Return to Work Mentoring programme


Introduction Text:
After taking a period of extended leave from our roles, transitioning back into a complex and changeable system can be a challenging, confusing and lonely process. And more recently we're finding colleagues that have been redeployed temporarily to support the system wide response to Covid-19, are now transitioning back slowly to their substantive roles over the coming months. To support all leaders from all levels of the system, we are offering you the opportunity to develop ‘return to work’ mentoring skills which will enable a smoother transition for you and give you the ability to support other colleagues facing similar challenges.

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”.  Everyone has lived experience of navigating challenging life transitions and valuable learning they can pass on to support others with things such as:

  • Preparing for the birth of a child adopting a child or during a long-term fostering placement
  • Caring for family members who are unwell or recovering from ill health e.g Covid-19
  • Changing jobs, being redeployed into another role for a period of time or having to work remotely for the first time
  • Recovering from a period of ill health and/or adjusting to a long term health condition or disability
  • Losing a loved one
  • Choosing to disclose sexual orientation for the first time to loved ones, friends and colleagues
  • Separation and Divorce
  • Relocating to another country
  • Taking a sabbatical or opportunity to develop/reevaluate purpose

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

This programme will provide development to enable you to use your own learning and the learning of others, in a mentoring context, to address some of the biggest challenge’s individuals have reported from return to work transitions, exploring themes such as:

  • 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
  • Adjusting to ‘new norms’ from Covid-19 – physical distancing, remote working, shielding, impact and risk for BAME colleagues, managing uncertainty and home schooling
  • How to address and prepare for any physical and emotional challenges when returning back e.g after ill health, losing a loved one, separation from a partner
  • Adjusting to a changing identity e.g becoming a parent for the first time or gender reassignment
  • Identifying opportunities – how they can use new or developed learning from their time away and apply this to their role and organisation
  • Planning for the practicalities e.g changes in travel, remote working, breast feeding, work attire, managing energy

In addition, you will gain insight into this specialised area of mentoring as well as develop 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 first hand about the return to work mentee lived experience.

The programme is co-designed and delivered by Charmaine Kwame, Senior National Programme Lead for Coaching and Mentoring at the NHS Leadership Academy and Nicki Seignot, Leadership Coach, Author and Return to Work Mentoring subject matter expert at Parentmentor.

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