The Importance of Mentorship for the Future Workforce

Millennials and Gen Z. Love or hate these generations, either way, they are the future workforce and they will inherit the planet soon enough. Actually, millennials are already occupying more and more senior positions, so they should be thought of as the leaders of today rather than the future. Unlike their boomer counterparts, millennials aren’t very loyal to their current workplaces and are motivated more by their personal values and beliefs. Gen Z craves meaning in their lives and work. Mentorship relationships are very valuable to these generations since mentoring accelerates an individual’s professional and personal development, and can help guide people towards doing the work that really matters to them.

Millennials believe that their mentors are interested in their personal development. This is incredibly powerful, as research shows that 68% of millennials who stay at their organization for 5 or more years have a mentor, compared to just 32% of those without a mentor. This generation does not stay long in careers and positions that offer little in the way of personal fulfillment. Mentoring not only provides access to faster individual development, but also may help this generation navigate their career path and find positions and career tracks most suited to their personal values. For example, the wisdom, hindsight, and different perspectives a mentor brings to a mentee may assist the mentee in targeting promotions or making slight shifts in career path that feel more fulfilling. Millennials also want a mentor more than a supervisor, and they want more frequent feedback. A study found that well over 40% of millennials prefer monthly feedback, and millennials preferred monthly and weekly feedback more than their non-millennial counterparts who preferred quarterly or annual feedback. The deloitte study found that millennials overwhelmingly find mentorship to be valuable, with 94% of millennials believing their mentor provides them with good advice. And yet, only 61% of millennials have a mentor. This gap between millennials finding mentorship relationships useful and the small number of millennials with mentors may be indicative of a lack of access to mentoring.

As the future workforce, Gen Z is primarily concerned with personal growth and environments that have positive role models who show an interest in their work. Like millennials, Gen Z individuals are not interested in doing work that offers little meaning to them. A study showed that 86% of young people say it is important that current or future bosses or supervisors offer them opportunities to grow. And yet, only 38% have someone who models positive actions for a successful life. This gap might be closed by mentorship relationships that Gen Z can count on to help guide their careers and personal development. Research points to loneliness being a major concern for the younger generation, as 1 in 3 of the young people surveyed said they feel completely alone, much of the time. This might be mitigated by meaningful mentoring relationships where Gen Z individuals feel cared about and guided.

For generations that hunger for meaning and personal fulfillment in their work, mentoring can provide a path to finding exactly that. The knowledge and experience mentors bring to the table can help these younger generations of leaders and workers find their place in the workforce. Since the world increasingly belongs to them, it’s important we pay attention to the needs and expectations millennials and Gen Z have for their professional environments. With the gap in mentorship bridged, even more leaders will emerge from these generations – and they will be better prepared as well.

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