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Employment and Training Program Resources - Welfare to Work Vouchers

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 -   Establishing a Mentoring Program
 -   Mentoring Program Benefits
 -   Creating a Successful Mentoring Program
 -   Relevance to Mentoring Programs and Job Search Goals

Establishing a Mentoring Program

Mentoring programs are a proven tool to help welfare recipients and other disadvantaged workers transition into the workplace. Mentoring can help these workers overcome poor work histories and other barriers to employment, including poor "soft skills." However, despite the benefits, many companies do not yet have active mentoring programs. This section discusses the tenets of a good mentoring program that will help PHAs either evaluate partner mentoring programs or design and implement an in-house program.

Mentoring Program Benefits

Mentoring programs have been proven to improve job retention, reduce absenteeism, and increase productivity. A 1999 survey by the Welfare to Work Partnership indicated that among companies using mentors:

  • 75% reported improved work performance;
  • 67% reported higher job retention;
  • 63% reported reduced absenteeism; and
  • 52% reported that it resulted in cost savings for the company.

Employers - large and small - are increasingly using this approach to help entry-level employees make a smooth transition into the workplace as well as to retain their best employees.

Creating a Successful Mentoring Program

PHAs that want to develop partnerships with employers to provide this important service should consider the following suggestions for organizing and implementing an in-house mentoring program:

Develop program goals. The program should help voucher recipients become savvy about managing their careers, and it should help companies build morale and improve job retention. Programs can help voucher recipients develop long-term career goals and think about a career path before beginning the job search process. Voucher recipients will be more motivated and enthusiastic about an entry-level position if they know it will put them on a path to reaching long-term career goals.

Design an implementation strategy. It is helpful to designate a program manager and obtain consensus from staff on how many individuals your PHA or partner can reasonably mentor. Once this is agreed upon, you can determine what type of employer to partner with, how many mentors to recruit, and the period of time to which mentors must commit.

Partner with local employers. This is a key component of any mentoring program since one of the objectives is to help individuals make a successful transition into the workplace. When partnering with the business community, highlight the advantages of mentoring, including improved retention, reduced absenteeism, and cost savings.

Partner with Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). Collaboration with local faith-based organizations, local business organizations, and other CBOs can help to recruit mentors. Some possibilities include your local Chamber of Commerce, Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), or your local United Way chapter. These organizations offer a ready source of older individuals with experience, wisdom about the business world, and time to devote to mentoring.

Schedule an orientation and matching session for potential mentors and mentees. Many people do not understand the dynamics of a mentoring relationship. In addition, volunteers may not realize the time commitment involved - weekly meetings, being available to talk any time a problem arises, and an overall commitment of at least six months to a year. It is also important to have mentors and mentees spend time together before determining whether the relationship is a good fit. Mentees should ultimately be able to determine whether or not they are comfortable working with a chosen mentor.

Schedule a training session for committed mentors. People often have the wrong idea of a mentor's role and need training from an expert before they begin. A mentor is many things: a trusted friend, a good listener, and someone with knowledge and experience. However, a mentor is not a source of money, a chauffeur, or a nag. Mentors need to know what behavior is appropriate and what is not.

Develop a recognition system for mentors. Everyone needs a pat on the back and the assurance that they are doing a good job, including mentor volunteers. PHAs can recognize mentors with a separate column or page in their annual report about the mentoring program. PHAs can also hold an annual lunch or dinner to acknowledge the good works of their mentors.

Hold occasional mentor group meetings. The program manager should schedule occasional group meetings for mentors. These meetings are important to give mentors the opportunity to share their experiences, successes, and challenges with other mentors. The system also provides a support network to assist mentors in emergency situations.

Develop an evaluation system. This is essential to ensure program quality and continuous improvement. The system should include regular mentor debriefing sessions to make sure that mentor/mentee relationships are working well.

Benchmark examples of successful mentoring programs. Gathering resource material on best practices in mentoring programs will help to improve your PHA's (or partner's) program. For more information about the mentoring process and for examples of successful mentoring programs, contact the following organizations:

Relevance of Mentoring Programs to Job Search Goals

Job retention and career advancement are key components to an effective job search and placement program. By helping employers retain workers and employees advance in their careers, mentoring is an activity that can meet both of these objectives. (link to 4I and 4G, respectively)

For additional information on the importance of mentoring:

  • National Mentoring Partnership "Find a Mentor."

  • The Commonwealth Fund, "Mentoring Makes a Difference."

  • The Welfare to Work Partnership, Smart Solutions - "What is Mentoring?" This article appears on the Welfare to Work Partnership Web site under RCA 2000: Retention and Career Advancement.

Content current as of 13 June 2008   Follow this link to go  Back to top   
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