An example in Public Re;ations
FitzGerald Communications, based in Cambridge, Mass.,finds itself trying to hire and keep employees in a job market in which employees can easily jump across the street for more money and perks. To become more competitive in recruiting the talent they need and to better retain that talent for positions that open as more senior staff retire, this company is using a powerful mentor program. The goals of this program are so critical to the compant that it has produced an 18-page mentoring handbook to capture and share what it is discovering works best for these two goals.
Initially, according to Jennifer Wambold, the public-relations firm’s vice-president of human resources, new employees are placed for their first 90 days with mentors from the various account teams. The new hires learn the “lay of the land” and are oriented to the company processes and work flow. They also gain a more holistic view of the entire company and it’s business, which better positions new employees to make educated choices about where they best fit in. THAT in tern helps retain the staff long-term.
During that first team assignment, those newer employees design goals for their own development over the next year. Also during that orientation phase, new hires identify three mentor candidates who they think could help them. The company makes the final determination from those three candidates based on the now better known needs of the new hires and the strengths of the more experienced staff who have agreed to be mentors.
Once paired, the mentoring partners meet formally once each quarter. Most meet much more frequently than that. Kim Miller, an account director, says she sits down with each of her three “mentees” at least once a month. And just in case anyone was thinking about flaking out on the deal, forget about it. Before the program even starts, both mentor and mentee sign a contract. “Accountability is a key component,” Wambold says. “I know of mentor programs that have flopped because companies aren’t holding staff accountable.” To amplify the program’s importance, FitzGerald uses mentor and mentee input in its annual employee reviews.
It seems to work. FitzGerald boasts a 32% turnover rate, compared with a 42% industry average, according to the trade magazine PR Week. Miller, says she thinks the mentoring program helps both attract and retain employees. “It’s partly the program that’s kept me here over three years.”