Twice as many employees want a mentor than have one

Having a good workplace mentor is one of the most important factors in a person’s professional and career development. While many people focus on finding personal mentors, many neglect the importance of having a professional mentor to help with their professional development.

A recent survey by Olivet Nazarene University found that while 76% of workers think that mentors play an important role in their professional and career development, only 37% of workers currently have one. This data came from a survey of 3,000 people who were asked about professional mentor-mentee relationships.

Methodology:

Olivet Nazarene University surveyed 3,000 American workers who are currently employed full-time. The pool of respondents represents twenty-one industries, all 50 states and ages ranking from 21 to 68.

The survey focused on these core areas:

  • If people have ever had a professional mentor and if they have one currently
  • How experienced are people who have mentors?
  • The industries with the most mentors
  • How the mentor-mentee relationship started
  • The average length of the relationship
  • Average time spent meeting and talking each month
  • Whether or not people work in the same industry/company
  • Whether the mentor was also a manager
  • If the mentor was the same gender as you

The survey found that over 56% of respondents said they have had a mentor at one point in their professional career, however only 37% of people have a mentor currently. Oddly enough 9% of said they weren’t sure if they had a mentor as the relationship was unclear or not defined. One positive finding from the study is that people with mentors said they were slightly happier at their current jobs that those who did not have a mentor.

The survey also asked how experienced people are in their careers that currently have a workplace mentor. Not surprising to see that the highest number of people with mentors were junior or entry level workers with 57% of respondents reporting that they currently had a mentor. As people get further along in their careers, they are far less likely to seek out a mentor. The survey found that only 8% of senior-level employees currently had a mentor.

Olivet Nazarene University also looked to see which industries had the most mentors. Listed below is the breakdown of the industries with the most mentors:

  • Science 66%
  • Government 59%
  • Education 57%
  • Marketing, Advertising, PR 56%
  • Nonprofit, Social Services 55%
  • Engineering 52%
  • Professional Services 51%
  • Finance 45%
  • Skilled Labor, Trades 44%
  • Healthcare 43%

One of the more surprising takeaways from the analysis focused on how the mentor-mentee relationship started. Most people would assume that one of the two people reached out to the other about mentoring. As it turns out the overwhelmingly amount of mentor relationships developed naturally (61%). Only 14% of respondents asked someone to be their mentor and only 25% said they offered to be the mentor.

The average length of these mentor relationships lasts for 3.3 years although most people only meet with their mentors less than one per month. This obviously excludes instances where mentors and mentees are interacting daily. One a positive note most people who were surveyed said it was easy or very easy to schedule time with their mentor (59%). Most mentor relationships tend to be in the same industry 81%. Another surprising stat is that most relationships (66%) do not carry over across multiple jobs.