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Capitalize on the Mentoring Effect

"Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters."  That's the theme of this year's National Mentoring Month, and a worthy call to action for employers of all sizes at the start of a new year.  After all, mentoring is a proven way for employers to help others while also helping their company.  And when businesses help facilitate mentoring opportunities for youth with disabilities, the benefits are heightened even further. 

Why?  Because in order to effectively prepare to enter the workforce, youth with disabilities, like all youth, must have opportunities to explore their employment potential through firsthand experience and trusted relationships with older, more experienced workers.  At the same time, mentoring delivers pay-offs to your business by improving staff members' supervisory skills and job satisfaction and promoting a positive image within the community.

A new public service announcement (PSA) from the U.S. Business Leadership Network — a consortium of employers committed to driving business performance through disability employment — illustrates these benefits.  In it, we meet Dan, an executive, and Anna, his young mentee, who looks to him for support, counsel and constructive example as she navigates her new job and the world of work. 

While some large businesses have workplace mentoring programs that are formal, they don't need to be.  In fact, they can be simple, inexpensive and easy to implement, thanks to free resources, including a Workplace Mentoring Primer developed by the ODEP-funded Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion.  For example, you can consider organizing an onsite job shadowing day for local youth, participating in career events at nearby schools or granting employees time to volunteer through a mentoring partnership with a local disability nonprofit.  Within your own organization, you can also pair young employees with seasoned workers.  And don't forget to start planning now for Disability Mentoring Day, held each October nationwide. 

So in 2015, resolve to be someone who matters to someone who matters and help your employees do the same.  You'll quickly learn why mentoring works, at work — and how it benefits mentee, mentor and your business at large.

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