If you see mentorship as just another responsibility on your plate, it’s time to reconsider your viewpoint. Serving as a role model for a younger or less experienced employee can be a deeply meaningful way to reduce your stress levels while helping someone grow.
“Mentoring is one of the most enriching experiences we can have at work, and it’s very manageable if we take on the relationship with clear expectations and boundaries. The rewards far outweigh the costs, when done right,” Rebecca Fraser, M.A., a career coach and visiting instructor of psychology at Bates College, tells Thrive. If you still need a little convincing, take a look at the different ways a mentor-mentee relationship can help you thrive in the workplace — and help you manage your stress.
It makes your work more meaningful
When you lack a sense of purpose at work, Fraser says you suffer in a variety of ways, one of the most pressing being heightened stress levels. Taking the time to mentor someone is a great way to add another layer of purpose to your work, especially if you are helping them set, strive toward, and attain goals. “Most people find tasks that help others to be meaningful, and that’s certainly what being a mentor involves. When we engage in meaningful tasks at work for at least 20 percent of our work week, we are significantly less likely to burn out, want to leave our job or industry, or switch from full-time to part-time,” Fraser says.
It can make your schedule feel less packed
Research tells us that spending time on others can actually make us feel like we have more time on our hands. A study published in Psychological Science found that people have a greater sense of time affluence when they give time to others, as opposed to spending time on themselves or finding unexpected windows of free time. Furthermore, giving time to others can boost self-efficacy as well as willingness to commit to engagements in the future, despite having a busy schedule. It’s important to still stay in touch with your limits, though. “If we don’t set boundaries, we can easily feel taken advantage of and frustrated by the mentoring relationship. We might be unable to anticipate when the person we’re mentoring will reach out and need support, or feel like we’re solely managing crisis moments,” Fraser says.
At the end of the day, being a mentor shouldn’t come down to what’s in it for me? — but it can have just as many benefits for you as it does for the colleague you’re mentoring.
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