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Justifying a Mentoring Program


Justifying a Mentoring Program

Written by: Connie Deianni

Leadership Engagement Managers:

  • Have you been looking for a way to cost justify a mentor program?
  • Did your senior leadership assigned you the task of developing a program, but didn’t include a budget?
  • Are you looking for more diversity in your workforce, but continue with the same recruitment strategies?
  • And last but not least, has your top talent left for reasons other than money?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, keep reading.

Many times companies want to jump on the mentor program bandwagon because everyone else seems to be jumping in the wagon, but the wagon doesn’t seem to move because they haven’t thought through the process of “why.”

Identifying the Change

I often talk to companies who are desperate for a mentor program, but when asked “what are you trying to change,” I get a blank stare. How can you cost justify something when you don’t even understand why you are doing it?

Before embarking on the process of developing a mentor program, ask whoever is in charge of the budget, “what do you want to be different after the program is implemented?” This is your cost justification! The budget for the program becomes abundantly clear when you understand what needs to be different, i.e. retention of top talent, increased bench strength, broader diversity or retention of valuable institutional knowledge.

Mentor programs allow you to create more diversity in your workforce by networking across divisions and silos to give “unseen” talent a platform to showcase their skill sets. Mentees can learn from those outside of their departments through shadow opportunities and subject matter expert meetings. Thought diversity flourishes and so will the innovation throughout the company.

And finally, if your top talent is leaving and taking the institutional knowledge with them for little or no pay increase, ask yourself if “paying attention to them” and helping them to build their skill sets would have made a difference?

Cost justifying a mentor program is as easy as understanding the recruitment, interviewing, hiring, onboarding and training cost for a new hire within your industry. Lose 5-10 of your top employees a year and the cost of building a mentor program becomes a rounding error on the balance sheet.


If you are trying to cost justify a mentor program, your decision makers at the top haven’t bought in or don’t have the vision of what it means to mentor current employees for long term results.

Until you have a visionary leader who understands the cost of losing institutional knowledge and the negative impact to the company, you will need to cost justify a program through increased retention, cost of turnover, employee engagement scores and/or the lost opportunity cost of innovation due to lack of thought diversity.

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