Return to Work Mentoring programme for the NHS

Transitioning back into a complex and changeable system can be a difficult and lonely journey, which is why we’re offering NHS leaders at all levels an inclusive mentoring support package.


Our new Return to Work Mentoring programme is an exciting and dynamic mentoring scheme delivered by Charmaine Kwame – Odogwu, Programme Lead for Coaching & Mentoring at the NHS Leadership Academy, in partnership with Lis Merrick (MD Coach Mentoring) and Nicki Seignot (Coach Mentoring).


Apply as a mentee here

Why are we offering this to our NHS Leaders?

 We all know anecdotally that there’s a strong case for taking steps to retain talent, whether it’s ensuring that those returning to the workplace experience a smooth transition or providing colleagues with the support they need in order to make leadership decisions.


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.”


And 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, which 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 to be exact – having children just wasn’t a viable option. In fact, 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.


So it goes to show that for those who do venture into motherhood or adoption, for example, the type of support Return to Work Mentoring offers is critical.


Although this particular example concerns women, the programme recognises that all colleagues, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, may need the support it offers at some point in their career.

It’s designed for those who in the very near future, plan on taking the following types of leave:


  • Maternity leave: Giving birth and caring for an infant child/ren


  • Paternity leave: Leave immediately after the birth of a child/ren


  • Adoption leave: Leave to support the transition and care of an adopted child/ren


  • Carers leave: Providing long-term care for any immediate family member with an illness and/or disability


  • Fostering: To stabilise and support the early stages of placement for a looked after child


Return to Work Mentoring – Animated Video


How does this mentoring programme work?

There are two opportunities being offered on the first cohort of the programme:


  • Train as a Return to Work Mentor
  • Access the programme as a Return to Work Mentee


In phase one of the programme, both mentor and mentee will receive expert, in-depth training on the specifics of the programme before then embarking on phase two,  the actual mentoring element. Phase one starts once we’ve successfully matched both mentor and mentee.


The programme is delivered to support busy schedules and is run virtually through a simple yet effective platform. All participants will have the same experience and input as they would through face-to-face participation.


We’ll be launching the programme with ten mentors and mentees from March 2016 and depending on the needs of the participants, it’s likely to run for a duration of between 6-12 months, including a robust evaluation period. After training, participants will be fully supported through regular supervision and support sessions, along with a comprehensive knowledge hub to access further resources.


This opportunity is open nationally to all NHS Leaders within the system at all levels of the organisation. You don’t need to manage teams or individuals to qualify.

It is designed to address issues by offering support around:


  • Considerations when preparing to take leave such as handover and succession planning


  • Staying connected with the organisation while on leave


  • Considerations for transitioning back into the workplace after time off


  • Recalibrating one’s identity in the run up to, during and after a significant life change


  • Coping with and managing change


  • Getting a balance between personal and work life


  • Developing and maintaining resilience when facing career and personal pressures


  • Reconnecting and developing new networks


This is just a taster of some of the more common themes, but coverage will be unique and entirely  guided by the mentee.

What makes this programme stand out

The benefits of this type of support – to the NHS and individuals – can include:


  • Stabilised productivity and efficiency of the individual and team during the early months of returning back into the workplace
  • The positive impact happy and well supported leaders have on the patient experience and quality of care
  • Reduced sickness absence and OH referrals thanks to a smoother, better supported transition.
  • Greater likelihood of retaining diversity within the organisation

It is unique because it offers:


  • Bespoke programme delivered by the NHS to the NHS


  • Offers complete flexibility through the virtual delivery system


  • Fits around the requirements of the mentee from the weeks leading up to leave until they have fully transitioned back into the workplace

What we need from you

Timing is everything on this programme and we can’t always predict the numbers of staff who are about to go specifically on this type of leave. We’re asking for applications from all NHS leaders at all levels of the organisation who are interested in becoming either a mentor/mentee and will be taking the following types of leave over the next three-six months (for a minimum of three months) or who have experience of taking this type of leave within the last five years:


  • Maternity leave
  • Paternity leave
  • Adoption leave
  • Carers leave
  • Fostering leave


To promote diversity in the system the NHS Leadership Academy is running this programme and reducing the rate to increase access. All are encouraged to apply.


The cost for both mentor and mentee is £500 at a reduced cost for the 12 month programme.

If your organisation is struggling to fund the entire amount, please speak with us.

You should be able to commit to:


  • A one-day training session in January – delivered virtually. You’ll need uninterrupted access to the internet on a device with speakers, webcam and facility to type (full joining instructions will be provided but please notify us of any special requirements you have to support access)


  • Mentoring sessions (frequency to be determined upon need of mentee) for up to 12 months


  • Six/Eight weekly webinar support sessions or supervision sessions for up to 12 months


  • Willingness to participate in the evaluation of this programme


  • Openness to ‘pay it forward’ and use your experience of being a mentee to mentor somebody else within the organisation or offer train the trainer sometime in the future



To sign up for the webinar contact our National Coaching & Mentoring Lead, Charmaine Kwame.


To apply as a Return to Work mentor, click here.

To apply as a Return to Work mentee, click here.


Find out more about the programme or apply today

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