Archives for October 2016

Would a Four-Day Workweek Be More Productive?

In 1890, the United States government began tracking workers’ time on the job. It found that the average workweek for full-time manufacturing employees was around 100 hours. A half century later, after a drawn out battle between workers and government officials, the five-day, 40-hour workweek became standard practice.

Now, it appears a more radical idea is taking hold that would potentially reduce further the time Americans work: a four-day workweek.

Amid progressive efforts to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour and other workers’ rights, some experts say the four-day workweek may be next in line for serious consideration.

Proponents argue that when employers allow an extra day of rest, workers will more likely to be productive in the time they spend on the job. Opponents of the concept say it is simply unattainable. Workers are being asked to complete more work with fewer resources, while many employees are paid by the hour.

Moreover, customers’ demands on the amount of services they receive means most businesses simply cannot afford to cut a day out of the workweek for employees.

While some companies, like Japanese retailer Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, allow some of its workers the option of working four 10-hour days as opposed to five eight-hour days to maintain the time worked, others argue companies should forfeit the time entirely. It’s not about the amount of time at work, they say, but the quality and amount of work completed.

Meanwhile, studies have shown that working fewer hours is actually more efficient and productive than working more hours. Workers motivated by the prospect of an extra day off are more likely to forgo typical workplace distraction or time wasted in favor of more focused work. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of the practice.

Pro: Improved Efficiency

Working longer doesn’t always mean working better.

According to a recent report about productivity by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, countries like the Netherlands show extremely high productivity numbers while logging fewer hours at work than workers from any other country. The data indicates that happy employees who work shorter workweeks are more productive than stressed employees who work overtime.

Marta Stefaniuk, a manager at Merge Design + Interactive based in Chicago, experienced this years ago when she was a temp worker at a New York-based firm that offered Fridays off as a form of “summer hours” three months a year.

“The two major benefits were efficiency and work-life balance,” Stefaniuk said. “People walked into the office and got to work. Everyone worked quickly and effectively to be able to have Friday off. Much less time was wasted on unnecessary chatter, fewer people were late and meetings ran more efficiently.”

The extra day off also helped employees’ mental health.

“The three-day weekend allowed for a longer rest, more time with family and friends, less of a rush to run errands,” Stefaniuk said. “People traveled out of town more because it’s worth it and doable in three days. And a change of scenery makes a huge difference on people’s mental wellbeing. On Monday, employees returned more refreshed and excited to get back to their routine.”

Other companies, meanwhile, have institutionalized the practice.

Cosmetic company Blu Skin Care based in Los Angeles offers all its employees a four-day workweek. “For some odd reason, we are programmed to believe that working longer and harder equals better achievements in the workplace,” said Zondra Wilson, the company’s president and CEO. “I beg to differ. I’ve found that working a four-day week increases productivity and job satisfaction.”

Pro: More Work-Life Balance

Wilson said the four-day week gives her employees more time at home to rest and recharge, making them more focused and productive while they are at work. Other countries have found similar success with this arrangement.

In the Netherlands, for instance, people work an average of 29 hours per week, according to the OECD report, while people in Denmark and Norway work roughly 33 hours per week. As a result, people in Scandinavian countries report less stress, more work-life balance and more overall happiness, the report shows.

Families with children in particular will see a reduction in child care costs in addition to being able to spend more time with their families. According to HR professional association the Society for Human Resource Management, four-day weeks help retain employees as well.

“Starting a four-day workweek again would tremendously improve the business practices and health of Americans,” Stefaniuk said. “People would get to spend more time with friends they care about instead of forming artificial relationships ‘work friends’ and employees would be healthier both physically and mentally. This in turn would save companies a good sum of money.”

Pro: More Loyal Employees

Millennials, now the most populous generation in the workforce, demand more flexibility in when and where they work. As a result, companies offering the flexibility of a four-day workweek may find it easier to please this generation of workers.

The return for employers is increased loyalty. Once millennials are awarded more flexibility, they’re more loyal. Ryan Carson, founder of Treehouse Island Inc., an online education company with 70 employees, wrote an article for Quartz extolling the virtues of the four-day workweek. He wrote that his employees will  hear other tech giants about jumping ship, but most of them are unwilling to give up their four-day weeks.

Con: Increased Out-of-Work, Online Activity

Not everyone is convinced that a true four-day workweek is feasible because of the fact that most workers, thanks to around-the-clock connectivity, are likely logging time on the job outside of work anyway.

David Lewis, president and CEO of OperationsInc, a human resources outsourcing and consulting firm based in Norwalk, Connecticut, offers his employees a flexible work environment in which most are logging fewer than 40 hours per week. However, he sees a major flaw in the four-day workweek concept, mainly because of workers’ increasingly work-related online activity.

“I would argue that since we are all connected, we are working seven days a week, at least for a few hours,” Lewis said. “The idea of going to a four-day week makes several assumptions that I don’t think are realistic. It assumes that the three days the employee is not working, they are also disconnected in total or mostly. And it assumes the employer will reinforce the need for them to recharge and actually cut off email and server access on these days.”

Con: Customer Dissatisfaction

The four-day workweek also might not work for companies whose customers rely on their service on those days. “The concept assumes that co-workers and clients and vendors are all going to view the employer positively when they are relegated to four days of access,” Lewis said.

This is actually the reason the state of Utah recently reverted back to a five-day workweek. It dropped down to four days for state government workers in 2008 and quickly saw a rise in productivity, employee satisfaction and morale in addition to savings on energy costs. However, customers grew frustrated that they didn’t have access to services on Fridays, and in 2011, to the chagrin of its workers, Utah went back to a five-day week.

Con: Compensation Complications

Workers who are paid by the hour are unlikely to be in favor of shorter workweeks. Similarly, industries like manufacturing require a certain level of output per day and per week are unlikely to embrace the shift. Take one day away, and the job simply won’t get done.

Retail, restaurants and utilities firms face the same dilemma. “Personally, I would love to have a four-day workweek for myself,” said Nedalee Thomas, CEO of water filtration company Chanson Water in Laguna Hills, California. “It’s always been my dream to have three days off. However, in my industry, which involves sales, technical support and shipping, a four-day workweek would mean more staff to cover more hours and cross training.”

“We’ve talked about it, and I’ve always felt that if my employees were open to something like that, I certainly would consider it,” Thomas added. “I do like to improvise, adapt and overcome. I’ve observed the lifestyles of other countries — for example, countries that take siestas in the warm afternoons. I like the concept of more balance between work and real life.”

Con: Employers Want Fewer Hours, Too

“Many employers falsely believe they can cram more work into a four-day workweek,” Blu Skin Care’s Wilson said. “In reality, Americans are already overworked. Balance in the key.”

Another problem with working the same amount of hours in fewer days is it can actually hamper performance, according to Laura MacLeod, who runs From the Inside Out Project, an HR consultancy based in New York City.

“If the same amount of work is expected, it can be extremely stressful to condense into four days,” MacLeod said. “Workers stay late and lose sleep, rush through tasks and projects or simply don’t finish all that was expected.”

Restaurant and bar staff, for example, often prefer to do overtime or double shifts, working 12 to 14 hours in a single day, as many are motivated by the time-and-a-half pay they receive in exchange for the extra work.

“That’s fine, except that a bartender or waiter toward the end of a double shift is usually tired, less engaging, less productive, and sometimes has the attitude that others should pick up the slack,” MacLeod said. “Customers and co-workers will usually get better service and treatment from a worker on a single shift.”

The same goes for nurses, MacLeod said, adding that in a health care environment, exhausted workers can actually be dangerous.

“Nurses also often work 12-hour shifts for three or four days,” MacLeod said. “Exhaustion in a high stress environment is risky for both patients and workers. Nurses and other hourly employees may also want this schedule because they have a second job or go to school. If this is the case, there is no rest at all, and workers are definitely on the way to burnout.”

It All Depends on the Workplace

While a four-day workweek is potentially beneficial when it comes to hiring millennials, reducing stress, increasing employee loyalty, performance and happiness, it’s not for every organization. Companies that have around-the-clock customer demands and pay employees by the hour are unlikely to find the prospect of the arrangement attractive.

Nevertheless, for companies that have the luxury of allowing workers flexibility in how and when they work, the four-day workweek is a lucrative benefit that could potentially attract and retain top talent.


AUTHOR:  Wendy Webb is a freelance writer based in Minnesota.

Reprinted from TALENT ECONOMY

Ten Tips for Hiring a Stellar eLearning Freelancer

Organizations looking for help with developing eLearning content would do well to tap into the fast-growing freelance market. It provides a wealth of skills and expertise that is cost-effective, flexible, and agile.

But with so much choice available, how do you ensure you hire the best eLearning freelancer?

I have pulled together this list of 10 tips on how to hire an eLearning freelancer, based on the experience of providing freelancers to fulfill eLearning projects all around the world.

1. Be ready to hire

This may sound like a statement of the obvious, but the freelance market is fast-paced, and freelancers with good skills are in high demand. That means you need to offer work that is ready to start in the next few days, not projects that are at the planning stage with a start date that could be six or seven weeks away.

2. Clearly define the task

Be crystal clear about the project and what the role is. This should provide some context about the organization, the scope of the project, and what you expect the freelancer to produce. This part of the process is critically important, as you might find you don’t need a freelancer at all—or that you need more than one. By defining the task, you define the resource capacity required.

3. Know your budget

The budget is an important filter that will help narrow down potential freelancers. Providing a range for the fee—whether it is a day rate or fixed-fee job—is a good approach, as it will mean you get interest from freelancers who will have differing skills sets and levels of expertise.

4. Set the expected time commitment

From the outset, freelancers like to know what the time commitment is likely to be for your job. It may be a few hours a week to a few days a week, and it may last a week or three months. Make sure you are clear about the immediate time commitment and whether it might flex over time. This information helps them to pick the right job, and it helps you find freelancers who can fully commit to the work.

5. Ask yourself: Do you need a freelancer on site?

Looking for people who need to be on site or at your office will dramatically reduce your choice of freelancers. So, be clear as to whether you really need freelancers to be on site, and if you do, then think about how much time you need them there. Requiring someone to be in the office one day every two weeks, versus every day of the week, will expand your choices.

6. Check out their portfolio

Gone are the days when freelancers could reasonably say that their work was hidden behind a corporate firewall or buried deep in a learning management system. Ask and expect to see one or more portfolios from a freelancer. They might have more than one portfolio showcasing their range of skills—instructional design and eLearning development, for example. Good freelancers will provide portfolios tailored to the work and skills you are looking for.

7. Set a test

You wouldn’t hire a permanent employee without assessing their skills—and the same rule applies to freelancers. Make sure to set an appropriate test or task based on the skills you are looking for. For example, a task for eLearning content development might be to make a change to the skin on a document and rewrite copy to be more scenario-led.

8. Get testimonials

Ensure you have success stories from the freelancer’s work for other clients. Freelancers need to provide evidence of the project or challenge, what they did, and the outcome. Expect to see examples of work from a range of clients—you want to see that the freelancer has worked for different organizations and across different industry sectors. Expect to see feedback from the person who hired them.

9. Communicate effectively

Set out how you would like to communicate with your freelancers for the duration of the project. This is especially important if they are based off site. Make sure you schedule regular project updates and ask your freelancers to provide a time sheet.

10. Define the tools you use

As well as setting out what tools you use for eLearning development work—such as Articulate or Captivate—make sure that you outline all the other internal communication tools that will be used on the project: Slack or Yammer, for example. This will help identify freelancers who are able to use your tools.

These 10 tips describe how to find the best eLearning freelancers for your next learning project. But remember, this is just the start of the process. Think about onboarding freelancers in the way you would onboard any full-time employee.

That means clear communication around when the job starts, what they need in advance of that happening, and what you need them to know. The more effort you put in at this stage of the process, the quicker your newly hired freelancer can get on with the job you hired them to do.



A Way for Workers to Trade In Unused Vacation

(Bloomberg) — Many Americans are notoriously bad at taking all of their vacation time. Rob Whalen used to be one of them.

In less than five years working at Cisco Systems Inc., he piled up 240 hours of paid time off. That’s a month and a half Whalen could have used to rest at home or relax on a beach. Instead he chose the office, where there was just too much to do.

Shortly after leaving that job, he was talking to a friend with an equally backed-up vacation account: “Wouldn’t it be really cool,” his friend said, “if you could use some of it to buy a hotel and airfare, and then go on a big two-week vacation?”

That gave Whalen an idea. Three years later, he is pitching PTO Exchange, a company he co-founded with Todd Lucas as a way to let workers tap the cash value of their days, weeks, and months of unused time off. The Seattle-based startup, which recently signed its first employer client, lets workers trade unused, paid time off for travel or contributions to 401(k) plans and health savings accounts.

“With so much time going unused, we realized that this is a benefit that needs to be redefined,” Whalen said.

Work hard, don’t play

When it comes to time off, Americans are in a perverse situation. The U.S. is the only advanced nation that doesn’t mandate paid leave. Workers in most European countries are legally entitled to about 20 days of vacation or more each year, according to a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Swedes are entitled to five weeks, while French workers get as many as 30 days.

In the U.S., by contrast, almost a third of workers get no paid sick leave, and more than a quarter don’t get any vacation time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. That’s prompted states such as California and cities including New York to require that employers provide paid sick time.

Meanwhile, those lucky enough to get time off frequently don’t use it. Less than half of U.S. workers said they took all or most of their vacation days in the past year, and only 22% used the bulk of their paid sick time, according to a survey of 1,600 employed adults by Harvard University, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and National Public Radio. And it’s not just the worker bees—reluctance to be away from the office often stretches into the executive suite, too.

Instead, Americans come to work sick, spreading infection and making themselves and everyone around them miserable. Or they burn themselves out mentally by not taking vacation. As a result, millions of days intended to give people much-needed time off either get forfeited or end up on company balance sheets to be cashed out by workers sometime in the future.

“There is workplace peer pressure to minimize using” time off, said Lonnie Golden, a Penn State University economics professor who studies vacation. A company might officially offer a generous vacation package, but workers know that their bosses and colleagues depend on them to be present and productive. The tendency among companies to keep staffing lean means there isn’t always enough people to cover when someone goes on vacation.

“You get these mixed signals,” Golden said. If you leave your work for a week or two, “you feel like [work] will just pile up.”

Most employees are allowed to carry over at least some time off from year-to-year. According to the BLS, 57% of civilian workers can carry over sick time, and about one in five can carry over an unlimited amount of it. About 55% of American workers can roll over at least some vacation time, but employees still end up forfeiting about 222 million vacation days a year, according to a 2016 analysis by Project Time Off, an advocacy group. Another 436 million days are carried over to future years, which means they become a financial obligation for employers.

About nine out of 10 companies pay out cash for unused vacation time when workers quit or are fired, according a 2014 survey of benefit specialists by WorldatWork, a nonprofit association of human resources professionals.

Expensive for employers

Employees accumulating huge amounts of paid leave can create problems for both themselves and their employers. Untapped vacation can become a large financial obligation that businesses must carry on their balance sheets. If workers have banked hundreds of hours of leave time, they often have just two options to unlock its value immediately: Go on months-long vacations—something likely to displease their bosses if it’s even allowed—or quit.

Whalen said a problem with vacations is the one-size-fits-all model: PTO Exchange lets employees view online the dollar value of their untapped vacation time. That can be used to book flights and lodging through a partnership with Priceline Group Inc., deposited into a 401(k) or HSA, or donated to charitable organizations. Employees can also give their paid leave to colleagues suffering from medical issues. “The benefits someone wants in their twenties might be different than those someone wants if they’re 30 or 40,” Whalen said.

His company is currently working to implement the system at its first client—a health insurer with more than 2,000 employees—and is in talks with a large retailer and several big human resource firms.

But rather than providing an advantage for employees, Penn State’s Golden warns that services such as PTO Exchange may exacerbate the underlying problem. It will provide further incentive for overworked employees to cancel vacations or go to work sick, he said: “I don’t think that’s a real positive development for our performance and productivity.”

Bottom of Form

If PTO Exchange’s clients are worried about this, Whalen said, they can tweak the plan so that only part of paid leave can be converted to benefits, forcing workers to use the rest with their toes in the sand. Toward this end, converting some time off to pay for travel could be a way for cash-strapped people to “have a good experience” instead of doing a low cost staycation, according to Whalen, who stressed that taking time off is “hugely important.”

Lucas agreed, saying PTO Exchange is “a vacation-first company.”



Public Speaking? Yes, You Can

After I’ve given a speech, people sometimes come up to me and say, “Boy, I would love to be able to give speeches for a living.” When I ask them why they don’t pursue that dream, they say, “Oh, I could never do that.”

But the good news is yes, you can. Public speaking is a learnable skill. Even someone who feels insecure in front of a group can learn to become a good speaker.

It begins with preparation. I learned from Tony Robbins, the famous motivational speaker, that if you want to overcome your fear and learn to do something, three things can impact your performance: your belief system, body language and routine.

Belief system: The late, great speech coach Dorothy Sarnoff used to teach her students to repeat these words before giving a speech: “I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad you’re here. I know what I know, and I care about you.” Repeating these thoughts changes your belief system. You actually become glad you are there. You know what you know, so you stop worrying about not being good. And when you care about the people in the audience, you lose your fear of them and your confidence soars.

If you allow negative thoughts to take over, your mind will respond to that. So plant only positive messages in your brain. Remember, your mind doesn’t know the difference between the truth and what you tell it.

Body language: Pay attention to how good speakers carry themselves. Most hold their shoulders back and heads high. I use a lot of hand gestures when I speak. Think of a time when you felt confident and productive. How did you walk? How did you act? It’s pretty hard to feel inadequate if you walk and act like you know what you’re doing.

Routine: Now look at your routine. A routine signals the brain that all is well. If I’m going to deliver new material, I practice it several times with friends or family. I ask for feedback, and try to think of questions audience members are likely to have. I use notes until the information becomes second nature. Just before I go on, I do a little deep breathing, a quick review of what I plan to say, then I imagine the audience giving me a standing ovation.

When I was 12 years old, I ran for president of the seventh grade and had to make a speech in front of the school. My dad coached me to start with humor to get everyone relaxed, including myself. So when I got called up and the audience finished applauding, the first thing I said was, “As the cow said to the farmer when the milking machine broke down, ‘Thanks for that warm hand!’” Everybody roared. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with my winning the election, but it sure felt good.

My dad also taught me to take what you do seriously but take yourself lightly. I still live by that advice. In February, I was asked to give the dinner keynote after the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. There were more than 2,000 people there from 100 nations. The last two people on the stage before I spoke were amazing: first a hilarious singing and dancing comedian, then Jordan Smith, the talented young singer who won the TV show “The Voice.” They both got standing ovations. Then I heard, “Now here’s our keynote speaker, Ken Blanchard.” Talk about intimidating.

I decided to take the humorous route, so I said to the audience, “If any of you have read ‘The One Minute Manager,’ you know the third secret is the One Minute Reprimand. I think I have to give one of those to the organizers who made me follow those last two performers!” I immediately got the crowd on my side so they were ready to hear my message — and I ended up getting a standing ovation, too. It was quite an experience.

People are there to learn what you know. So remember, it’s not about you — it’s all about your audience. You will serve them well by seeing yourself in your best light and projecting a confidence that lets your message shine. Your audience will benefit, and so will you.


AUTHOR:  Ken Blanchard is chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Cos. and co-author of “Collaboration Begins with You: Be a Silo Buster.” Comment below, or email


Reprinted from Chief Learning Officer magazine

Mentoring in the Digital Age

Formal training and assessments are a good first level of training, but what about learning needs that are ongoing, and more subtle? For decades, companies have looked to mentoring programs to provide a second level of training. The mentor, an accomplished, usually older, employee guides the less-experienced employee in the aspects of the profession that are impossible to master from a classroom experience or textbook—how to negotiate effectively, signs that you need to alter course in business strategy, or how to win over a hesitant sales prospect, for example.

Today’s digital and online technology can give mentoring a boost by making it easier to communicate and offer just-in-time advice. Seven Training Top 125 companies share how they are using the latest technology solutions to facilitate mentoring.

“Virtually” the Same Principles

Communication is easier than ever, but the same age-old principles of mentoring still apply. “At PPD, a global contract research organization, we are used to working in a remote, virtual world. Mentoring has evolved to reflect that, and has become much more virtual. But while there may be less face-to-face interaction, the premise of providing learning and development through a relationship of mutual trust is still critical,” says Ravenna Edgar, director of Organizational Effectiveness at PPD. She says the company uses social platforms to facilitate relationships, and uses Microsoft Lync “to enable rapid/responsive information exchange,” along with Lync/Skype video meeting facilities.

PPD has created a social network, for instance, for members of its Global Leadership Network (GLN). “The GLN is an exclusive virtual community that is open to alumni of our high-potential leadership development and executive leadership programs. As part of this network, GLN members identify specific areas of expertise or competency that they are willing to share with others who may not have had the same experience or exposure,” says Edgar. “Through the GLN virtual site, they make it known that any GLN member can reach out to them for mentoring in those identified areas.”

The great advantage of technology in mentoring is it allows you to take the old principle of providing guidance and hone it further to answer the exact question the mentee has at the exact moment the need arises. At Mariner Finance, mentors and mentees can communicate in a more targeted way, thanks to technology. “Mariner Finance uses a blend of technologies that drive education/ knowledge, skills, and socialization of interactions across the program. Creation of specific mentor/mentee sites, functions, and tools create a ‘club’ feel,” say Assistant Vice President of Instructional Design and Programs Austin Meredith and Senior Vice President of Learning and Development Jeff Casey. “Using the Web tools, supplemented by items such as chat functions, video, and face-to-face, helps drive interactions not only between specific relationships, but within the entire club. This approach creates a family of mentors/mentees that expands the boundaries of the older-style mentor relationship, allowing both parties to seek guidance and expertise in a quick and specific way.”

At Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, technology is the bridge that connects mentor and mentee to apply time-proven mentoring techniques. “We use a blend of technology to meet the various learning situations inherent in mentoring. We use videoconferencing through WebEx and Jabber,” says Senior Consultant, Learning Solutions Patricia Confar. “We have connect communities available through our learning technology. Many of our conference rooms are equipped with video technology. Teleconferencing is widely used, as well.”

But with the advantages of technology come potential challenges, too, Confar notes. “Mentoring in the digital age allows us to be more inclusive and connect with experienced associates across our entire company,” she says, “but we also need the skills and patience to use the technology to its fullest potential. We have to be more sensitive to the visual and auditory cues we depend on during face-to-face communication that can seem muff led through technology.”

Assessing Mentoring Success

At Navient, technology now allows the company to take the established mentoring values and approach, and evaluate it using modern means to gauge success, says Education Manager Carey J. Foss. Within Navient’s Customer Resolution Services (CRS) department, there is a structured mentoring program that gives employees the ability to work with new hires to help develop the skills necessary to succeed in their roles. Foss says the traditional approach of having seasoned employees help new hires in training is measured electronically. “The success of our mentors is measured by recording a number of key performance indicators (KPIs). Tracking is done through reporting software and use of Microsoft Excel,” says Foss, who points out the company also uses technology that enables mentors to get a real-time feel for how well their mentees are learning their lessons. “Our mentors also use y-cords (cords that allow mentors to listen in on their mentees’ production calls) to shadow the employees for whom they are responsible and provide feedback. Feedback is provided via performance discussions, and also is saved in the employee’s development file.”

The ability of technology to give mentors a snapshot of mentees’ progress at the moment when the mentees are working through challenges is significant, says Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a national staffing and recruiting firm. “Now with digital, there is more access to real-time feedback, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be in the form of scheduled meetings,” says Gimbel. “With Skype and Facetime, mentoring for role-play situations can be anywhere, anytime.”

To ensure an accurate assessment of a mentoring program, Gimbel recommends a structured approach. “Creating goals prior to implementing the program and having a proper way of tracking success metrics are crucial for the program’s long-term success. Goals can range from helping employees become ingrained in the culture, to getting them up to speed faster so they can hit the ground running. There should be a point person to manage the program, and hold people accountable.”

Technology Itself as the Mentor

In some cases, technology itself—in the form of the just-in-time information available online—can be the mentor, says Loubna Noureddin, director of Learning & Development Services for Miami Children’s Health System. “Google is one example of a ‘just-in-time’ mentor. You seek a better understanding of a certain topic, and the resources it offers are used by millions,” Noureddin notes. “While my example offers a simplification of the mentoring role, in this day and age, a mentor offers just-in-time support and advice to a mentee with minimal limitations of time and space. Digital media offers thousands of open resources for mentoring, and highly effective organizations have learned to tap into social media to provide mentoring to new employees, high-potential employees, and leaders.”

Miami Children’s Health System, which uses the Taleo performance tool and Microsoft SharePoint to manage its mentoring program, takes a multifaceted approach. “We offer a fullscope career mentoring program that seeks to support employees in developing their career goals and aligning those goals to the organization’s goals and growth,” Noureddin says. “Every employee who shows interest in self-development and career growth can self-nominate or seek the support of a career coach to better create a three- to five-year career growth plan.”

NIIT is another company that is optimizing technology’s ability to provide just-in-time mentoring in new and more visual ways. “The ability to have questions answered instantaneously through texts and e-mails by your mentor or peers who specialize in a particular area gives you access to a world of knowledge,” says Regional Vice President of Human Resources Sandra Pruitt. “Using online chats, Google, and various learning tools, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and YouTube, for research is a way of life now for all generations.”

Information sharing—the heart of mentoring— is more expansive than ever. “Teams are sharing information worldwide, from a variety of perspectives on a question or problem,” Pruitt says. “Technology has helped us become a global organization working in real time, solving real-time problems, and sharing a breadth of knowledge.”


  • Keep in mind that though there may be less face-to-face interaction in digitally facilitated mentoring, the premise of providing learning and development through a relationship of mutual trust remains the same.
  • Enable just-in-time mentoring in which mentor and mentee can connect at the moment a question arises.
  • Use videoconferencing technology on computers and mobile devices to allow for virtual “face-to-face” interaction.
  • Create internal social networks for training groups, such as for leadership development participants.
  • Set goals to track the success of mentoring programs, such as helping employees become ingrained in the culture or getting them up to speed faster so they can hit the ground running.
  • Use technology to enable employees to seek, or get matched with, internal career coaches— mentors— who can help them achieve their development goals.



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