Can Mentorship Offer Support In A Pandemic World?


In the midst of a global pandemic, many are struggling to find new and creative ways to progress socially, emotionally, and professionally. If the current times weren’t difficult enough, both the unemployment rate and new mental health conditions are on the rise. This leaves many employees feeling hopeless, overwhelmed with new challenges, and isolated with fewer resources. So, where can young professionals and struggling entrepreneurs hoping to make a place for themselves amidst a global health crisis turn to?

While much of the world is still shuttered, employees are looking at others to provide the much-needed support and guidance to make the most of a difficult situation. Enter the solution: In a time where everything is changing daily, mentorship can provide the support, confidence, and assistance an employee needs to succeed and thrive.

Mentorship in the workplace can encourage open communication and foster a supportive environment so employees can develop their highest and best selves and, in turn, do their best work. In unprecedented circumstances, this new evolution of mentorship can build crucial relationships and benefit mentees, mentors, and businesses at large.

Studies show that mentorship can provide invaluable support to individuals and result in innumerable benefits within corporations. Mentorship has been profoundly impactful in my own work and life as founder and CEO of my own company. I’ve looked up to people like Gino Wickman, author of “Traction and Entrepreneurial Leap” who has created some amazing resources like the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) and MentorTrack specifically for entrepreneurs seeking advice, guidance, and reassurance. Fostering this type of support within companies and organizations can increase employee retention, lower mental health-related absenteeism, and generally improve workplace culture; helping the next generation of entrepreneurs, young professionals, and workers rise to the new challenges of today with the help of trusted expertise gleaned from the past.

Interestingly, mentorship during the pandemic is not altogether stifled. According to an article from Harvard Business Review, social distancing is not the end of mentorship, but instead a new opportunity for mentors to connect and engage with mentees in a time of crisis to form a stronger bond – reinforcing that old adage “when one teaches, two learn.” With young workers and entrepreneurs facing a troublesome job market, many are looking for networking opportunities and back door connections with renewed vigor to help increase their feelings of self-worth in their current roles.

So how can businesses and individuals offer mentorship right now?

It all starts with implementing an effective mentorship program within your workplace. This can be done by working with leaders within the company to outline the practice of mentorship and the many benefits associated with happier, healthier workers. The 13% productivity increase from happier workers with basic emotional needs met, i.e. from mentoring practices, is just one of many reasons that mentorship doesn’t just create better workplace environments, but creates profit-increasing and revenue-saving results.

If you’re thinking of becoming a mentor yourself, it’s important to understand how to be an effective point of contact for your mentee. It all comes down to listening, adapting, and investing—these three basic components are the most crucial for modern-day professional mentorship.

First, it’s important to show compassion and empathy. With 78% of the global workforce reporting a negative impact on their mental health from the pandemic, according to an Oracle and Workplace Intelligence study, it’s clear that workers are facing increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. People are hurting now more than ever, and a listening and sympathetic ear can make all the difference, even if it’s through a screen or receiver. There’s nothing unprofessional about discussing mental health, despite what many toxic workplace cultures might have you believe. Addressing the challenges mentees are facing can help alleviate added worry and provide an avenue for discussing options for help and treatment.

Next, a mentor must do their best to understand the present time and adapt to its new challenges. According to a recent Forbes survey, a majority of U.S. job market experts warn that the market won’t recover until 2022 at the earliest. The chief investment officer at JPMorgan Asset Management, Bob Michele, takes an even more grim stance and doesn’t predict the return of the old 3.5% unemployment rate for ten-plus years. These help to paint the picture of the current circumstances, which are new and difficult to manage for both those just starting out and those branching into new fields or positions within a company. Mentors must understand the old advice and strategies might not be as effective as they once were and adapt their mentorship tactics accordingly.

Mentors should leverage their past experience to help mentees position themselves attractively and capably in this new world. Within organizations, it’s important to look toward ways to become indispensable. Now is the time to appeal to both those longing for the simplicity of the past and those looking toward the virtual nature of the future. Discussing new pandemic roadblocks, concerns, and problems can help mentees understand how the business world is adapting. Leveraging old skills in fresh contexts can help mentees become more confident in a confusing time.

Lastly, it’s vital to be consistent. Right now, it’s easy to get caught up in the many moving parts that come with a pandemic. Naturally, people are prioritizing their own family and personal wellness which means many passion projects or additional duties are falling to the wayside. While understandable, it’s important to not let the mentee-mentor relationship suffer. The single most important thing you can do as a mentor is show up, consistently and with delegated time to prioritize their questions and growth. With this intent, your mentee can see you as a steadfast resource in an uncertain time and wholeheartedly rely on you to care about their personal and professional growth.

A business will thrive when employees within the same corporation connect with each other as peers and not competition. A mentorship program will empower employees of all levels to form strong professional relationships where they can seek or provide advice to help raise employee morale, open the pathways and platforms for critical dialogue and bolster a stronger, more compassionate and effective workforce.

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