INNOVATIVE REVERSE MENTORING Project Results in Corporate Career Development Success Model; MultiGenerational Employee Transfer of Knowledge about Social Media

Engages early career professionals as mentors to senior executive mentees and reveals surprising benefits transforming communication, culture and marketing programs.

A new published report from the Sloan Center on Aging & Work in collaboration with the Center for Work & Family, both at Boston College, on The Hartford’s reverse mentoring program revealed a new strategy in corporate success models.

The study concluded that engaging millennial mentors to teach and expand social media understanding and usage to corporate leadership mentees resulted in positive career development opportunities and innovative business growth benefits.

Reverse Mentoring at the Hartford: Cross-Generational Transfer of Knowledge about Social Media cites The Hartford’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Liam E. McGee, stating that he observed a need for the company “to become more fluent in social media, mobile computing, the cloud, and other digital technologies our customers and partners are using.”

He had previously heard of reverse mentoring at General Electric, and thought this innovative strategy could bring his company up to speed. The impetus from The Hartford’s leadership included three business goals:

• to reach new customers as insurance shopping habits were changing,

• to understand the new workplace needs of its workforce, and

• to improve the bottom line.

The reverse mentoring program began with a group of technologically-savvy employees who were at early stages in their professional careers sharing their knowledge of social media with The Hartford’s senior managers.

Company leadership began learning the value of a multigenerational workforce for sustaining its rank in the industry and its standing as an employer of choice.

In addition, the group was pleased with senior managers’ positive response to their suggestions and viewed it as a welcome opportunity to get to know and work closely with the company’s leaders.

Metrics support the program’s positive impact on the company:

• More than 50 mentees across seven states participated. Of 12 mentees who participated in the first wave, 80 percent rated the project “extremely effective/effective” for the business, and 97 percent rated it “extremely effective/effective” for personal development.

• Of the 12 mentors in the project’s first wave, 11 were promoted within a year of the program’s inception.

Corporate changes included new telemarketing via social media and mobile phones instead of telephones thus saving the company time and money; an update to The Hartford’s Electronic Usage Policy allowing social media usage at work, and a rising comfort with the company internal electronic communications network information sharing capabilities.

The report concludes that reverse mentoring is an adaptable corporate strategy and provides corporate leaders with a valuable generational perspective on topics not typically addressed within traditional organizational hierarchy. The opportunities for learning and open discussion provided by reverse mentioning are fluid and countless, and the new relationships formed by mentors and mentees can be inspiring and genuine.

Lastly, the report states, “Perhaps the most important gift of reverse mentoring is the affirmation in all sectors of a company and across generations that the next big idea can come from anywhere.”

About the Reverse Mentoring at The Hartford Study Each year, The Sloan Center on Aging & Work collaborates with its employee partners to select one strategic area of focus for a case study, conduct in-depth interviews, and publish a report on an innovative practice. In 2012, working in collaboration with the Center for Work & Family at Boston College, we chose The Hartford’s Reverse Mentoring Initiative which provided an outstanding example of what a successful mentoring program can accomplish.

Reference can be made by reading Reverse Mentoring At The Hartford: Cross-Generational Transfer of Knowledge About Social Media by Kim Lee DeAngelis, Ph.D.


About the Sloan Center on Aging & Work

Established in 2005, the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College promotes quality of employment as an imperative for the 21st century multigenerational workforce. We integrate evidence from research with insights from workplace experiences to inform innovative organizational decision-making. Collaborating with business leaders and scholars in a multidisciplinary dialogue, the Center develops the next generation of knowledge and talent management.

About the Center for Work & Family

Founded in 1990, the Boston College Center for Work & Family is committed to enhancing the quality of life of today’s workforce by providing leadership for the integration of work and life, an essential for individual, organizational, and community success. Our vision is that companies and communities will work together to ensure their mutual prosperity and the well-being of employees and their families.

The Center works with leading employers committed to creating workplace cultures that support the “dual agenda” of individual and organizational success.

Our corporate partners are human resource directors, many of whom specialize in areas such as Work/Life, Diversity, Human Resource Development, Organization Development, and Employee Health and Well-being. All share a common interest in implementing approaches that help employees find greater balance, increase productivity, and develop both professionally and personally.