leadership roles and increases their engagement. Mentors are often asked to be vulnerable and honest when providing company historical knowledge to mentees, allowing for a positive workplace relationship for both. In many cases, C-suite executives are eager to engage with younger talent to gain a glimpse into other ranks within their company.
“Mentoring is not just one-way — both parties get something out of the relationship and have the opportunity to share knowledge and skills,” said Leslie. “Participating in our programs also reminds mentors how exciting it is to work at Keysight, when seeing it with fresh eyes.”
Set your employees up for success through mentoring
Mentoring provides a unique and rewarding opportunity for technology companies to empower employees, create an inclusive workplace culture, and drive innovation. Companies can design mentorship programs to address strategic objectives that will drive the organization forward — including identifying high-potential talent, onboarding new hires, increasing diversity in leadership and creating a sense of belonging. In the highly competitive technology industry, there’s no question that companies that invest in professional development opportunities for their employees will be more successful in the long-term.