Workplace Coaching/Mentoring: Differences and Benefits - XCD

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According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report, 64% of Learning and Development leads have seen their own organisation’s learning culture grow stronger in the previous year, suggesting an substantial increase in internal education and training programmes in workspaces today.

In the midst of a competitive hiring landscape and almost ubiquitous retention troubles, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of companies are taking additional measures to promote their employees’ success. After all, one of the best methods for increasing staff retention is continual professional development, offering employees tailored support and specialised programmes which allow them to thrive in their chosen field.

Coaching and mentorship are more important than ever within an organisation’s growing learning culture. But how do coaching or mentorship schemes fit into your organisation’s wider learning landscape, and what exactly are the differences between the two? Read on to learn everything you need to know about coaching and mentoring and how they can contribute to the culture of ongoing professional development in your organisation. 

What is workplace coaching?

While mentoring and coaching are two terms that are often used interchangeably, it is important to remember they are different concepts with entirely unique approaches and objectives. 

Essentially, workplace coaching is the process of providing personalised guidance and support to employees (or “coachees”), all with the goal of enhancing their performance, skills, and productivity. A trained professional, often referred to as a “coach”, will work one-on-one with an individual or group to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Often more short-term and task-oriented, coaching is typically focused on improving specific skills. An example of coaching schemes within the workplace include:

  • Time-management coaching
  • Learner development (such as adapting to a new system or technology)
  • Team-building exercises 

Benefits of workplace coaching

Utilised correctly, coaching can offer an array of advantages, some of which include:

Improved performance

One of the most obvious benefits of implementing coaching schemes in your workplace is that it can help upskill employees and improve their performance in their roles. For example, management coaching for a new manager can help them better settle into their role, learn more effective leadership and feedback skills, and ultimately produce better results from their team. 

Staff satisfaction

It should come as no surprise that, when employees feel encouraged and supported to grow in their careers, they are more likely to feel satisfied in their roles. Coaching can also offer an excellent way for team members to identify their unique aspirations and develop the skills that they need to achieve their goals. When organisations invest in their people through coaching schemes, employees are more likely to feel engaged in their roles and with the organisation, which can also have beneficial impacts on retention rates.


Coaching can help boost communication between employees and their managers, as well as build lasting relationships among coworkers. By providing opportunities for feedback and dialogue, working with an experienced coach can help ensure that everyone in the team is on the same page and working efficiently.

What is workplace mentoring?

Workplace mentoring is a process in which a mentor (usually someone in a more senior position at the same organisation), will offer advice and guidance to an employee at a more junior level. The mentor will share their unique expertise and experience to help develop their mentee’s skills. While coaching is often more structured and focused on particular skills and results, mentoring is more casual and informal.

Benefits of workplace mentoring

Developing a strong mentoring program can be highly beneficial to the workforce, for reasons which include:

It is mutually beneficial

One of the best things about a mentoring relationship is that it works to enhance not just the skills of the mentee, but also of the mentor. For the mentee, they will gain valuable insights into their organisation, doing so with an individual who can both empower and motivate them. The mentor, on the other hand, has the opportunity to practise their leadership and communication skills, drawing upon tools such as active listening and communication techniques to give the employee the support they need to thrive in their field. This mutually beneficial professional relationship can be invaluable for the development of both individuals. 

Makes use of internal resources

Employee mentoring programs rely on experienced and knowledgeable employees within the organisation to serve as mentors. This eliminates the need to hire external trainers or coaches, which can be expensive. Similarly, mentors typically require minimal training, since they are already familiar with the organisation and its culture. This reduces the cost involved in training and onboarding new employees.

Improves employee performance

Mentoring can help employees to learn new skills, build upon existing ones, and gain valuable insights into their field. Learning from a mentor can not only increase a mentee’s skills and knowledge, but it can also motivate them to work towards progressing in their careers. In this sense, mentoring helps increase the effectiveness of employee performance. 

You may also be interested in: How employee mentoring programmes can improve retention and engagement

What are the main differences between mentoring and coaching?

Both mentoring and coaching refer to processes whereby employees are assisted in matters such as improving their performance, developing skills, and reaching long-term career goals. 

However, workplace coaching is more focused on specific goals and objectives, such as learning a new skill or overcoming a challenge. Mentoring, on the other hand, is interested in personal and professional development, which could include career advancement or leadership training, for example.

Does your organisation need coaching or mentoring, or both?

If your organisation is looking to build specific skills or address one particular issue, coaching may be more appropriate. If your sales team needs to improve their performance, for example, coaching can help them develop strategies to refine their sales techniques.

On the other hand, if your organisation is looking to support employees’ overall career growth, mentoring may be more beneficial. For instance, if you have new hires who require additional guidance in navigating their roles, a mentoring programme makes a fantastic way to help them build relationships with more experienced colleagues who can talk them through the process, teaching them about their organisations culture and values along the way.

Above all, It is important to first define KPIs and core objectives prior to implementing workplace coaching or mentoring schemes. Once this has been done, you can more comfortably determine your company’s goals, and determine how to move forward with them most efficiently.

How HR software works alongside coaching and mentoring 

Ensuring that your staff feel engaged and challenged in their respective roles is fundamental to employee satisfaction and retention. However, it can sometimes be tricky to determine which strategies are working, and how to refine them once they are implemented. HR software has become a popular solution for managing various aspects of employee experience, such as recruitment, onboarding, and performance. HR software can also work alongside coaching/mentoring programs to provide a more comprehensive approach to employee development. 

HR software can provide several benefits to your organisation, some of which include: 

Personalised learning and development opportunities

HR software with integrated learning and development capabilities offers employees an intuitive and accessible platform for enrolling in courses and upskilling. Using the easy-to-use learning platform, team members can gain the tools they need to succeed in their roles, boosting overall engagement and motivation.

With access to eLearning courses via the learning management system (LMS), employees can solidify their technical knowledge and skills, complementing the coaching and mentorship schemes that help solidify that learning. For example, employees may be enrolled onto a particular eLearning course by their manager to learn a particular skill, then their learning can be supported by a targeted coaching session where the employee can solidify these learnings.

Improves tracking of employee development

HR software can also help track and monitor employee development, whilst at the same time providing real-time data on employee progress, skills development, and performance. 

Workplace analytics provide useful insights into workplace mentoring and coaching schemes. With custom-reporting and dashboards to track progress, reporting and analytics software will help track detailed HR metrics such as turnover and retention rates, internal promotions, and productivity, providing useful insights into the impact your coaching and/or mentoring schemes are having on wider trends.

Time savings for HR teams

Powerful HR software that offers workflow automation and employee self-service frees up HR professionals’ time, allowing them to focus more of their attention on strategic tasks such as creating mentorship schemes that best suit their employees’ needs and interests. By eliminating time-consuming tasks and encouraging employees to take ownership of their own HR processes using the self-service portal, HR software allows human resources professionals to focus their efforts on great learning and development schemes that drive results.

Try it for yourself

XCD’s all-in-one software solution is designed to centralise all your HR operations into one place. With automated workflows and employee self-service capabilities, XCD HR and payroll software reduces the need for manual intervention from HRs, freeing up your time and reducing the risk of human error. By automating routine tasks, HR managers will be able to focus more time and attention on developing their most valuable asset, their workforce. 

If you are ready to try our XCD HR and payroll solution, book a free demo today or contact one of our friendly experts and we would be happy to address any queries you may have.