Mentorship programs can increase worker retention

By: sschnipper May 19, 2024

As featured in FleetOwnerIDEAXCHANGE – Gino Fontana

Attracting and retaining people in the trucking industry has its struggles as we all work hard to fill spots in our roster. Here’s an interesting thing I learned recently: Most employee turnover happens within the first 90 days of employment—at least according to Marilyn Surber, head of industry relations at Tenstreet, speaking on a Truckload Carriers Association webinar.

I did a little investigating and found the first few months on the job are critical to employee retention. That means the onboarding process should be an essential element of your retention strategy.

Another way to improve employee retention is through mentorship programs, other webinar participants explained. Mentorship involves pairing up a new hire with a more seasoned employee. In addition to answering questions the new hire may be hesitant to ask their boss, the seasoned employee can clue them in on processes and procedures that may not be included in the employee manual. Mentors can also help steep the new employee in corporate culture, especially around things like corporate values, safety, customer service, etc.

When selecting mentors and when matching mentors with new hires, you must be careful. Mentors should be chosen from employees who are willing to share their knowledge and who have a keen understanding of the way your company operates. You should select someone who is patient and willing to take time out of their workday to answer questions.

You can set up mentorships for drivers, technicians, and employees in other areas of your business. The goal of these mentorship programs is to make the new employee feel welcome and valued.

Mentors also provide another level of input on an employee’s performance. They can provide management with insight into the employee’s strengths and weaknesses, and they can even offer suggestions on an appropriate career path for a new employee.

One thing to remember is that the mentee is not the only one who benefits from the relationship. Being a mentor can be a rewarding experience. Many people feel good when they can share their knowledge and wisdom. Many mentors say they feel a sense of pride when the person they have been mentoring masters a new skill, achieves a goal, or receives a promotion. Asking long-time employees to be mentors is a great way to re-engage them in the organization and can help retain “tribal knowledge” that would otherwise be lost when seasoned employees leave.

Setting up a mentorship program can take a bit of time but will not require a lot of additional resources, and it can yield some significant results in terms of increased employee satisfaction.