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How To Create A Senior Care Mentorship Program From Scratch

June 7, 2019 | Peter Corless

How to build a mentorship program from scratchMentorship programs present a multitude of benefits for long-term care and senior living organizations. They help new employees become acclimated to their job, provide positive role models for new hires, assist in training and professional development, aid in recruitment and retention, and improve business outcomes.

In fact, Deloitte Global CEO, Punit Renjen accredits a good portion of his success to mentorships: “There is really no secret (to success) and there surely are no shortcuts. In my case, it was a pretty simple equation: hard work + some lucky breaks + great mentors.”

And today’s mostly millennial workforce values and thrives under mentors and sees it as crucial to their career development. According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, of those that report having a mentor, 83% are satisfied with this aspect of their working lives and 94% say their mentor provides good advice.

What’s more, these programs can have a huge impact on retention. The survey found that those intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).

So, how do you go about building a mentorship program? Well, there is no “one-size fits all” blueprint. Each program must be built to fit the provider’s mission and goals, as well as its corporate culture. Here are four common touch points to consider when establishing a successful—and sustainable—mentorship program.

 1. Lay Out Objectives 

What are the goals of the mentorship program? Is the goal to reduce turnover? Identify and train the next generation of leaders? Improve company morale and teamwork? Encourage good behavior on the job? 

A mentorship program can be tailored to meet a single objective, or multiple objectives. Christian Living Communities of Englewood, Colorado established a mentorship program to address a rise in turnover. Research determined that new hires did not know what was expected of them and had no clear work contact to answer their questions. New hires are now paired with mentors, and the two work alongside each other to ensure a uniform set of skills and goals within the new hires’ first month of employment.

CTA How To Build A Senior Care Mentorship Program From Scratch

 2. Determine The Program’s Structure

A mentorship program should be tailored to fit its manager. If a provider’s executive team is spearheading the effort, the program should be more formal, with strict procedures and progress reports.

An employee-led program, on the other hand, can still have guidelines but the implementation can be looser. It can allow for cooperation between mentor and mentee, while still tracking the progress of the goals being set.

 3. Match Mentors & Mentees

The most important step in developing a mentorship program is matching each new employee with a mentor who can meet the needs of a new employee, and help him or her fulfill his or her goals.

There are two ways to match: the mentor selects the mentee or vice versa. Presbyterian Senior Living has an internal leadership development program where executives identify future leaders and provide mentorship to these candidates in small group settings. The program was inspired by Presbyterian Senior Living CEO Stephen Proctor’s own experiences being matched with a mentor when he started his career.

Mentees can also choose their mentors, and studies have shown that giving mentees the ability to pick their mentors can lead to more successful outcomes.

Regardless of how they are paired, the relationship is the same. The mentor must be at a higher career level than the mentee. This establishes credibility from the start and establishes the skill requirements for the mentee to meet the level of the mentor.

Track Progress & Results

In order to gauge the success of a mentorship program, there should be some baseline metrics that are set.

The program administrator should schedule regular check-ins with mentor and mentee to track the progress of the relationship and to see if objectives are being met. Written reviews should be filed to determine the effectiveness of the relationship, as well as to determine strengths and weaknesses of the mentor and mentee. 

One of the easiest ways to track a mentorship program’s success is to keep close tabs on new hire performance. OnShift Engage’s new hire dashboard gives management visibility into key behaviors tied to performance such as attendance and on-time punches. If an employee is doing well, encourage more good behavior with rewards and recognition. Conversely, coach those who are underperforming and work with their mentor get them back on track.

Another way to get feedback on the program is to directly ask. Customizable new hire surveys are a great way to do this. Simply ask your mentors and mentees how the relationship is going and ask for any feedback to improve the program. 

This information can be used to tweak the shortcomings in the program, establish best practices for future relationships and identify whether successful mentees can serve as mentors at a later date.

With this foundation, senior care providers can develop their own mentorship programs tailor-made to their specific needs, establish a pipeline for future recruitment or new talent, as well as lay the foundation for successful retention and career advancement.  

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About Peter Corless

Peter Corless is Executive Vice President of Enterprise Development for OnShift. Peter is a recognized HR leader in post-acute care and is well-known for his achievements at some of the country’s largest post-acute care organizations, including Kindred Healthcare and Genesis HealthCare. As an experienced, chief administrative and human resources officer within these organizations, he developed strategies that reduced turnover, improved recruiting and hiring strategies, and reduced labor costs.

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