After 16 years of working at HP in Canada, Carina Pereira thought about reevaluating her future. She was enjoying her role as a sales compensation business consultant, but felt it was time for a change.
Pereira was one of millions of employees who, spurred by the upheaval of the pandemic, found themselves questioning everything from where their career was going to whether they wanted a career at all. More than 47 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in 2021, and over 60% said the top reasons for leaving were low pay and lack of advancement opportunities.
“I was struggling,” Pereira recalled. “Should I go back to school? Take on a new role?”
Pereira signed up for HP’s Sales Operations Mentoring program, which connects mentors and mentees for a year to expand their networks and share skills and best practices. She was matched with Melanie Heron, from HP’s Industrial Print Organization, who was based in Maryland.
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Pereira and Heron, both of whom worked remotely even before the pandemic, met virtually several times a month, discussing potential career opportunities and exploring Pereira’s options. By early 2022, Pereira had applied for and landed a new position as regional plan design and engagement lead with HP.
“Melanie really helped me by asking me questions that made me think,” Pereira says. “One of the key takeaways was to get out of my comfort zone and not be afraid to challenge myself. She helped me get to the answer quicker than if I were doing it alone.”
As businesses struggle to recruit and retain employees — one recent study found that nearly half of employees are actively looking for new jobs — mentorship is emerging as a critical tool for employers. It can help employees build the confidence and skills they need to advance, whether they’re just starting out, taking on a new role, returning to the workplace after a hiatus, or are at another point in their career. And, these relationships can help both mentees and mentors build personal connections to their work in a remote and hybrid world.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in demand for these programs during the pandemic,” says Chantal Pierrat, CEO of platforms Emerging Women and Emerging Human, and partner in HP’s Catalyst initiative, designed to help guide women and employees from underrepresented communities into leadership roles. “With people working at home and being isolated from their coworkers, they’ve been a lifeline.”
Creating connections for women and younger employees
For Gen Z employees — and especially those who began their careers remotely — mentoring programs can help provide an understanding of the company culture and exposure to others in the organization they may not meet in their day-to-day work. In one study, 41% of Gen Z respondents expressed concern that they were losing the opportunity to be mentored because they were not working in the office.