The Missing Wellness Piece In Your Work Life That You Need To Know About ASAP

Photo by Jennifer Brister

Whether or not you're on a traditional career path, you've likely heard time and time again about the importance of finding a mentor to help guide your journey. While there's no doubt that mentorship is important, the truth is that getting someone older and wiser than you to meet with you regularly to provide valuable advice can be difficult—and a little awkward.

The solution? Peer mentorship. According to experts in the field, the power of banding together with peers and colleagues is highly underestimated. "I'm not a wild believer in having a mentor that's super senior to you," former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief and Love Rules author Joanna Coles said on the Happier podcast recently. "I think your best mentors are your peers and colleagues. They’re the people that know whether you're working hard and good at your job…you tend to rise together and pull each other along."

If you're breathing a sigh of relief over not having to work up the courage to breathlessly ask that speaker at a panel to be your mentor while she's trying to eat her hors-d'oeuvres in peace, you're not alone: The peer mentor is having a moment. Here's why, and how it can improve your happiness in the workplace.

Why peer mentorship is so effective.

Alison Stone, LCSW, points out that while there's certainly value in having an older and wiser mentor, peer mentorship provides a unique kind of perk. "Peer mentors can boost workplace morale by facilitating better team communication and cohesion," she explains. "They may also positively contribute to the overall vibe and culture of the workplace. When we perceive our work environment to be a warm, welcoming place, we are likely to report higher levels of job satisfaction. Knowing that there is someone in our corner, so to speak, can be an invaluable asset."

Jamie Graber, a New York–based energy coach who founded the wildly successful raw food restaurant Gingersnaps Organics, attributes quite a bit of her success to peer mentorship. "My peers are incredibly successful in their careers, and their guidance made it a lot easier for me to make the transition from full-time restaurant owner to full-time energy coach," she explains. "Being around them for so many years, I was able to see behind the curtains and better understand how they got to where they are. I am able to lean on them."

Michael Taylor, co-founder of Strala Yoga and mbg Collective member, adds that mentorship has less to do with age and more to do with the experiences that inspire you. "Mentoring isn't just about sharing an accumulation of facts, of things that happened," he says. "Between books and the internet, facts are relatively easy to come by, so long as you find the right source. But a positive connection that inspires us can be something more difficult to find, and also more valuable."

How peer mentorship can make us happier.

Stone adds that peer mentorship also makes us happier and more energized in the workplace. "Peer mentors can boost workplace morale by facilitating better team communication and cohesion," she explains. "They may also positively contribute to the overall vibe and culture of the workplace. When we perceive our work environment to be a warm, welcoming place, we are likely to report higher levels of job satisfaction. Knowing that there is someone in our corner, so to speak, can be an invaluable asset."

Looking to cultivate stronger bonds with other women? Here's your guide to making friends as an adult.

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