Rewarding Good Behavior: Companies Succeed with Mentoring

Written by
Laura Francis

Mentoring Software Makes a Difference

Randy Emelo accepting awardRiver was thrilled to recently receive three awards for our modern mentoring and social learning platform. We received two awards from Brandon Hall Group: one for best advance in social learning technology and the other for best use of blended learning with our friends at EMC. We also received kudos from our clients who nominated us as an Elearning! Best Award of Excellence honoree in the social learning category.

Winning these awards is incredibly flattering, and it’s gratifying to know that our hard work is paying off. But this also got me thinking: What is it about River that has people talking? What is it that sets us apart?

While I could list many cool features and some awesome functionality that River offers, what I ultimately came down to is this: River helps companies solve real business problems. This is why River is winning awards.

For example, at EMC, they used River as a social learning and mentoring component of their Support New Hire Training initiative. They set out to build a learning environment where newly hired Technical Support Engineers could learn from one another, reference materials, and discuss concepts from the training course in the context of their jobs. They wanted their training to help employees solve customer problems quickly and efficiently—solving a real business problem for the company as a result.

They used River as part of a blended learning solution that combined online instructor-led training with structured social learning activities. River formed the foundation for the learning that occurred, creating a structured environment where trainers set learning goals, identified core competencies that would be impacted, and built a living library filled with resources and contextual conversations. The learning leaders at EMC planned a well-formed agenda that wrapped meaningful and purposeful social learning activities around the formal learning experience before, during, and after their 2-week training events. Blending learning in this manner allowed EMC to transform training into a more contextual and continuous learning process.

The company noted that passive attendance could not mask actual progression through the material when they used social learning, and their results prove that (see Table 1). They also saved roughly $270,000 by not having to pay for travel for people to attend a training course in person.

Table 1. New Hire Training Results

New Hire Training Results


Another example of a company using River to solve real business problems is Sodexo. Their award-winning mentoring program, Spirit of Mentoring, is renowned for its impressive results and commitment to a diverse and wide-reaching audience. Their Spirit of Mentoring initiative contains three programs.

IMPACT: This acclaimed formal mentoring program connects individuals cross-culturally and across business lines in paired relationships that last 12 months. In addition to the one-to-one experience, participants engage in a virtual community via River with the entire IMPACT group to share resources that hone their leadership competencies. Program metrics based on a longitudinal study show that 42% of women involved in IMPACT received a promotion, and several Return-on-Investment studies show a $2:$1 benefits-to-cost ratio for this program.

Peer2Peer Mentoring: This informal mentoring program uses River and is made available through Sodexo’s nine Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs). Examples include:

  • iGen – an intergenerational roundtable group that brings together peers from various generations to share with and learn from one another.
  • HONOR – a military network group that uses a buddy-system approach through mentoring to help transition former military personnel into civilian and corporate life.
  • PRIDE – an LGBT and allies group that connects partners for professional development and reverse mentoring.
  • WiNG – a women’s network group that uses topical mentoring in mentoring circles to share, learn, collaborate, and grow with colleagues.

Mentoring GroupExpertise in Action: These collaborative learning groups are formed based on trends associated with the development needs of managers. Using River, employees join groups at-will and direct their own learning and development. Topics of mutual interest include communication, strategic leadership, and networking, to name a few. During the first three months of the Expertise in Action program, there was a 62% increase in utilization of the Spirit of Mentoring platform. In addition, 85% of participants said they could use the learning they gained through the Expertise in Action experience back on the job.

These types of real-world results that impact business issues and the bottom line are truly why River receives awards. We help companies leverage social learning and mentoring with the goal being to solve business problems, or to reskill their workforce, or to encourage innovation, or to support diversity and inclusion, or any number of reasons. Each organization that we work with has goals they are trying to achieve, and they pick River to help them do so.

We are humbled by the awards we’ve received and very grateful to be recognized, but perhaps even more so, we are incredibly thankful to our clients who place their trust in us and who allow us into their inner circle so that we can help them solve their problems.

Want ideas on business issues you could address with River? Check out our suggestions here. And be sure to read Randy Emelo’s book, Modern Mentoring, available from ATD Press to read about more client success stories. Order your copy today!

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