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Research: Mentorship, Professional Growth Key to Building Strong Employee-Company Bonds

One10's study reveals the four major factors critical to workers' loyalty and engagement.

Inspiring workers and strengthening their relationships with their employers is a challenge in trying times. To better understand what connects employees to their workplace, reward and recognition company One10 recently surveyed 3,000 employees (1,000 of them salespeople); the goal was to better understand the mechanics of workplace recognition and sales incentives.

The study leveraged One10's rsX, a proprietary research tool that measures the impact marketing initiatives have on relationships, as well as the degree that improved relationships lead to better results. The rsX methodology draws on answers related to respondents' levels of trust, commitment and alignment with not only their organization but also with managers and peers to assign a value to their overall relationship strength, or "rsX score."

While the full rsX study covered more than 170 questions related to employees' relationships to their organization, it found four key areas that were particularly impactful when it came to performance improvement: mentoring, competent management, inspirational leaders and professional growth.

Mentoring

Relationship strength was found to almost double (from 3.22 to 6.23) in those employees who felt that managers listen to their concerns. A similarly significant difference was revealed in the relationship strength between employees who said their manager stimulates the development of skills (rsX 6.23 compared to rsX 3.29 for those who disagreed) and those who said their manager makes sure employees have access to proper training (rsX 6.30 compared to rxX 3.10 for those who disagreed).

To this end, Jennifer Albee, director of performance improvement and training for One10, stressed  that when launching new recognition programs or culture-change initiatives, the use of a "champion" role stimulates better performance. 

"The perception that 'my manager supports me developing myself and is allowing me time to train, and the perception that my company is giving me the training resources I need' show that they are key drivers of the relationship strength," said Albee. "This results in whether or not they're more willing to stay with the organization, whether they're going to volunteer for things, whether whether they're going to recommend the organization to others — all of those things can be impacted by that relationship support."

Competent Management

Relationship strength more than doubled for those participants who said they believe that their managers are capable of doing their jobs and have the skills necessary to take the company where it wants to go. Albee explained that when managers aren't able to convey the importance of what the employee is doing and how the team's work affects the organization overall, the individual will not feel a connection to the organization.

"There's an opportunity to build managers' competencies, not just in whether they're truly capable and have those skills, but whether they have the confidence to be advocates," said Albee. "No matter how effective or capable a manager is in an organization and at upper levels of the organization, if their team members don't understand what they're doing and aren't aware of that, there's a strong chance there will be a disconnection."

Inspirational Leaders

When asked if their manager's enthusiasm makes them want to do my job better, 41 percent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed, while 28 percent agreed or strongly agreed. 

"That's definitely concerning to us in performance improvement," said Albee. "In practice, there are two options: to build up those managers that are doing well and whose employees feel they demonstrate their interest in performance, and to work with those managers who aren't able to demonstrate that."

Professional Growth

The research revealed a difference in relationship strength (from 3.22 to 6.23 )between those who disagreed that their company provides access to training and those who agreed.

"We need to both encourage and incentivize managers to promote performance within their teams," said Albee. "Not just telling them the 'what' of what's coming, the new product or process, but 'why' it's important, why it's going to affect the performance of the organization and why you as a manager need to promote that with your team."