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Heng Leong Lim

DBA Graduate - 2015

Thesis title

Mentoring millennials in Singapore: How mentors are influencing protégé turnover intentions in the organisation


Andrew Parker
Purpose High employee turnover rates are detrimental to organisations, adversely affecting administration costs, productivity and functions. Existing research suggests millennials are leaving faster and in greater numbers than other generational cohorts. This is of concern for organisations in Singapore. My research seeks to understand three research questions. Firstly, I explore the relationship between the presence of a mentor and millennial protégé turnover intentions. Secondly, I look into the role of organisational commitment in the relationship between a millennial protégé and turnover intentions. These questions relate to the quantitative study. A third research question was formulated for the qualitative phase to explain the unexpected quantitative results; asking why millennial protégés with a mentor did not possess lower turnover intentions. Methodology & Findings A mixed method explanatory sequential design utilising paper based questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were used for this study. The quantitative results reveal that millennial protégés who possess a mentor do not have lower turnover intentions. However, millennial protégés who possess a mentor and have high organisational commitment display lower turnover intentions regardless of mentoring styles. The qualitative findings suggest that many mentors encourage their protégés to quit the organisation for better career opportunities. Contributory factors might stem from a lack of organisational direction, mentor accountability and mentor’s choice on the mentorship. I also find that most direct supervisors in Singapore double up as mentors, raising issues of transparency and accountability in the mentorship. Research limitations One limitation of this study is that respondents perceive the definition of a mentor differently. A simple but comprehensive definition was then crafted after studying 40 mentoring definitions. Another limitation is that the data came from protégé responses and not mentors. This was due to the lack of access to mentors. The accuracy of protégés’ perceptions of their mentors is a potential limitation; however, steps were taken to mitigate this. Practical implications Organisations need to provide direction on how mentoring is executed and the extent of the mentor’s role. This can be done through the initiation of formal mentoring structures or programmes. Mentoring training and support will help clarify their mentorship style in the organisation, reduce misunderstandings and provide mentor accountability. Importantly, mentors need to be recognised and rewarded for their efforts in helping the organisation manage these protégés. Value My findings offer a new perspective to North American based studies where mentoring was shown to lower employee turnover intentions. This study contributes to local mentoring research, a seldom studied subject but a highly relevant topic for Singapore.Keywords: Mentoring, Millennials, Generational coho