Return to Work Mentoring programme


Due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, recruitment to the Return to Work Mentoring programme has been postponed. We will publish new recruitment dates when we have further information.

Introduction Text:
After taking a period of extended leave, transitioning back into a role within a complex and changeable system can be a challenging, confusing and lonely process. To support this journey, we are offering you the exciting opportunity to attend an experiential learning event to learn more about Return to Work Mentoring.

The programme will be delivered in partnership with Charmaine Kwame, Senior National Programme Lead for Coaching & Mentoring at the NHS Leadership Academy and Nicki Seignot, Leadership Coach, Author and Return to Work Mentoring subject matter expert at Parentmentor. During this learning event you will gain a deep insight into this specialised area of mentoring as well as developing your own mentoring skills, focusing on themes of return to work transitions. You will gain an understanding of how to work within your organisation to create an internal capacity for return to work mentors, share your own insights and learn from other professionals. You will also have the opportunity to hear firsthand about the return to work mentee lived experience.

Dr. Belle Rose Ragins, an expert in mentoring, diversity and positive relationships at work, has long been examining the positive impact of mentoring on employees’ organisational attachment and the role gender and diversity plays. As Ragins said: “Changes that happen in people’s lives are not just left in threshold of one domain when you’re entering another. The presence of informal mentors helps people deal with life challenges that occur inside and outside of the workplace.”

Individuals take extended leave from their careers to focus on other areas of their life, for a wide variety of reasons.


  • preparing for the birth of a child
  • caring for family members
  • adopting a child or during a long-term fostering placement
  • to rest and recuperate during a period of ill health
  • to take opportunities to develop themselves personally and professionally
  • to adjust before/during or after significant life transitions e.g. gender reassignment, divorce, relocating home

(for this programme, extended leave is considered as a period of leave of 8 weeks or more).

Some of the biggest challenges individuals have reported when approaching their return back to work include:

  • Organisational restructures – changes to teams, existing professional networks and/or role function leading to uncertainty of where they ‘fit’ in the new system and how they can influence when their networks have changed significantly
  • Wanting to request a change in work pattern to support changes in personal life e.g. flexible working/job share but the fear of how this will be perceived and the impact on their career trajectory
  • How to address and prepare for any physical and emotional challenges when returning back after ill health
  • Adjusting to a changing identity e.g becoming a parent for the first time or gender reassignment
  • Identifying opportunities in how they can use new or developed learning from their time away and apply this to their role and organisation
  • Planning for the practicalities of returning back to work e.g changes in travel, breast feeding, work attire, managing energy

The quantitative research speaks for itself too. The much-quoted 2002 Harvard Business Review article ‘Executive Women and the Myth of Having It All’ painted a stark picture of the choices facing many US women making the choice to have children. The findings of this research still hold true today and are hugely applicable to the UK workplace.

The research showed the fact that for many women with a successful career – between a third and a half– having children just wasn’t a viable option. 33% of such women (business executives, doctors, lawyers, academics, and the like) in the 41-to-55 age bracket were childless, a figure that rose to 42% in corporate America.

This research supports the supposition that for those who do venture into motherhood or adoption, this type of mentoring offer is critical.  Whilst this example focuses on maternity, Return to Work Mentoring takes into account the unique needs of all colleagues at all stages of return to work transition.

Please note that Return to Work Mentoring does not replace any Organisational policies and procedures, it works to compliment them.