How to Assign Employee Mentors During New-Hire Onboarding

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Author’s Note: The following blog post offers a glimpse into viperks’ recently-published eBook entitled, "You Wouldn’t Believe How Awesome My First Day of Work Was at…" This eBook creates the essential onboarding playbook for how companies with strong culture train new employees.

It’s not easy being the new guy (or gal).

When new hires commence employment opportunities, they often grasp for someone to latch onto. No one, after all, wants to go it alone. There’s a sense of comfort that develops when you secure a helpful ally amidst the sea of newness.

Some corporations have adopted a proactive approach by utilizing formal mentoring programs during new-hire onboarding – and for good reason. Effective mentoring has been demonstrated to increase employee engagement and bolster retention. One recent study found that 77 percent of companies with a mentoring program indicated it improved both employee retention and job performance.

In the best-case scenario, mentor-mentee relationships prove mutually beneficial. The mentee receives guidance towards growing within the company while the mentor has an opportunity to refine his or her leadership skills.

Here are six tips for how to successfully assign employee mentors during new-hire onboarding:

1. Define the Goal of Your Mentoring Program

It’s important to establish and articulate what you hope to accomplish with your mentoring program. For instance, perhaps you want 85 percent of new hires to achieve self-sufficiency following their first six months of mentor-aided employment. Having a clear objective will enable you to secure buy-in from leadership, mentors and new employees.

2. Recruit Qualified Employees to Serve as Mentors

It takes a special blend of skills to effectively mentor a coworker. Not only must mentors possess experience with their job functions and extensive knowledge of the company, but they also must have the capability to teach. By offering incentives via an employee rewards program to those staff members selected to serve as mentors, you can help ensure the most qualified candidates opt to participate in your mentoring program.

3. Have Mentors Participate in the Onboarding Process

Don’t wait until that ever-important first week of employee onboarding is complete to involve mentors in the process. Even if your collection of mentors has yet to be assigned to individual new hires, these employees can assist HR by leading onboarding presentations or exercises. Most mentors will welcome this obligation as a rewarding change of pace from their usual day-to-day functions.

4. Practice Patience with Assigning Mentors to New Hires

If tasked with the role of playing mentor-mentee matchmaker, don’t necessarily rush to judgment. It may be advisable to wait until after the new employee’s first week to designate a mentor, as you’ll have a better idea regarding who would be a strong fit from a chemistry standpoint.

5. Assign New Employees Both a Buddy and a Mentor

Ideally each new hire will have two helpful advisers. Whereas a “buddy” shows the new hire the ins and outs of the office, assists with introductions and answers general questions not pertaining to job function, a “mentor” should be someone from the same department as the new employee who will ultimately help cultivate that employee’s career.

6. Incorporate a Fun Way to Kick-Off the Mentor-Mentee Relationship

Once each new hire has been assigned a mentor, it’s worthwhile to formally launch your program in a fun manner. Begin with a get-to-know-you icebreaker activity and a group lunch outing. When you start off each fresh generation of your mentoring program on the right foot, you better position mentors to help prep their paired employees for success with their new positions.


At viperks, we recognize the merits of the mentor-mentee relationship, as well as the value engaged employees bring to your company. Learn more about the mentor onboarding relationship from companies consistently voted "The Best Places to Work" in our eBook:

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Topics: onboarding

blog author

Eric Golubitsky

Eric brings 18+ years of entrepreneurial experience. Eric founded S.M.I.L.E. Inc. in 1998, which was a Consumer Electronic Pro Top 100 home automation provider and was recognized as the #1 fastest growing company in NE Ohio by CWRU Weatherhead School of Management in 2003. As an Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" finalist in 2005, Eric's accomplishments have been recognized multiple times including the Consumer Electronics Association's national "Mark of Excellence Award." Eric is also a 5 year member of EO (Entrepreneurs Organization).