Mentoring and the return to work

By Jan Murray on
Return to work and how mentoring can help

With unemployment at an all-time low and workforce shortages in many industries and professions, it has never been so important to smooth the transition back into employment for those who have taken a break.

Lots of people need to take periods of time off work to care for their children or, increasingly, a vulnerable parent. In some cases, this can be a significant career break. When someone has had a significant break from work it can be more difficult than you might think to restart a career.

Yet, people returning to work can have a significant impact on the economy. PWC recently reported that the UK losses £1.7bn per annum by failing to address some of the issues returners face restarting their careers.

Returners to work offer companies huge benefits in terms of the skills and expertise they possess, particularly during a time when the labour market is tight and these skills and expertise are in short supply.

Our mentoring programme is a valuable tool that can be used to help smooth the return to work, ensuring returners can get to grips with their new roles faster and feel supported in their transition.

There are a number of barriers that people returning to work after a career break can face, here are some of the most significant.

Career navigation

Receiving the support of a career mentor can be invaluable for work returners. A career mentor will help a mentee reflect on what they are good at and the skills they possess, helping them to refocus on how and where they could progress.

Career mentors will have a good insight into the careers and career paths available in their organisation or sector and help a returner navigate appropriate careers and help them plan from application to interview. Having a career mentor can help bolster a returning mentees morale, especially during any setbacks that may occur in the early stages of returning to their career.

Low confidence

It's amazing how quickly we can get out of the swing of things and how daunting it can be to think about returning to performing at the same level at which we left our career.

Mentoring is a great way to support an employee to gain or increase their confidence. Mentors can help mentees raise their self-esteem and develop a more positive outlook on life by championing the mentee and reinforcing the positive examples they have seen in the mentees skills and behaviour. Mentors can challenge any limitations the mentee feels they have in returning to the workforce and help a mentee to increase their self-belief.

Skills gap

When returning to the workplace it is likely that things have moved on with regards to work processes and technology, resulting in a returner potentially facing a gap in their skills and competencies.

Mentors can work with mentees to identify their skills, including skills they may have gained whilst on their career break and profile these against the skills required in the role. Mentors can then plan with their mentee how they will aim to close any gaps that are identified.

Work life balance

If someone is returning to the workplace following a break where they were caring for a child or relative they may still have out of work commitments that put pressure on their time and availability. A mentor can help a returning mentee understand the flexibility their workplace can afford them, as well as support a mentee should they feel under pressure in terms of their workload or guilty due to the limited hours they may be able to work.

With the support of a mentor, the mentee can lay out their concerns allowing the mentor to input their guidance on how the mentee can work with their line management to align expectations on when the mentee can work and what they can realistically achieve. This process can help relieve some of the stress and anxiety the returning mentees may be facing and subsequently enhance their performance.

Finally, mentors can help returning mentees broaden their network by making introductions and connecting mentees with other individuals who can help the mentee adjust to their return to work.

If you would like to find out more about how easy it would be to set up a mentoring programme within your organisation just contact us on 01625 251 055 or book a demo below.

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