For every institution of higher learning, your employees are your most valuable resources. They are the face of your school. They work with students, liaise with industry, publish original research, and contribute to the greater community.
Any investment in faculty development is an investment in your college or university.
A faculty mentoring program is a particularly worthwhile investment in time, resources, and money. As mentors and mentees communicate, collaborate, and innovate together, you’ll see them grow as professionals and notice their programs flourish. Faculty and students will experience increased satisfaction, self-confidence, and success.
And those benefits are an incredible return on investment.
Here is a deeper look at the ROI of faculty mentoring:
Faculty turnover can result in numerous burdens on an institution of higher learning, and not all of them are obvious or financial in nature.
Betts & Sikorski (2008) provide an excellent overview of these costs. Direct costs are those related to hiring, training, and supporting new recruits, and also include the separation costs of the faculty who leave, such as potential legal actions, severance pay, and paperwork.
But there are other costs to consider. Opportunity costs refer to the consequences of faculty turnover, including a ripple effect with other faculty and then students leaving, the loss of reputation, and decreased quality of service.
Finally, indirect costs are hard to quantify but are still critical to the effective functioning of your school. These relate to productivity, morale, and climate, and can ultimately result in loss of knowledge and experience and low motivation.
Fortunately, faculty mentoring increases retention rates. For example, Rush University’s medical center attributes its retention rate of 64.5% to its mentoring program (Sandi & Chubinskaya, 2020). In an effective program, mentees develop a stronger commitment to their profession and develop short- and long-term goals that help them feel more satisfied with their careers (Bean et al., 2014).
They are also more likely to feel invested in their schools, pursue professional development opportunities (Dosa et al., 2020), and take on new leadership roles (Hundey et al., 2020).
There is a significant ROI for institutions of higher learning that invest in a faculty mentorship software program. It’s a significant step in increasing faculty retention, saving colleges and universities the numerous costs in time, money, and resources associated with turnover.
Mental Health & Performance
A study conducted by Adrien et al. (2014) explains how expectations placed on faculty at institutions of higher learning can vary, but usually encompass teaching, research, and services to the community. This range of requirements allows multiple internal and external variables to influence faculty performance outcomes.
The study continues by identifying some of the stressors that can impact faculty performance, specifically that newer faculty feel stressed by scholarly research expectations, and that faculty in general feel stressed by a decrease in effective face-to-face communication, and subsequent increase in isolation, that occurs with the integration of technology.
Adrien et al. suggest that faculty performance can become more effective by reducing this work-related stress. Some of their suggestions include training, wellness programs, and fostering rich communication between faculty.
Faculty mentoring programs are an excellent way to address these stressors and improve faculty performance.
According to Bean et al. (2014), the collaborative nature of a faculty mentoring program benefits both the mentors and mentees and opens up lines of communication and shared resources. Newer faculty report that they gain insights into work-life balance, and both sides of the mentoring partnership also experience increased confidence in their ability to perform their job expectations effectively.
Institutions of higher learning will benefit from increased faculty performance outcomes, making faculty mentoring a worthwhile investment of time and resources that improve teaching, scholarly research, and community service.
Student and Program Success
Student and program success can be a direct benefit of faculty mentorship. That’s because so many of the outcomes of mentorship improve your employees’ skills, resources, and mindsets.
New faculty may be experts in their fields, yet lack pedagogical experience to teach, create curriculum, and develop strong academic programs. But faculty mentorship provides the framework for new staff to gain this important knowledge from their mentors.
A mentorship program also encourages the exchange of ideas. Many faculty note a feeling of isolation and boredom (Hundey et al., 2020), which can be a barrier to innovation. But with faculty mentorship, staff communicate and collaborate with new colleagues and benefit from mutual sharing of ideas and experiences.
Strong support can also contribute to mentees successfully securing grants to benefit research and program growth. These grants are significant when compared to the investment in the mentorship program, with an ROI of 710% (Sandi & Chubinskaya, 2020).
The subsequent benefits to academic programs are significant. Faculty are successful, and their students are successful. The school’s programs gain a reputation and competitive advantage, bringing in more student interest and enrollment.
And accomplished professors, researchers, and scholars will also set their attention on these growing programs, seeking employment at these institutions of higher learning for their own career enrichment.
It’s hard to overlook such an incredible benefit of faculty mentoring, and it’s evidence of the ROI of implementing mentorship programs.
As you start to invest in your faculty, you’ll see the amazing returns in the success of your college or institution. Staff will feel more committed, increase their productivity, and build strong, sought-after academic programs.