Peer support
Training & Learning

Why a Culture of Peer Support Is the Best Way to Help Your Employees Grow

Many of us recognise the value of traditional mentoring for both individuals and organisations across the globe. In fact, a new survey reports that coaching and mentoring and learning from peers are the two most effective types of training to improve how people do their jobs.

But with so many types of mentoring, it’s difficult to know which option to go with. From reverse mentoring to group mentoring, there are numerous types with each having its own benefits. Mentoring isn’t a one-way street with each relationship being unique to every individual, that’s why it’s important to research which style of mentoring is best suited for your organisation.

In this article, we discuss why a culture of peer support, or in other words, peer mentoring, is essential to both organisations and individuals alike.

Why is a culture of peer support important for UK organisations?

Let’s start with the basics, what do we mean by peer mentoring? Simply put, peer mentoring is when two individuals come together who are at a similar level in their careers. Peer mentoring isn’t like traditional mentoring in which the mentor is generally a more skilled and knowledgeable professional, the main difference between these two methods of mentoring is that in peer mentoring both parties act as both the mentor and mentee within the relationship.

In this method of mentoring, participants come together to offer support and learn from one another, with each participant having different experiences and insights to contribute to the relationship. Like other mentoring styles, this style of mentoring is based on trust, however, it creates an environment where participants often feel more comfortable discussing their problems and challenges, particularly in the workplace.

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Mentorship asset

Scale your L&D program with peer mentoring.

An example of this style of mentoring being used within an organisation is two colleagues coming together from the same department, to share their unique experiences and skill set. Whilst both of the participants may be in the same career, every person has different strengths and weaknesses. 

For instance, if two team members of the marketing team enter a peer mentoring relationship, where one is better at copywriting and the other is more proficient at content creation, each individual can learn from one another to enhance their skill set that is relevant to their job role.

The benefits of peer support

Peer mentoring is focused on assisting two people to achieve their goals, combining their experiences and knowledge to overcome any challenges they may face. There are many positive outcomes of peer mentoring for both participants and organisations, some of these include:

Benefits of peer support for participants:

Enhancing your network

Mentoring is a great way for your employees to enhance their network because it provides the opportunity to connect with others who are either in a similar career or are looking to complete comparable objectives. One of the key benefits of peer mentoring is that because both participants are at a similar level within their careers and have the same interests, it makes networking easier. 

Networking is one of the most crucial parts of career progression and development, especially for more junior professionals. Taking part in a peer mentoring relationship allows both parties to connect with each other's network, which can lead to further possibilities in the future.

Improving your skill set

Skills are important no matter your employee's job title or industry. Whether employees are looking to improve their leadership skills or want to improve their skill set to enhance their careers, peer mentoring helps them accomplish their goals. An improved skill set leads to increased job opportunities, higher chances of promotion, and an increase in productivity.

Peer mentors come together to work towards improving their skills and whilst your employees may struggle with certain areas of their career, they can work alongside someone to continuously develop.

Nurturing your self-esteem and self-confidence

One of the most surprising but underrated advantages of being in a mentoring relationship is its power to help greatly improve someone's self-esteem and self-confidence levels. We're all human and for many of us, self-doubt is something that can hold us back from advancing both professionally and personally. Mentoring can help improve this due to the ability to connect with someone to share insights and ideas.

When we’re left with our own thoughts we can often shut down or feel intimidated to communicate our thoughts, which can lead employees to experience decreased levels of self-esteem and self-confidence.. Working with a mentor, particularly someone who understands the challenges your employees are going through within the workplace allows them to express their thoughts in a safe environment without the fear of being judged. 

One of the most surprising but underrated advantages of being in a mentoring relationship is its power to help greatly improve someone's self-esteem and self-confidence levels.

Gaining career advice and guidance

A key benefit of mentoring is that it allows individuals to not only learn new skills but also transfer knowledge. Whether your employees enter a peer mentoring relationship to focus on upskilling each other or to progress in their careers and share the latest insights and trends within their industry, each individual is focused on helping each other.

In peer mentoring, as both participants are at a similar level they are able to share advice and guidance to help each other develop and offer advice to help each other truly thrive within the workplace. Whilst most people may think it’s more beneficial to gain guidance from a more senior member within the organisation, it’s also incredibly important to support those with a similar experience because each contributor is able to grow professionally.

Benefits of peer support for organisations:

Decreased training costs

We all know organisational training can be a costly experience. As a result, many L&D leaders are looking for more cost-effective solutions. This is one of the many reasons peer mentoring is becoming an increasingly popular tool used by organisations.

Mentoring programmes and mentoring software are now making learning and development more accessible for a fraction of the price. Who knows your organisation better than your employees? When employees come together to learn from one another, not only does it help assemble a workplace culture that respects learning but forms a workplace that is focused on career advancement and growth. 

This is incredibly important for the new generation of employees, with 94% of employees noting they would remain at an organisation for longer if they were offered possibilities to evolve and grow within the organisation .

Peer mentoring means that your employees can learn the skills needed to truly thrive within their careers, learning with someone who may have different strengths and weaknesses. When both parties come together, they can improve their skill set, share ideas, and exchange knowledge, reducing the need for expensive corporate training programmes.

Enhanced recruitment and onboarding processes

When it comes to operating an organisation, one of the biggest and most common challenges people face is the recruitment and onboarding process. Peer mentoring is a great way to enhance recruitment within an organisation because when advertised, it gives a competitive advantage and makes the organisation look more attractive. 

Employees want the chance to progress within their careers and are looking to join organisations that invest in their employees. Showcasing your peer mentoring programme during the recruitment process is an excellent way to help attract top talent to your organisation.

After recruitment, peer mentoring can also play a vital role in the onboarding process. This process is one of the most important factors that determines the overall success of your employees. By offering peer mentoring to help onboarding within the organisation, you can make new hires feel more at ease, allow them to share their fresh ideas, and make the process run as efficiently as possible.

By offering peer mentoring to help onboarding within the organisation, you can make new hires feel more at ease, allow them to share their fresh ideas, and make the process run as efficiently as possible.

Improved, diversity, equality, and inclusion

When talking about mentoring to improve equality, diversity and inclusion within an organisation, we often look at reverse mentoring. However, peer mentoring is also a great way to help improve DE&I in the workplace. When two individuals in a mentoring relationship come together, they can share their knowledge, advise one another, and support each other to meet their goals and overcome any hurdles. 

This helps improve DE&I within an organisation as fresh insights can be shared whilst constructing a culture within the workplace that has a deeper cross-cultural understanding and that values new perspectives. Peer mentoring allows for those in underrepresented groups to receive support and guidance, in addition to increasing professional development opportunities. This method of mentoring empowers individuals to address and voice any workplace problems in a safe environment.

Better employee well-being

Peer mentoring can have a positive impact on the well-being of your employees, something that more organisations are now paying close attention to.Peer mentoring is based on trust, providing the opportunity for employees to come together on a more personal level and form a meaningful relationship.

When in mentoring relationships, in particular one with which both members are at a similar level, employees feel more comfortable sharing their own experiences and issues that they may be facing within the workplace. This means the participants work together to overcome challenges whilst feeling they have the support and guidance to address these issues.

This helps reduce feelings of stress or anxiety, because employees feel comfort in knowing they have someone to reach out to if things get overwhelming or too demanding to face, further helping reduce any feelings of workplace isolation.

Final thoughts

Whether you opt for a traditional mentoring programme or want to implement a peer mentoring programme within your organisation, there's no denying that mentoring is something that all organisations should be adding to their learning and development strategy.

There are so many diverse benefits of mentoring for both employees and an organisation itself, with each method of providing new and exciting opportunities for an organisation.

Implementing a peer mentoring programme could help boost your organisation to the level you want, helping it thrive and become more successful in the long term.