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Everyone knows how insane the war for talent currently is. No matter the size of your company the challenge of recruiting is impacting your business, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. You also have to find ways to develop your talent and then retain that talent. If you do not have a solid retention plan, the investment you made in recruitment will have been for naught.

In our industry, distributors and manufacturers are using a variety of mentoring approaches to develop and retain their most valuable asset—talented employees. In this article you will get insight into what these companies are doing along with key takeaways of specific actions that you can take and resources that IMARK members can use to enhance your talent development efforts and retention strategies.

Why is Retention so Important?

The pandemic had a huge impact on the working environment—suddenly work takes place at home versus in the office, employees have flexible work schedules, the great resignation happens due to high employment and workforce shortages and baby boomers retire without transferring their knowledge. These factors have all contributed to an increased likelihood of turnover. The cost to onboard and train a new employee is an investment and one for which you would like to see a return, so doing what you can to retain those employees means a stronger impact to your bottom line.

How Can Mentoring Impact Retention?

Investing in the development of your employees through formal or informal mentoring can increase retention rates up to 72%, according to a Gartner study. Employees want you to invest in them. They want to be shown that they have a future career path with your company. And, according to an Emerging Workforce Study, 35% of people who don’t receive regular mentoring will look for another job within 12 months. On the flip side, research shows that employees who received mentoring were promoted five times more often than those who didn’t have mentors (Sun Microsystems), which not only allows us to keep our talent but to grow and expand their impact on the business.

The benefits of a mentoring program are significant and while most company leaders admit mentoring is important, 80% of companies don’t have any sort of mentoring program. So, what’s standing in the way?

  • Lack of time and people resources
  • Not sure where to start

Here’s What a Few Companies in the Electrical Industry have Done to Get Started:

A large national distributor held a mentoring workshop during one of their leadership development meetings. The workshop provided participants with an overview on mentoring, best practices and how to navigate a mentoring journey. Then, each member got to meet three potential mentors in a “speed meeting” format for six minutes each. After the speed networking, participants identified their first, second and third choices for potential mentors. The matches were made and announced with some American Idol style flare (make the experience fun)! The pairs met every other week for 12 weeks. They took what they learned in the event and put it into practice beyond the event. Providing employees with continued insight, mentoring and development helps to increase their value to the company, each individual’s feeling of being included and connected and the company’s retention rates.

Another company had discussed mentoring for years but struggled to get a program launched. A senior leader within the company knew about the Empowering Women Mentorship Program (EWMP) and scheduled a call with us to talk through some ideas. Then, they utilized us (as industry veterans and mentoring experts) to help launch a platform (with consulting support) for an inaugural mentoring program with more than 30 mentoring pairs. This included assessments to facilitate the pair-matching process, kick off materials and ongoing support to ensure they maintained program momentum. After a successful first session, the company launched a second session with 50 pairs.

Another option is to utilize resources outside your company. The EWMP ( was launched in 2020 and now has had more than 200 up-and-coming women complete the program. With a 98% graduation rate, the program has seen a tremendous amount of growth and support within the industry. The program runs 14 weeks and pairs an up-and-coming woman with an industry veteran (male or female) in a structured program that is designed to have flexibility to ensure the participants are getting what they need out of the program.

Investing in your employees will help keep them with your company, driving your employee value, retention and bottom line. Investing in mentoring, specifically, will help shorten the time from new hire to being productive, foster a loyal and stable workforce, promote a positive image of our industry and facilitate that important knowledge transfer.

We’ve shared a few ideas on how you can leverage mentoring to achieve results:

  • Sponsor your up-and-coming female talent in EWMP
  • Engage us in a workshop and speed matching (live or virtual)
  • Leverage the EWMP proven platform and our expertise to launch your own mentoring program

Whatever you do, just get started!