The positive impact of mentoring on mental health


Mentoring supports mental health

1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health issues at some stage in their life. And in recent years, combatting the mental health crisis in the workplace has become increasingly important for business leaders. According to the World Health Organisation, negative work environments can lead to mental health issues for employees. So how can business owners and HR professionals seek to create more positive work environments and support their employees through mental health challenges?

Mind, the mental health charity, recommends a range of workplace adjustments when supporting those with mental health problems. These adjustments include flexible working hours, reallocation of some tasks or duties, and unsurprisingly, implementing a mentor or ‘buddy’ system. Many organisations have seen huge impact on employee health and wellbeing by implementing mentoring programmes, a benefit we wholeheartedly support here at Grasp. Aside from the obvious benefits of mentoring, such as career progression and on-the-job support, mentors provide mentees with a reliable and supportive trustee. 

So, how else does mentoring support mental health?

  1. A shift in perspectives 

A well known benefit of mentoring is career progression. Mentors can support mentees develop the skills they need to advance in their career, whilst also helping them make a clear plan of action for how to get there. But how does this impact mental health? 

Structure and routine bring with them a whole host of mental health benefits. In fact, researchers have found that routine can have far-reaching psychological benefits, including alleviating bipolar disorder, ADHD, and insomnia. By helping mentees focus on the long-term goal, it can implement routine and structure to their current day, and in turn relieve some of the side effects of mental health challenges. 

  1. Reduces isolation 

Loneliness is often connected to mental health problems. And although it isn’t a mental health condition in itself, loneliness and the feeling of being isolated is often felt by those suffering with mental health problems. As such, helping to overcome loneliness and isolation is a sure-fire way to improve the mental health of employees. 

Setting up peer support and mentoring programmes for staff with lived experience of mental health problems, is a great way to overcome this isolation. Mentoring provides mentees with a significant companion (or multiple companions, if you implement group mentoring) in the workplace, who can give trusted, reliable advice to mentees – and support them through any work challenges they may face. 

  1. Reduces workplace stress

Workplace stress affects 79% of the UK workforce, which amounted to 12.8 million sick days in 2018-19. This stress, or anxiety, related to work is a huge problem for many employees, but it can often be overcome with mentoring programmes.

In fact, mentoring is said to reduce stress for both the mentors and mentees. Mentoring provides an opportunity for mentors to impart their knowledge and guidance to the mentee – impacting the greater good of the business and as such reducing their workplace stress. Whereas mentoring provides mentees with a reliable sounding board for workplace woes, and thus similarly relieves their workplace stress.

So, how can you offer mental health support to colleagues, peers and mentees?

Although we know that mentoring can alleviate mental health issues; it is sometimes a taboo subject to tackle. With many not knowing how to best provide support and guidance to those suffering with mental health issues. But simply checking in with your colleagues, peers or mentees can sometimes go a long way. So here’s our 6 step checklist on how you can check in with others. 

☑ Give them your undivided attention. Oftentimes mental health issues come with a feeling of being a burden. And it takes a lot for people to open up about their struggles. So the worst thing you can do when somebody does open up to you, is become distracted and turn your attention elsewhere. 

Ask open ended questions and do not probe too much into their responses. It’s very important that the person suffering with mental health issues shares as much, or as little, as they’re comfortable with about their struggles. 

☑ Practice active listening to ensure you’ve truly understood what you’re being told. In these situations, it’s often a good idea to repeat what they have said back to them, to ensure you’ve thoroughly understood. 

Leave your personal emotions at the door. Sometimes you will not agree with what your colleague, peer or mentee is saying. But if they’ve chosen to open up to you – it’s best not to challenge them on what they’re saying. Instead, provide a supportive ear and give the best advice and guidance you can. 

Know your limits. It’s very unlikely that you are a mental health practitioner, and as such, you must know your own limits. If the mental health problem at hand is too large or serious for you to deal with – provide help to the person by helping them seek the relevant professional help.   

It’s very important to protect your own mental health in these circumstances. If you feel that listening to someone else’s struggles is impacting your mental health, please do reach out to someone who can help you and your mentee.

Ask “how are you?” twice. This is a campaign from Time to Change, that we wholeheartedly support here at Grasp. If you believe a friend, colleague, peer or mentee is ‘bottling something up’ and needs to talk, you can open the door to the conversation by asking “how are you” – twice. All too often, we automatically respond to “how are you?” with “I’m fine” or “I’m good, how are you?” without honestly answering the question. By asking a second time, you give the person you’re talking to the opportunity to alter their answer; and answer honestly. 

Aside from mental health support, mentoring is a great way to increase employee morale and boost company culture. But your programme must be future-fit. Learn more about how you can ensure your mentoring programme is ready for the future, here.

Three ways to support employees returning to work


back to office

After 14 months of furlough, remote working and lockdowns, the time has finally come to start considering the return to the office. And those who are in charge of planning this return have a lot to consider. How will you reconfigure your office to aid social distancing? Will you stagger start and finish times? Will you bring your organisation back one team at a time? But whilst making these considerations, many overlook an important factor in returning to work: the emotional impact it will have on our people. 

Research shows that up to 63% of the workforce now believe the physical office is unnecessary, and perhaps more worryingly, 25% of UK employees said they would resign from their current role if they were forced to return to the office in a post-Covid world. So with employees content working from home, it’s imperative that we consider the impact returning to the office will have on our people. 

In this article we will share the top three considerations you should make to ensure you’re supporting your people sufficiently when reopening your office doors. 

1. Consider a hybrid approach

There are many benefits to having your employees all under the same roof, such as collaboration and socialisation with colleagues. But how many of your employees really need to be in the office to work productively? Research from McKinsey shows that in advanced economies, up to 25% of the workforce could work from home between three and five days a week, without any loss of productivity. 

It’s said that workers in the UK spend an average of 57 minutes per day commuting to and from their office. Since the onset of the pandemic and mandatory working from home, our people have been able to reclaim that time to use as they wish, increasing their work life balance. It’s therefore unsurprising that they do not want to return to old ways and sacrifice their new, more flexible lives. 

To achieve the ‘best of both worlds’, why not consider a hybrid approach to working? Allowing your people to work from home for a portion of the working week. This will maintain a more flexible working style, whilst still achieving the benefits of office working. And you won’t be alone in this approach, huge tech giants such as Salesforce, Facebook, Google and Amazon are set to adopt a hybrid approach to working. 

2. Open communication channels 

The easing of lockdown measures is likely to have a diverse range of effects on your employees. Some may be excited and ready to jump head-first into life ‘as normal’. Others may feel stressed, concerned and anxious about the easing of lockdown, and are hesitant to return to normal too soon. It’s important that you support all of these emotions as you prepare for your people to return to the office. 

To adequately support your people, you must open the lines of communication and create a supportive, empathetic working environment. One of the most effective ways of doing this is providing open, anonymous channels where employees can air their concerns. Anonymous channels allow your people to be truthful and frank about their opinions – without the fear of being judged or hurting anybody’s feelings. This ensures that you are receiving a true, accurate reflection of how your people are feeling about returning to the office (and how they feel once they are back). This allows you to iterate and adjust your office environment and policies, to ensure the return to work is as smooth as possible,

3. Implement mentoring or buddy schemes 

The pandemic has caused a significant increase in the number of people reporting to feel lonely. In fact, in a survey conducted in November 2020, 24% of people said they’d experienced loneliness in the past two weeks. Whilst you may opt to phase your return to work, or implement a hybrid approach, this might exacerbate the feeling of loneliness for some of your people. For this reason, implementing mentoring or buddy schemes is a great way to ensure your people feel supported on their return to work and reduce associated stress. 

Mentoring programmes reduce stress for both mentor and mentee, by providing a supportive environment for both parties to air their concerns and discuss any worries they may have on their return to work. What’s more, opting for a structured or guided approach to mentoring means that regular check ins will be booked in advance, ensuring that no employee falls under the radar and suffers from isolation. 

The truth is, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to returning to work

Whilst making all of the considerations above, it’s important to remember that what works for your organisation, may not work for another – and vice versa. In fact, what works for one of your employees may not work for the next. So, it’s extremely important in these turbulent times to remain agile and to listen to the needs of your people. They will be the single best source of information when it comes to what will work in making your ‘return to work’ as easy as possible. 

The ultimate TV guide to mentoring


TV guide to mentoring

Communication. Collaboration. Development. Mentoring helps to establish the key connections in a working life that can define a career. But whether it’s Mister Miyagi’s empathetic training, or Yoda helping Luke to fulfil his early promise, what makes the perfect mentor? And what key mentoring skills can we learn from popular culture’s most influential characters?…

Mary Poppins: creating a culture of communication

Mary Poppins: creating a culture of communication

Understanding your audience is the cornerstone of great communication, and this centres on listening to their needs. The all-singing, all-dancing nanny, Mary Poppins’ greatest asset was her capacity to listen. Realising that the rebellious children just need someone to hear their concerns, Mary Poppins provides the attention they crave. Similarly, their father’s failure to show love was simply a failure to find anyone to communicate with.

Mary Poppins’ communications through song don’t just provide levity, they’re a way of expressing her empathy for the children’s fears in a language they’ll understand.

Coach Carter: defining your goals

Coach Carter: defining your goals

A mentoring relationship cannot thrive if both parties aren’t on the same page. What are you trying to achieve from the sessions? Is there clarity on both sides? Despite being hired to train an unsuccessful basketball team, Coach Ken Carter made it clear from the outset that he prioritised his team’s academic success. Not only did he require them to commit to a 2.3 grade point average, but he literally locked the gym and forfeited games when the players’ side of the bargain was not being maintained. In highlighting the importance of his players’ grades, Coach Carter put their personal development before his own short-term success and redefined the school’s culture. How can you use mentoring to define your company culture? What values do you want your organisation to rally around?

Rupert Giles: the importance of chemistry

Rupert Giles: the importance of chemistry

A mentoring relationship often involves two people from very different walks of life. However, the beauty of great mentoring is the capacity to connect in spite of the superficial differences. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the American, book-shy, wannabe-cheerleader-teenage girl is tasked with saving the world under the watch of a stuffy, middle-aged English librarian. Yet whether it’s personal development or averting Armageddon, success will usually hinge upon an indefinable chemistry between the mentor and mentee.  This cannot necessarily be pre-determined, but also relies on a willingness from both parties to give the relationship a chance. Giles helped Buffy to understand her importance to the world and she duly fulfilled her destiny. A great mentor helps the mentee to understand their importance to the company and how everyone in an organisation benefits from their self-development. This requires the sort of empathy and communication skills that transcend social differences. 

‘The Queen’s Gambit’: the value of multiple mentors

‘The Queen’s Gambit’: the value of multiple mentors

A mentee will often define their mentor as the person who nurtured their development and recognised their potential before anyone else. But great mentoring relationships are symbiotic with both lives enriched through the lens of two unique perspectives. In The Queen’s Gambit, Mr Shaibel discovers Elizabeth Harmon’s talent for chess, while Elizabeth renews his love for the game and changes his outdated attitude on who can and can’t play. In addition, Mr Shaibel uses his experience to introduce Elizabeth to people better-placed to showcase her talent. In a climate of open communication, successful mentoring allows a mentor to see how their mentee is being used in an organisation and where their talents might best be served. 

The Queen’s Gambit also makes the case for multiple mentors and how these key figures correlate with the different stages of one’s life. As Elizabeth follows her talent and achieves success, she enlists the help of the friends, rivals and lovers she meets along the way. This is literally played out at the end when they group together to help her defeat the Russian champion. In any organisation, everyone knows something you don’t and great mentoring can be a form of teamwork as knowledge is shared across all levels. But mentoring shouldn’t be limited to the same two individuals and must be flexible enough to change in accordance with the mentor and mentee’s needs.

Deloris Van Cartier: cultivating individuality

Deloris Van Cartier: cultivating individuality

A mentor may have knowledge and experience to impart, but can they also help the mentee to understand themselves better? Can they create an environment that unlocks something the mentee hadn’t realised about themself? In Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Deloris Van Cartier helps a troubled community find their voice through singing. However, while the film is a testament to the power of collaboration, it also embodies the importance of individuality. Crucially, if a mentor can help a person in an organisation to recognise their own individual strengths, this will ultimately benefit the team as a whole. And when this is played out across an organisation, this can only lift the company to new heights.

Whether it’s saving the world, inspiring a community, or fulfilling a destiny, the catalyst for greatness are the unseen individuals who see it before everyone else. The ones with the vision to recognise potential, the empathy to connect and the communication skills to say the right words at the most opportune time. Who are the mentors in your organisation? And which key collaborations can unearth the talent that’s just waiting to be discovered?…

Is mentoring part of your talent mobility strategy?


Talent mobility and mentoring

You’ve spent time, money and energy creating the best possible team for your organisation. You’ve made sure you’ve attracted the best, top-performing talent. And you’ve developed a company culture that is second to none. But there are still skills gaps in your teams.

Picture this: Your L&D team needs a graphic designer – but doesn’t have one. Whilst your marketing team’s graphic designer is twiddling their fingers due to a lack of work. But due to office-politics and your organisation’s structure, you get a freelance graphic designer in to help your L&D team. While leaving your marketing team’s graphic designer bored senseless.

This is perhaps an exaggerated description. But it’s likely you’ve found yourself in a similar situation before. And you’re not alone. It’s such a common problem in organisations that the phrases ‘talent mobility’ and ‘internal talent marketplace’ are becoming increasingly common in the business world.

What is talent mobility?

Talent mobility is matching the skills of your people, to the departments in your organisation who are demanding those skills. Regardless of the employee’s division or job title. If you have an eLearning designer who is fabulous at web design – and your marketing team needs help, they can be matched and fill the skills gap. It really is as simple as that.

By embracing talent mobility in your organisation, you are not only ensuring heightened productivity across the board. You are also providing a workplace that allows your people to grow and flourish – which of course contributes to a better workplace culture.

So, why should mentoring be part of your talent mobility strategy?

Mentoring programmes are a great way to uncover untapped potential in your people. By building a trusting relationship, the mentor will be able to see the talents that lie within their mentee, and champion them throughout the organisation. But this alone isn’t enough. You need to uncover a way to take these mentees with the skills you need and plug them into the capacity gaps in your organisation. Which is why mentoring programmes that are powered by smart technology are key to your talent mobility strategy.

Step one: Skills matched mentoring

Skills matched mentoring is one of the most important reasons mentoring should be part of your talent mobility strategy. Mentoring technology can allow those seeking a mentor to find individuals who have the skills they want to develop. Then they can learn these skills from their mentor – until they are proficient themselves.

The reason this is of such critical importance to your talent mobility strategy is that it allows your people to tap into skills that perhaps are not in their typical day-job. And as such, unveils these talents to their mentor, and the wider organisation. It’s these skills that are critical to internal talent mobility – and will be the crux of an effective talent mobility strategy.

Step two: Highlighting skills (and skills gaps) to HR

Using mentoring technology to facilitate this skills matching process brings with it an additional benefit. It highlights these skills to the HR team, who are also likely in charge of the organisation’s talent mobility strategy. This clear insight into all the skills your organisation holds, gives your HR team a launch pad to kick-start their talent mobility strategy. Which would not have been available if skill matched mentoring was not in place. In the same ilk, it will also allow your HR team to see where there are clear and obvious gaps in your in-house skills, and thus allow them to plug these gaps (on a short- or long-term basis).

Plus skills matched mentoring ensures the reliability of the skills. By allowing your people to embark on mentoring programmes which enhance their skills, you are ensuring that these skills are developed and nourished in the right way for your organisation. You have a first hand champion of this individual, reassuring you that they can do the task at hand – and as such have a quick route to high levels of productivity.

Step three: Facilitate non-linear career progression 

One of the main reasons organisations embark on talent mobility programmes is to ensure talent retention. Oftentimes, individuals will move on from an organisation seeking new challenges and opportunities. By offering these experiences in-house, you are developing a group of high-performing individuals that truly understand your organisation’s goals. But to do this you must ensure these people not only have the skills required, but also the confidence to progress with a non-linear career path. And this is where mentoring steps back in. Mentoring programmes boost confidence and build resilience in mentees, and as such will enable them to embark on this career journey. And as such should be included throughout every stage of your talent mobility strategy. 

Kick-starting talent mobility 

The world is embarking on a fourth industrial revolution. This revolution is automating our lives and our workplaces – and as such is bringing with it a skills gap crisis. Now is the time to create a talent mobility strategy that is underpinned by an effective mentorship programme, ensuring both your people and your organisation are future-proofed. 

How mentoring programmes reduce workplace stress



If you knew there was a crisis happening in your organisation that was causing poor productivity and ruining your workplace culture, what would you do? Would you investigate the root cause of the problem? Would you put policies in place to help your people overcome the challenge at hand? Would you speak openly about this crisis with your senior leaders? All the best business leaders would say ‘of course’ to these questions.

But there is a crisis happening. And almost half of UK organisations do not have a policy in place to help their people deal with it. That crisis is workplace stress. In fact, 79% of the UK workforce report commonly experiencing stress in the workplace, amounting to 12.8 million sick days taken in 2018-19. This issue of workplace stress is not only damaging for our people, but for workplace cultures and productivity too.

So how can HR take charge of this ongoing crisis? And reverse the impact of workplace stress amongst their teams? Often organisations will head straight to wellness programmes, enforcing policies and management training to reduce stress in the workplace. And overlook the one strategy that can empower people, boost self-esteem and give bespoke, personal support to employees: Mentoring programmes.

What causes workplace stress?

Understanding how mentoring programmes can help combat workplace stress starts with exploring what causes this stress. The leading causes of workplace stress are said to be office politics and poor communication (37% and 34% respectively). These are topics which may well be tackled with typical stress-busting policies. Such as improved communications between departments and management training. But in third and fourth place were causes in which mentoring programmes can help to squash:

  • The performance of others (e.g. junior members of the team) – 33%
  • The respondents own personal performance – 31%

So, with 84% of leaders saying mentoring helped them become proficient in their role faster, and 69% saying it helped them make better work-related decisions – it’s time to consider mentoring programmes as a way to combat workplace stress. 

Implementing mentoring programmes that tackle stress 

It’s likely that in reading this article so far you’ve considered how mentoring programmes can reduce a mentee’s workplace stress. And it may shock you to discover that mentoring programmes actually reduce stress for the mentee and their mentor. In fact, research shows that mentoring programmes raise self-awareness, boost confidence and help to develop professional relationships for both parties.

How mentoring programmes reduce mentee stress

So how do mentoring programmes combat workplace stress for a mentee? Likely more junior in their career than their mentor, mentees will face many challenges at work. The first time they come up against these challenges, they’re likely to feel overwhelming and intimidating. In these times of need, their mentor can step in and give advice, support and encouragement. Immediately reducing stress and anxiety in the mentee and improving their emotional health.

Often when imagining mentoring relationships we incorrectly picture someone extremely  junior in their career. But picture this instead: the mentee is somebody is taking their first steps into management. They have a team member that has potential, but is not performing. Who do they, the new manager, turn to for support and guidance? How can they get the most out of their team? Do they overthink and worry? Do they turn to your organisation’s digital learning platform? Or worst still, the unreliable resources of Google?

Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for the individual, and the company as a whole, if a mentor could step in? To give unbiased support, guidance and advice to the first-time manager? To provide tried and tested approaches that may help the manager overcome the problem at hand?

Mentoring in this instance, when compared to other workplace learning, provides the most effective, impactful form of learning. It is bespoke and tailored to the mentees needs, from a trusted adviser that understands their unique situation. 

How mentoring programmes reduce mentor stress

The above is a typical explanation of how you’d imagine a mentoring programme to help reduce stress. The mentor provides guidance and support to the mentee based on their own experiences. Helping the mentee to get to a successful outcome quicker than if they were to go it alone. So how can a mentoring programme reduce workplace stress for a mentor themselves?

The third most common cause of workplace stress is worrying about the performance of others. This is often a circumstance that an employee has little, or no, control over. However, by enrolling as a mentor, the individual may feel as though they are contributing to making a change. Scoping the junior members of the team to be more productive in their roles. Which in turn, makes the job of the mentor much more rewarding (whilst also combatting the worry of poor performance of other team members). In fact, research shows that mentoring of junior colleagues can reduce anxiety and improve the mental health of mentors themselves.

How mentoring to reduce stress improves overall workplace culture 

It’s a safe assumption to make that if your employees are less stressed they’ll enjoy their work more. And are more likely to facilitate the growth of a better workplace culture. But with ‘poor workplace culture’ hitting spot 8 of the top 10 reasons employees feel stressed at work – it’s not enough to assume. 

Provision of support, guidance and collaboration through mentoring programmes is a great way to boost your workplace culture. But also on the list is aligning your values with your people and facilitating open communication. Although perhaps not your first thought, mentoring programmes help with these too. Mentors should empower their mentees to speak up and communicate better. They should champion their mentee and their strengths throughout the business. And they should also feedback their mentees’ concerns to HR or senior leaders. Speak to your mentors and ask them how you can better align your organisation’s values to those of your people. This clear communication path will only bolster your workplace culture, and in turn reduce workplace stress in the long-run. 

Mentoring programmes prioritise your people

Each reason listed in the most common causes of workplace stress stem back to issues of worry. By embarking on a mentoring programme that makes your people feel supported, encouraged and empowered to do their work – you’ll be well on your way to combating workplace stress. And by giving your mentors the opportunity to impart their knowledge and wisdom to more junior members of the team, you will not only be making their roles more fulfilling, you’ll also be making your organisation as a whole, more productive. 

What makes a great mentor?


how to be a great mentor

When you imagine a great mentor, who do you picture? What qualities do they have? What makes them stand out? 

The truth is, what makes a great mentor is a very personal question. And the answer can differ from person to person. Despite this, there are some key features that all great mentors possess. Many of which came up repeatedly in season 1 of our ‘The Mentors Who Made Me’ podcast.

In each episode we interviewed a successful individual about the mentors in their lives that made them who they are today. Throughout these interviews, it became clear that although “What makes a great mentor?” is a very personal question, there are four key attributes all great mentors have.

The four key attributes of a great mentor

1. Active listening

Unsurprisingly, the importance of being a good listener came up in almost every interview we hosted. Mentees want to feel heard and understood – and listening to respond isn’t adequate in alleviating these concerns.

Chris Aleong, Head of Emerging Markets and Endoceutics listed listening as an important skill of great mentors, only second to setting expectations. In his interview, Chris commented that “mentors should not always be eager to talk and give advice. Instead, they should take the time to listen and understand what the mentee is trying to get from the conversation.”

Nathan Chestney-Stagg, VP Vault Strategy Europe at Veeva Systems echoed this sentiment, highlighting that mentors do not always need all the answers straight away: “It’s very empowering and concise when someone asks you a question to say ‘hey, that’s a really good question, I’m not so sure I have a great answer for you right now, let me think about that for a few minutes and I’ll come back to you”.

2. Empathy

Empathy is one of the most important workplace skills and a lack of empathy can be actively damaging for business. So, it’s unsurprising that it’s also one of the most important attributes of a great mentor. The ability to empathise with a mentee, based on shared experiences, can truly strengthen mentorships.

Leȉla Bazzi, Lawyer, gender equality advocate and founder of Lean In Morocco Chapter highlighted the importance of empathy in mentoring in her interview, explaining that a great mentorship can develop into a great friendship, with the mentor guiding the mentee throughout their career.

3. Selflessness

Becoming a mentor is a selfless act. You are giving your skills, knowledge and advice to your mentee, without expecting anything in return. Of course, there are instances where reverse mentoring comes into play. But on the whole, mentors get little back from the relationship. So being selfless and fully-invested in a mentees’ growth is paramount to being a great mentor.

This selflessness has been likened to that of parental pride. In fact, Donna Peters, Career Coach and Host of The Me-Suite Podcast says “A great mentor is fully invested in [their mentee’s] success, and when [the mentee] achieves it, they have a sense of pride because they feel it and own it as much as [the mentee] does”.

This attribute of selflessness allows mentors to put the needs of the mentee first. Each mentee will enter the mentorship with a unique set of needs, and the mentor must have the skills to cater for those needs. At Grasp HR, we’ve categorised a mentee’s needs into four core groups: Spark, Learn, Support and Network. Each of these needs require a different style of mentoring. A great mentor will be able to identify how they’re helping their mentee, or perhaps where they’re falling short.

4. Authenticity

Another attribute repeatedly mentioned in our podcast series was mentor authenticity. This ties in nicely with Nathan Chestney-Stagg’s comment about active listening, when he stated mentors do not need to have all the answers right away. Mentees are looking for a ‘real’ person to guide them and help them in their career growth. They aren’t expecting a superhero to sweep them off their feet and give them all the answers.

Most of all, mentees want someone they can trust. If they can tell you’re not being authentic, their trust in you will diminish quickly. Mariana Machado, VP Global Cultural Transformation at Accor commented that the more authentic and honest, the better the mentor: “Because you are being honest with [the mentee] and pushing them to listen to the truth about what you see about them”.

These four attributes of a great mentor came up time and time again in our podcast interviews. But the truth is: nobody is a perfect mentor for all mentees. The best mentoring relationships are when the mentor’s style matches the mentee’s needs. It is only then that the attributes listed above enhance the relationship. 

Finding the perfect mentoring relationship isn’t easy. So, if you’re looking at becoming or finding a mentor, or developing a programme in your organisation, take a list to our ‘What makes a great mentor’ podcast episode for more insights and tips from our wonderful Season 1 guests.

The importance of mentoring for women in the workplace


Mentoring for women

Gender inequality in the workplace isn’t a new problem. Although there’s been significant progress in creating gender equality in the workplace, our workforce is still unequal. Women are paid less than their male counterparts and there are so few female CEOs in the Fortune 100, that you can count them on one hand. However, there are now more women in employment than ever before. So how can we ensure these women are empowered and supported in their roles? 

Creating real equality in the workplace requires more than just reviewing the gender pay gap. We must create a culture where women are valued members of the team and effective mentoring programmes are a great way to ensure this happens. 

Why mentorship programmes are beneficial for women

The benefits of mentoring are well reported, and have been accepted by organisations worldwide. In fact, almost all Fortune 500 companies now have active mentoring schemes. But when it comes to the professional development of women in the workplace, mentoring can bring with it a whole host of additional benefits, including:

Confident and competent leaders 

When identifying future leaders amongst our workforce, we tend to hone in on the outwardly confident individuals. The ones that stand out, speak up and make sure their voice is heard. However, this confidence does not necessarily translate to competence. If we want to increase the efficiency of our workforce, whilst also increasing gender diversity in our teams, this must stop. But overcoming the habit of favouring confidence over competence is only one half of the battle. We must strive to develop more confident and competent employees. 

Confidence is cited as being one of the key barriers of women obtaining leadership positions. In fact, a recent study showed that men apply for a job or promotion when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women will only apply if they meet 100% of them. This highlights a real need to build confidence in our female employees, and mentoring programmes are a great way to do this.

Opens doors for promotion 

Women are notoriously bad at self-advocating. But studies have shown it is imperative for women to proactively self-advocate in order to advance in their careers. So as HR professionals, we must help the women in our business develop the confidence to self-advocate, but also provide comfortable situations for them to do so. And mentoring is a great circumstance for just that.

Being mentored by somebody in the organisation, who’s likely more senior and has more influence, allows women the opportunity to show their talent and skill set in a safe, comfortable environment. This will allow the mentor to not only encourage the mentee to speak up and self advocate, but allows them to become a champion for the mentee too. This opens doors for new opportunities or promotions for the mentee, whilst also developing their self confidence. 

Changing perceptions

Studies have shown that character traits that are stereotypically feminine, such as sensitivity and concern for others, made someone less likely to be seen as a leader. Conversely, assertion and dominance, which are stereotypical masculine traits, were attributed to strong leadership. However, women actually scored higher than men in most leadership skills. So how can we change this perception in the workplace? 

Although overcoming this problem lies with challenging the unconscious bias in our people, mentoring programmes can offer a strong helping hand. Mentoring enables people to form stronger, wider networks within the workplace. And as such, they are meeting and communicating with people they might not have otherwise. This will enable the success of existing female leaders to be more widely recognised in your organisation. But it will also mean that future female leaders become more visible due to their wider networks, creating more internal champions for these individuals. 

So why aren’t there more women-focused mentoring schemes?

With clear benefits to women mentoring and being mentored, it may leave you wondering why there aren’t more women-focused mentoring schemes in the workplace. And the answer to this question is complicated, but it can be broken down into three categories:

Why do we need women-focused mentoring?

Are we mentoring to change behaviours and enhance skills? Or are we mentoring women to enable them to deal with the working world? And if the latter, then why aren’t we addressing the crux of the problem and improving our workplace culture instead? Diversity in the workplace is not about conformity. It’s about inclusivity and challenging unconscious biases in our workforce, embracing our female leaders for the unique and widely diverse qualities they bring to the organisation. 

What makes a good leader?

Following from the above, we also need to challenge (and change) what the perception of a good leader really is. The Management Advisory Service lists a person’s ethics, knowledge, experience, and communication among the key attributes for a successful leader. However, when we seek out future leaders in our organisation, we often look for the overly confident, outspoken individuals. These skills do not correlate with the skill set of a successful leader. We must challenge this habit and allow our people to be themselves and flourish in their careers – without conforming to these deep-rooted stereotypes.

Too few women in leadership roles

Just 8% of women are in leadership roles, compared to 14% of men. This is a shocking statistic, and is one final reason why women-focussed mentorship schemes do not frequently exist. Simply put, demand for women mentors far outweighs the supply. 

There are two ways organisations can overcome this challenge. The first, and most obvious way is to employ more women in leadership roles. The second, is to ensure more diversity in mentoring relationships. Many mentors suffer with ‘mini-me syndrome’, with 71% mentoring people who are the same race and gender as themselves. This must change if we want to improve equity and inclusion in our organisations. Mentoring schemes are a great way to bring people from different backgrounds together – and this should apply to men mentoring women, and vice versa. 

Should you integrate women-focused mentoring into your organisation?

As we’ve discussed, there are a number of benefits for women-focussed mentorship schemes. They are a great way to support and encourage more junior women to progress in their career, and help them develop the confidence needed to do so. However, this comes with its limitations. If only a quarter of your leadership team are women, but over 50% of your workforce are women wanting to be mentored – you have a logistical problem on your hands. Focus on your culture and use your mentoring schemes as a way to bring people together, and close the diversity gap in your organisation.

Mentoring in 2021 –
Is your program future fit?


Is your mentoring program future fit?

2021 is well underway and our Covid-friendly Christmas and NYE celebrations feel like a distant memory. But many are still planning their employee engagement and development strategies for 2021 and beyond. 

2020 saw both our personal and professional lives change in unprecedented ways, and now looking to the future looks considerably different than it did this time last year. In the past year we’ve embraced a more digital life, took a stand against inequality and in many ways, accepted that the younger generations have a lot to teach us about living in a modern world. 

So, do you think your existing mentoring program is future fit? Will it stand up to any more unprecedented challenges we face in the coming years? Here’s some of the areas we think you should consider when future-proofing your mentoring programs:

Virtual mentoring 

Unsurprisingly, virtual mentoring is at the top of our ‘future fit’ list. Organisations around the world adopted remote working when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and very few have returned to the office since. But this shouldn’t mean the end to your mentoring programs, it’s just time to adapt. 

Successful virtual mentoring relies heavily on an effective remote workplace culture. And developing this requires facilitation to ensure your people are comfortable reaching out, chatting and building relationships virtually. This can come in many guises, such as:

  • Ensuring the right communication technology exists in your company
  • Encouraging communication between colleagues (as they once would have around the office watercooler) 
  • Promoting a knowledge-sharing environment, openly connecting people when they have something to contribute (or learn!)

If your current mentoring program relies on face-to-face interaction, have a look at the areas above, and consider how you can create a welcoming, virtual environment for both mentors and mentees to flourish. This will future-proof your mentoring program and ensure its on-going success, no matter how long we’re working from home for!

Diversity, equity & inclusion

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have been rising up the priority list for organisations in recent years. However, its importance has skyrocketed as 2020 opened our eyes to the sheer imbalance in our world and the importance of equity. A future-proofed mentoring program will have DEI at its heart, for two very important reasons.

One of the biggest challenges organisations are looking to overcome with DEI policies lies with the ‘e’ – equity. And the first step to achieving equity is deeply understanding your people, and enabling them to understand one another. This is a key reason your mentoring program should have DEI at its heart, because mentoring is a great way to facilitate bringing together people from different backgrounds or cultures and driving a conversation between them. Enabling them to learn from one another, fostering a deep understanding of the challenges the other faces, and in turn, understanding the importance of equity in organisations. 

Secondly, implementation of DEI policies and procedures involves your people speaking up, when they feel under-represented, unfairly treated or disadvantaged in some way. But, this courage doesn’t come naturally to all. As such, mentoring programs can also create a safe, trusting environment for your people to vocalise any problems they may be facing in the workplace, to their mentor. Who can then facilitate the all-important feedback loop to decision makers – who can take action to overcome the situation at hand.

Reverse mentoring

‘Future fit’ mentoring programs debunk the age-old thought process that mentoring programs are linear, with the mentee learning heaps of valuable information from their mentor. But we are entering a unique stage in time, where younger generations are digital natives, and can master new digital skills faster than their older counterparts. Therefore creating an environment where the mentee can help their mentor, just as much as the mentor can help them.

2020 was the year that forced us to embrace technology to keep in touch with our loved ones – even pensioners who had never used Zoom in their lives, used the platform to facilitate their social lives. But this push to a digital world wasn’t a shock for the younger generation, such as millennials or Gen Z-ers, who had been chatting, face-timing and instant messaging their friends for years. So this led to one inevitable outcome, the younger generations teaching the older generations how to use the tech. And although this example isn’t from the workplace, there are many workplace situations that our tech-savvy junior team members can help others upskill more quickly – leading to increased productivity all round.  

So as we continue to adapt our working styles, it’s more than likely that we’ll introduce new tech to streamline these processes. So future-proof your mentoring program by welcoming and encouraging reverse mentoring in your organisation, allowing mentors to lean on their mentee for help with those tech-savvy skills when they need them.

Proving return on investment

The impact of the coronavirus crisis didn’t just result in social distancing and lockdowns, it also had a huge impact on the economy, and in turn, organisations are feeling the pinch. So now more than ever, we’ll be asked to prove the return on the time and money invested in our people development and mentoring programs. But when it comes to mentoring, proving ROI isn’t as easy as “we invested £1m and we got £5m back” (although that would be a lovely return on investment, wouldn’t it?) 

With mentoring we need to think about how the program impacts your people, and in turn makes them more productive, efficient and expert in their roles. For example, you should demonstrate how your mentoring program fosters:

  • Improved talent retention and mobility
  • An enhanced culture and positive employee experience 
  • Efficient upskilling

However you demonstrate it, now is the time to prove the worth of your mentoring program, and foster internal support for its existence. Thus protecting the program if there are any looming budget cuts heading your way.

A future-proofed mentoring program

It’s safe to say that 2020 changed our workplace forever. Our arm was twisted and we have been forced to embrace new ways of working, and in turn, our mentoring programs need to adapt and change. By integrating, or at least considering, the areas above into your mentoring program, you’ll be well on your way to a future fit mentoring program, that will benefit both your people and organisation alike. 

Why global citizenship should be at the core of your workplace culture


Global Citizenship

Changing the world starts with changing your culture 

Profits, margins, turnover. These are all common top priority items for business leaders. But what about global citizenship? As the fight for equality continues and we navigate a pandemic, global citizenship is more important now than ever before. 

What is a global citizen? 

“A global citizen is someone who is aware of and understands the wider world – and their place in it. They take an active role in their community and work with others to make our planet more peaceful, sustainable and fairer.” – Oxfam, 2020. 

With rising numbers of people striving towards this ideal, the impact of global citizenship is being increasingly felt within organisations, as people call on their employers to help them embrace this creative, flexible, dedicated and proactive approach to life. In a 2018 human capital trends study, Deloitte found that 67% of employees want to work for a socially responsible company, suggesting that global citizenship not only affects an organisation’s image and reputation but also its ability to attract and retain talent.

So, how can organisations embrace global citizenship?

There are a number of ways organisations can embrace global citizenship internally, and help their people become better global citizens too. Most of the tactics boil down to one thing: doing the right thing first. For example, paying your fair share of taxes, ensuring your employees have access to appropriate healthcare, paying the living wage and so on. These can all have a huge impact on your organisation and your employee’s ability to be a global citizen.  

The professional world is no longer focused on profit margins alone, corporations are now judged on how they treat people and the environment. This phenomenon has become so apparent that Forbes has devised ‘The Just 100’ list of ‘companies leading the new era of responsible capitalism’. This list is full of business leaders proving that doing the right thing is more important than profit. For example, featured on the 2021 list is Doug Baker, CEO at Ecolab, due to his actions at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Seeing demand for hand sanitizer booming, he modified his production lines to create more of the cleaning product and donated over $3 million worth of alcohol wipes and disinfectant sprays to health-care providers. This move was not for profit, Ecolab was simply doing the right thing.

But how can we help our people embrace global citizenship in their day-to-day lives? Here at Grasp, we believe that communication, culture and mentoring have a huge role to play in creating global citizens. 

Organisational culture and global citizenship

According to Oxfam, some of the key benefits of global citizenship (GC) is that it enables people to:

  • Challenge ignorance and intolerance
  • Develop an argument and voice their opinion
  • See that they have power to act and influence the world around them

Each of these points require the individual to feel comfortable speaking up, having the courage to challenge their friends or peers, and understanding that there will be no negative consequences to doing the right thing. However, if your organisation is fostering a negative culture, where your people do not dare challenge their peers, let alone management, how can you expect your people to become global citizens?

Creating an environment where you allow passionate people to flourish and make the changes necessary to the world around them, is the first step to empowering your people to become global citizens. It is your responsibility as an organisation to ensure your culture is welcoming, inclusive and inviting, allowing your people to stand up for what is right. 

Communication and global citizenship

GC is often discussed in relation to school and education, focusing on how we must teach our young people about the notion and culture of peace and non-violence. But the affiliation between GC and schooling assumes that all adults have a clear, thorough understanding of the world around them and their place in the world – and as such are global citizens. We know that isn’t true. 

Therefore as business leaders we must communicate with our people on things that really matter. We must speak about political, social and economic injustice in the world, and lead by example when trying to overcome them. Lucy Suros, CEO of Articulate – a learning technology organisation based in the USA, showed great communication skills surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. In fact, she publicly communicated, posting an article on Medium calling corporate America to ‘wake up’. Her team reacted in kind, and this open communication enabled all of Lucy’s employees to become better global citizens. 

Mentoring and global citizenship

After an organisation has the right culture and communication in place to facilitate GC, they will begin to realise the benefits and characteristics of it throughout its organisation. Not least in its mentoring programmes. 

Mentoring presents an ideal opportunity to bring together a variety of people, with different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds, and drive conversation between them. By learning and understanding one another’s perspectives, both the mentor and mentee will benefit and broaden their understanding of different views – especially if each party comes from a different cultural background. 

In addition, mentoring programmes are designed so that the mentor can guide and coach the mentee through their career. This brings with it imparting knowledge and skills, and in turn is perfectly aligned with embracing GC. It is said that to become a global citizen people need to develop skills related to problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. All of which are areas where a mentor should already be coaching their mentee. 

Global citizenship is quickly becoming an essential agenda item for many employees today. If your organisation does not foster an environment that allows your people to make a positive impact on the world around them, they’re likely to move to an organisation that will. So now’s the time to embrace global citizenship and implement the culture, communication and effective mentoring partnerships to facilitate it – we’re sure you won’t regret it. 

How to create a workplace culture with impact



‘Workplace culture’ isn’t an empty, indefinable phrase, but an ethos that can have a tangible effect on your company’s productivity, engagement and retention. Once a culture is imprinted on an organisation, it becomes the template that defines how employees interact and how key decisions are made. It is therefore vital to examine the type of culture your company is promoting and take the appropriate steps to improve or redefine it. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

Are your employees communicating?
How effectively do they collaborate?
Are there silos in your midst?

Constructing a company culture isn’t simply about short-term success with your current employees, it’s about creating an ethos that binds generations of employees together now and for years to come. Here are our 5 top tips on how to create a culture which has a real impact on your organisation.

1. Make communication one of your core values

A more engaged workforce will always be a more productive one. This engagement can only be created in an environment where employees feel empowered enough to share ideas, express concerns and know their voices can be heard at all times. Great communication is the gateway to innovation, collaboration and a more inclusive workspace, but does your organisation truly value it? Digital communication tools like Slack and Teams, when used effectively, can connect entire work communities together, driving conversations between departments, cultures, hierarchy and silos. Increase productivity by facilitating those key conversations – create channels that include people and encourage participation in discussions. Create the right conditions for effective communication by not only making sure you have the right tools available, but that you also have the initiatives and values in place to encourage the use of them

2. Encourage and help foster collaboration

You’ve created a culture of communication within your workplace. Conversations are being driven across every level. But what’s the substance of these conversations? Are the right people being brought together? A collaborative culture is key to dispelling silos and fostering innovation within an organisation. However, this means investing in the people within your organisation and understanding the types of relationships and environments that will bring out the best in your employees. Digital tools allow us to understand our employees better and to facilitate the great connections that give rise to great working relationships. A collaborative culture means channelling the lines of communication to the right destinations and capitalising on the existing knowledge within your organisation.

3. Attract diverse talent and create an inclusive environment

A diverse and inclusive culture where everyone is treated equally is integral to improving productivity, engagement and retention. A diverse workplace attests to an environment that offers different voices and perspectives, while an inclusive culture ensures that these diverse voices are always included in the conversation. A diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace strengthens the atmosphere within an organisation, with each individual knowing they possess an equal opportunity to effect change within a company. With diverse teams ‘more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability’  and better prepared to ‘radically innovate’, a culture that promotes Diversity and Inclusion is absolutely essential for a culture that has impact. 

4. Align your values

Your culture contains the values you project to the outside world, whether intentionally or not. It’s therefore essential to ensure that the message you’re presenting externally to your customers aligns with the messages you are sending to your people. What values do you want to promote? Are you happy with presenting your workplace culture to the outside world? If not, take steps to change them before they become too deeply entrenched. A strong set of values held together by your company’s culture gives new and existing employees an ethos to rally around. In difficult times, these values will offer reassurance that an employee is in the right place and the storm will be weathered. 

5. Normalise feedback

Make feedback a key part of your company’s culture by normalising it. When feedback is treated as an integral part of employee performance rather than a standardised, annual performance-review, it has the capacity to improve productivity, engagement and retention. A strong feedback culture doesn’t simply involve critiquing the performances of your employees, it also involves understanding your employees enough to motivate them and drive them forward. Consider also how age, gender, race, religion, or ethnic origin may affect the way feedback is received. Adopt a structured approach that prioritises clarity and meaning for your employees. Complement feedback from managers with mentoring initiatives that provide feedback in a supportive setting. Improve your entire organisation by valuing the individual performances of your employees.

If culture binds an organisation together, then communication, collaboration, diversity and inclusion, and effective feedback can only really be cultivated in a connected workplace. A clearly defined culture might give your employees a guiding ethos, but it only really becomes tangible when appropriate measures are put in place to literally bind your organisation together. Mentoring provides the perfect solution for this. Mentoring shows that you value the development of your employees and offers a more personalised approach to development and communication. Your workplace culture can be the values you’ve adopted over time or the ideals you’d like to adopt, but remember that it can only be implemented by your people.

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