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How to create a successful reverse mentoring scheme

Reverse mentoring is a great way to support graduates with building relationships and provide development opportunities for all employees. Here we reveal our latest research on this and how graduates can support other employees with digital skills - even when working from home. We also share our top tips for implementing a reverse mentoring scheme.

Reverse Mentoring

Reverse mentoring can be very helpful for encouraging the improvement of skills for working from home, and this is an area where your youngest employees can really add value. Generation Z are digital natives. They have never known a time without technology in their lives and they have developed skills and capabilities that are perfectly suited to current times. Our recent research found that under lockdown Generation Z has been thriving, with 60% proving to be more productive than others in the team.

We found that while some people have adapted well to working from home, others have been struggling. In fact, a quarter (24%) of participants in our study are still having problems with video platforms. As highlighted earlier, Boomers have increased their use of digital communication by 78%, the average worker by 22%, but Generation Z only by 11%. This is because this group has already been using these platforms for a long while – lockdown is more or less business as usual for them. In contrast, a quarter of 39-54 year olds (26%) said that their productivity has lowered during lockdown.

While you might be uncomfortable with video conferencing for interviews, Generation Z are not. 81% of them have confidence in their own abilities to get a new job through this means if need be, and 1.8 million people in this group have applied for jobs in this way during lockdown. You can draw on these skills from within your own organisations to help those that are not so adept with the technology to adapt. By pairing up more senior employees with Generation Z, both can learn from each other. Generation Z can offer technology tips and advice on digital communication to help troubleshoot. More senior employees can share guidance and advice on personal development which the younger generations crave. This is a win-win situation.

Reverse mentoring does not just have to be about conquering video platforms. It is increasingly expected that people of every generation have strong digital communication skills and a personal brand that reflects this.

Studies show that reverse mentoring helps to retain younger generations by providing them with recognition for what they bring to the firm. It also promotes diversity and opens up senior management to new ways of working that are more appealing to younger employees.

With COVID-19 set to influence behaviour for months and maybe even years, remote working is likely to be far more commonplace after lockdown than it was beforehand. This will drive the digital shift much faster than ever before. Gaining digital skills and competencies to succeed in this environment is critical to the employer brand. Reverse mentoring can help achieve this and can be motivational for both parties in the process.

Tips for setting up a reverse mentoring scheme

How long should it run for?

  • Test it out! See if 3-6 months is long enough and consider rotating graduates with different employees

Who should get involved?

  • Team recent graduates up with managers/senior managers
  • You could also match up individuals with employees from different areas of the business
  • Consider buddying up individuals who have different strengths – so that they can learn from one another. For example, for a tech-related reverse mentoring scheme, you could buddy up digital natives with those who by their own admission are less confident with technology, to allow mutual sharing of skills and knowledge

How regular should catch ups be?

  • These could be bi-weekly or monthly – this is a great way to have regular check-ins, to discuss any thoughts and progress
  • For a tech-related reverse mentoring scheme, it is useful to provide guidance on effective reverse mentoring and encourage honesty on the part of those with lower levels of digital skills – everyone has something to learn from reverse mentoring

What could mentoring involve?

This could be anything from:

  • Using different tech and software programmes
  • Creating innovation opportunities
  • Learning about different cultures within your organisation
  • Discussing certain projects that are relevant and topical