To stay afloat in the turbulent changing waters of our economy, every company needs to create a corporate vision and purpose that is taught, understood and embraced by all members of its workforce. This is the foundational premise behind why senior management must prioritize mentoring their junior employees.

Mentoring is about teaching other more than just what to do, but how to go about doing it and most importantly, why one needs to know how to go about doing what they’re supposed to be doing. When everyone in a company understands the purpose and vision of what they do, they will better understood how to do it, because they will understand why they are doing it.

That’s what workplace engagement is.

And workplace engagement only occurs in a corporate culture that prioritizes mentorship.

Going back to a previous blog about the USS Abraham Lincoln which is one of the largest and most powerful battleships in the world, without the strength of the entire crew, ships flounder. Without all hands on deck, ships sink. Our coastlines are littered with thousands of shipwrecks because the crews were not fully trained on what to do, how to do it, and why to do what needed to be done. So when the weather turned, storms came and the environment became hostile, ships sank. The same applies to corporate entities. If we don’t fully train our crews, we endanger the “ship” and run the risk of sinking whereby all hands go down with the ship when it files for bankruptcy. To survive and even better, to thrive, we need to create a corporate culture where “All hands are on deck” especially as it relates to the younger crew members who will one day raise in the ranks to become the officers and leaders of tomorrow. Training our people makes the difference between whether we either survive, thrive or dive.

The reason so many senior officers of Western businesses complain that young adults don’t embrace the kind of work ethic the veterans want to see, is because those in the power seats don’t invest enough in their junior crew members. Very few companies have a corporate culture where it’s a priority to ensure the firm’s vision and purposes are taught. Even fewer companies invest the time and resources to ensure these young adults fully understand how to become functionally engaged in the corporate environment such that they are equipped to fully execute their duties so that the company’s vision and purpose is fulfilled. So why do we hear those in management so frequently whine that the rank and file within their workforce is ineffective and non-productive, if the rank and file is not trained in what it means to work together synergistically so that (as the battleship metaphor would state) “All hands are on deck” ?

Let’s look back to our earlier article about the USS Abraham Lincoln. This Nimitz Class aircraft carrier has a crew of over 5,500 and the average age of the crew is just over nineteen years old. How do you run one of the most powerful battleships of the world with a bunch of teenagers? Because our military invests in young recruits. They have all been highly trained and are therefore highly disciplined. Nobody walks out of high school equipped to operate a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. That takes time, training, resources and budget allowances. If we only teach our younger employees how to perform a job like a robot, this bare-ass minimal investment in their lives won’t empower young people to properly and professionally engage in the critically important areas of human interpersonal working relations with their co-workers, customers, and bosses. If we only teach young people how to work like robots, then we’re were only going to see young people in the role of robots. When workers feel their only contribution is to be a robotic autotron, they lack a sense of purpose. That’s a formula for disengagement. That causes high employee turnover, and employee turnover is expensive. To incorporate a different metaphor, if we only see young employees as work horses, they will leave our companies for greener pastures.

Which is exactly what many Millennials choose to do; if they don’t find their work lives to be meaningful or engaging, they look for another place of employment. Innumerous socio-economic studies have proven that this kind of employee turnover costs a company big money. The bottom line suffers because the corporation gets caught in a vicious circle where, if they can’t retain existing employees, they have to retrain new employees. They start the recruiting process from square one by having to re-advertise, re-interview and re-train all over again. With raw recruits they then have to spend more time, more money and assign more personnel to teach the new hires just the basics “what” tasks to do, never getting to the “how” or the “why” and repeating the cycle of employee turnover caused by a lack of engagement on the job. It costs big money because these new employees won’t know the company’s standard operating procedures and therefore, are relatively inefficient, non-productive and in the big picture, non-profitable.

And yet so many other studies show that giving new hires the training to become a more holistic member of the crew is not an expense, it proves to be a wise investment for the companies that want to create a workplace culture where “All hands are on deck”. Managers and senior officers who understand the merits of investing the necessary time and resources to help young people (or any people) see the purpose and vision that makes their work meaningful, always experience a payoff resulting in huge dividends to the bottom line. Even the contributions of a bunch of 19 year olds can result in our businesses being battle-ready in our changing economic climate, enabling corporations and small businesses alike to be able to navigate whatever storms and struggles we encounter as we strive to reach our corporate destinations and achieve our corporate goals.

So let’s think about it…

We can’t complain that Millennials aren’t fully invested in the health and welfare of our companies, if we are not fully invested in the health and welfare of our Millennials.

Our coastlines are little with thousands of shipwrecks because the crews were not fully trained on what to do, how to do it, and why to do what needed to be done.