The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is offering a new program to help Hoosier employers develop their workforce and to keep employees engaged as more businesses embrace remote work. The program is a partnership with Indianapolis-based Engage Mentoring and is being implemented through the chamber’s Institute for Workforce Excellence.

Jason Bearce, Vice President of Education and Workforce Development for the chamber, says the program aims to help employees with career development by connecting them with mentors to help grow their skills.

“We believe this company-to-company mentoring program can be an important resource for our members to address the continual call to better attract, retain and develop their talent,” said Bearce. “Beyond that critical mission, employers are now, more than ever, looking for meaningful ways for employee engagement and inclusion. This program can be a powerful strategy to achieve that within their workforce.”

Bearce says the current pandemic and evolving workplace standards made this the right time to formalize and announce the partnership. “On top of all the normal challenges that employees and employers have, more are working remotely than ever before and this platform and approach provides a virtual connection between the mentor and mentee. We’ve heard from our members that they’re even more attuned to the fact that they need to find new ways to stay connected and engage with their employees, and we thought this could be a good tool in their toolbox,” said Bearce.

The program’s mentors and mentees meet via phone call or teleconference, providing the opportunity to establish and grow relationships with members of the business community who can help them with their desired set of skills.

“With our plug-and-play software, Engage Mentoring simplifies the mentoring process for participants and gives them convenient ways to connect and grow personally and professionally,” said Alison Martin, chief executive officer of Engage Mentoring.

Bearce says the program can also be beneficial for businesses committed to workforce diversity and inclusion.

“Some companies are not as diverse and they’d like to be, and when they try to become more diverse, they don’t always have those same peer networks for those individuals to interface with. [The program] provides another avenue for diversifying those connections for the employee as well as the company itself,” stated Bearce.

Bearce says the program is another step in the chamber’s efforts to improve the state’s “outstanding talent” pool.

“In our long-term, we can connect this to the other related initiatives we have. We’re really invested in helping to expand the number of work-based learning or internship-type opportunities around the state. These mentoring conversations could lead to those types of opportunities or vice-versa,” said Bearce.

The chamber says it is the first statewide business group to join forces with Engage Mentoring.

Through the partnership, the chamber says it is offering the program to its member businesses at a discounted rate. A free webinar is being held Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. where the chamber and Engage Mentoring will answer questions, provide additional program information and discuss the latest on the Indiana Vision 2025 plan.

Bearce says the chamber is hosting a webinar Thursday to discuss the mentoring program and Vision 2025.