How to Run a Sponsorship Program for Employees

In this article, we discuss the definition of sponsorship/sponsorship programs, the benefits of an employee sponsorship program and how your organisation can run one.

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When it comes to career progression, there are many ways individuals can go forth to achieve their goals. Whether it be to gain a promotion or make new connections to further enhance their opportunities, we’re all looking for ways to continuously develop within our careers.

One of the popular ways organisations across the world are supporting employee development is through the implementation of an employee sponsorship program. Don’t know what that is? You’re just in luck. Throughout this article, we will be explaining what a sponsorship program is, the value it can bring to your organisation and how you can run one.

What Is Sponsorship and Sponsorship Programs?

Whether you work in personal development or are just interested in the area, we’ve all heard the terms ‘executive sponsors', ‘coaches’ and ‘mentoring’. But what is sponsorship, and what is a sponsorship program?

Simply put, sponsorship can be defined as a relationship between two individuals within the workplace, one acting as an advocate for the other and leading them in the right direction. A sponsor acts as an adviser for the sponsee, using their own network and reputation to help them get further within their career. A sponsor plays an important role in helping the other succeed and develop professionally.

Sponsorship programs can be defined as a formal program that an organisation puts in place to connect leaders within the workplace with new or junior staff members.

What Are the Benefits of a Sponsorship Program?

Many people fail to recognise the importance of running a sponsorship program. Until they know the benefits. When your employees thrive, so does your organisation. Investing in the development of your employees is the best investment an organisation can make, both short and long term. When it comes to the benefits of sponsorship, some of the most notable mentions are:

1. Increased Recognition

The role of a good sponsor is to share the accomplishments and achievements of their sponsee, with other senior members within the organisation. This is particularly crucial for underrepresented groups within the workplace, as sponsorship is an effective way to increase diversity in senior roles, within any organisation or industry.

When your employees feel recognised for their hard work and have someone actively rooting for them, they are going to feel more motivated and satisfied within their roles. Appreciated employees are happy employees.

2. Shared Insight

Sponsorship programs mean that your organisation is always improving their insight and gaining innovative ideas that will help the organisation improve overall.

Sponsors who are often more senior members of the team can gain a unique perspective from their sponsee. Sharing ideas and insight into factors that the sponsor might not have thought of before. Fresh ideas are important for any organisation as they allow new perspectives to be shared.

3. Networking

One of the most valuable benefits of sponsorship is that sponsees get the opportunity to develop and grow their own network. Sponsors typically have a much larger and more influential network, in which they can introduce their sponsee too. This is beneficial for not only the growth of the sponsee but also a good factor for any organisation. Improved relationships with clients and colleagues is always highly practical.

4. Personal Feedback

It’s human nature to want to know how well you completed a task. Having a sponsor means the sponsee can gain indispensable feedback to help them develop within their career, what they need to improve upon and the things they should keep doing.

Feedback is significant for development, and the good thing about sponsorship is the sponsor can also gain feedback and insight from the sponsee on how they might have done it if they were in their position.

5. It Motivates Employees

As mentioned, when employees feel valued and appreciated, in return they will be more motivated within the workplace. Increased motivation leads to improved satisfaction and employee engagement amongst your staff. When these are improved, as an organisation, you will see improved profit and production amongst your staff members. Higher motivated employees also lead to increased employee retention rates.

6. Promote from Within

Recruiting for senior roles is often a very time-consuming and expensive task, that most organisations would rather do without. However, whilst it’s still incredibly important to recruit from outside the organisation to bring fresh perspectives, an employee sponsorship program allows the sponsor to guide and advise the sponsee on how to be promoted from within.

Career development is critical for all employees, and a sponsorship program means employees feel they have a chance at potentially gaining the senior position they were aiming for.

How to Run a Thriving Employee Sponsorship Program

Running a sponsorship program may seem like an easy process, and whilst it’s not an incredibly hard task, it takes time and resources to ensure it’s successful. It’s not a one-time task, it’s something that needs to be sustained over time to ensure it thrives. That's why we’re here to help. When starting your employee sponsorship program, listed below are some things you need to consider:

Determine Your Organisational Goals

Before starting a sponsorship program, it’s critical to understand what you’re looking to achieve. Ask yourself what you look to accomplish and how you plan to do so. Whether your sponsorship program for example focuses on underrepresented groups within the organisation, you need to have clear goals in place to help build a formal process.

Understanding what you need to achieve, helps you identify and track the success of the program with ease, whilst giving you metrics you can track. It also gives everyone involved in the program a clear understanding of what is expected from them.

Have Leadership and Key Stakeholders Buy-in

An effective program within the workplace requires the attention of both leadership and key stakeholders within the organisation. When employees see more senior members of the workforce, advocate for the program, it makes them want to take part. Especially with sponsorship programs, where senior leadership play an important role, the more you have who want to take part, the better. It helps instil a culture that values sponsorship and career development.

Make Matching Matter

Matching is significant, remember that before starting your employee sponsorship program. When matching your staff members, make sure the matching is relevant to what they are looking for and want to achieve. The relationship will be unsuccessful if the wants and needs of the participants aren't respected. For example, matching a senior member of the I.T. team with a junior member of accounting isn’t going to be beneficial to the participants. Whilst they may learn new perspectives, unless the junior member is actively looking to change roles, there is more than likely going to be a better match for the individual.

Train Your Sponsors and Make Sure Expectations Are Explained

With any organisational program, training is a must. People aren’t born knowing how to be a sponsor, and helping your employees learn how to be effective sponsors will only ensure the overall success of the program itself. Whilst training might seem like a daunting task, your employees will be more enticed to join the program if they know they will be taught what they need to know before finding a sponsee.

It’s also incredibly important to clearly outline the expectations of both sponsors and sponsees, this way there is no miscommunication amongst staff members. It shows each participant what they need to do if they want the relationship to thrive, and gives them something to work towards. Detailing expectations, means both the sponsee and sponsor are held accountable for their responsibilities.

Showcase the Benefits

If you want people to join your program, you need to showcase the benefits of sponsorship and how it can add value to the participants' lives. Senior leaders in particular are wary of their time and how they manage it, so really showcasing the advantages for both their sponsee and themselves, is crucial.

Measure Results

As discussed, clearly outlining your organisational goals for the employee sponsorship program is the only way you can effectively measure the results of the program.

For example, If your organisational goal was to have more women in leadership positions, then you can easily measure the results. Measuring results is incredibly important as it allows the program administrations to see where they can improve and what’s working well within the organisation. It helps give an overview of the program itself.

Final Thoughts

Running a sponsorship program may seem overwhelming at times, but the results are worth it. Improving workplace culture, and allowing employees to flourish within their roles, is something all organisations should be striving for.

Having a good career and continuously developing is something most employees are looking for, however, sometimes there are hurdles that can get in the way. Without the right network and resources, many people find it incredibly hard to step up within their career, with the use of sponsorship, you can help change this for many of your employees.

If you want to learn more about how sponsorship and mentoring work together, you can request a free demonstration with PushFar, the world’s leading career progression and mentoring platform.

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