Return on Investment

You may or may not have to put a dollar value on your mentoring strategy but you will need to identify some success indicators. Here are a few thought starters.

  • Staff retention
  • Return to work after maternity leave or injury
  • Representation of target group in grade, roles, positions, locations
  • Percentage of applications for internal jobs or promotions
  • Number in the target group who won a position or promotion
  • Number who participate in training, education or development opportunities
  • Number of external (target group) applicants for jobs
  • Benchmark comparison, industry average, other organisations

Some of these are easy to put a dollar value. For example, mentoring programs specifically designed to attract and retain graduates. Recruiting graduates is expensive and there is no ROI if you lose your new person within two years. Gen Y has been notoriously career-oriented and mobile. Some organisations, such as government agencies cannot pay big dollars to get or keep graduates, so mentoring is a cost-effective strategy attractive to the career development focus of this group.

Likewise, many organisations are not ready for the exodus of experience when baby-boomers retire. Being mentors can help keep them, engage them and increase their productivity while facilitating knowledge transfer.

You can probably find some figures within your organisation or industry regarding the replacement cost of staff. Obviously it varies depending on the role. But a ballpark estimate of around 2-3 times annual salary per person could be a starting point. You can’t ignore this kind of money. That’s why one of our major banks was a trailblazer twenty years ago, with mentoring as part of a suit of programs for women on maternity leave. They realised that the cost of losing their talent and experience, long-term, was unacceptable and avoidable.

One way to evaluating ROI is to look at the cost of not having mentoring. Last year one of my clients launched a career-focused mentoring program. However, the GFC meant that the program coincided with a job freeze! Yet because of the mentoring, participants spent twelve months enthusiastic about their employer and confident about their future instead of succumbing to disenchantment. That’s how mentoring works!

The author of this article is Ann Rolfe, and was first published 08. march 2010 on