25th September 2023 News

Wellbeing at work: what it means to us & a new podcast

10 for 10 • Wellbeing •

To mark Happiness at Work Week we wanted to share our new resources for wellbeing at work, including an infographic and a podcast on mentoring.

What does wellbeing at work mean to you?

As it’s Happiness at Work Week, we thought it was the perfect time to share two new resources from our 10th birthday ’10 for 10’ focussed on the topic.

What wellbeing at work means to us

First up is a handy infographic about 10 things it means to us at McPin, laid out for you to refer to and share easily!

This resource represents the collective contributions of the McPin staff, many of whom bring lived experience and expertise into the workplace.

It looks at the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of 10 core topics, from fairness and equity, to respect, and safe spaces.

Read the resource: Wellbeing at Work

The benefits mentoring can bring to your team

The second resource is a podcast where we talk to three mentors and three mentees from the McPin mentoring scheme about the benefits it can bring to both the workforce and its employees – inside and outside of work.

It’s a cracking listen and has good advice both for employees considering having a mentor, and employers thinking about starting a mentoring scheme at their workplace.

Listen to it here:

You can also read the transcript below.

If you like these resources please share them with others who might find them useful, and don’t forget to check out the other resources from the 10 for 10 campaign.

Listen to the podcast on mentoring

Wellbeing in the workplace: The benefits mentoring can bring to your team


Naomi: Pre-Pandemic our place of work was where we spent the majority of our time. We were expected to attend work and leave our cares and troubles at the door.

Now though, things have shifted – and it’s increasingly vital that, as an employer, you put the physical and mental health of your employees first.

Organizations are becoming more informed on the value of employee wellbeing and investing more in the mental health of the employees. However, data suggests that only 13% of employees actually feel comfortable addressing mental health in the workplace due to the stigma associated with it, which is just one reason employers might consider investing a mentoring scheme for their employees.

Mentoring and mental health go hand in hand, with studies showcasing the benefits it has on both professional and personal development.

My name’s Naomi, and I’m the Operations Support Officer at the McPin Foundation. McPin is a mental health research charity, and we exist to transform the sector by putting the lived experience of people affected by mental health issues at the heart of research.

As an HR practitioner I see the influence mentoring can have on mental health. Of course, some mental health issues will need ongoing and holistic support, but it’s important to create a happy environment within the workplace where employees feel free from judgment and can actively express their worries and thoughts.

In this podcast, we’re going to talk about the benefits that having a mentoring scheme can bring to employee wellbeing. We’ll hear from three mentors and three mentees from the McPin team.

If you’ve been wondering whether setting up a mentoring scheme in your organization is worth it, this is the episode for you.

What is mentoring?

Naomi: But first, what is mentoring? If you’re not familiar with it, people looking for guidance at work are paired up with a mentor who is usually further along in their career for advice or support around their work life.

This might be a particular topic such as getting a promotion or learning a new skill, or just as a place to chat through workplace issues as they arise. According to recent data, 87% of mentor and mentees say their mentoring relationships make them feel empowered and help them develop more confidence in themselves. Mentees are five times more likely to be promoted than those without a mentor, and organizations can also tailor their mentoring scheme to what works for them.

At McPin, we use a pool of external mentors, and the scheme is open to the whole team. Our mentors range from psychologists to mindfulness trainers and life coaches, and we give employees who are interested in the mentoring scheme a short bio about each mentor for them to choose from.

Mentoring sessions tend to be an hour long and monthly, and are within working hours. Each mentee is offered an initial six sessions with a review after this point. But, as you’ll hear, some of our mentees have had their mentors for several years due to the success of their sessions.

First, we’re going to hear a chat between Daisy, a former member of the McPin comms team, and her mentor Dorothy, who is an executive coach and mentor. They’re going to discuss the non-directive approach, why mentoring shows that you value your staff, and the importance of the mentor-mentee relationship.

Interview 1: Daisy and Dorothy

Daisy: I was really excited when McPin told me about the mentoring options and they sent through a list of all different people. And your page really stood out for me, your little bio, because you were talking about having a non-directive and sort of collaborative approach when working with people.

And I’m used to working with mentors who have a very specific skillset in the area that I sort of aspire to work in. So to have something that’s a bit more general but very collaborative and helping me solve my own problems myself felt really appealing.

Why is it that you take that kind of approach when mentoring – do you take different approaches with different people, or do you generally do non-directive approaches with everyone?

Dorothy: Yeah, it’s part of my coaching style, you know, sort of non-directive and collaborative. But that said, I like to kind of listen first what the person wants, and tailor-make my approach to what they want.

So for example, if I work with somebody who comes to me and says, I’m applying for a job, I’m looking for some help in interviewing skills or doing a personal statement, I’m sort of a little bit more directive then, but if it’s something different my approach is very much that you are the expert in your experience and it’s very important for me to listen to you and tailor-make the help that I can offer as best as possible, in a way that helps you shape what’s suitable for what you’re looking for.

Daisy: Yeah, I notice you sort of repeating back to me what you’ve heard or open questions and it feels like it gives me the freedom to be able to talk about any challenges or any hurdles that I have to face, that you are enabling me to kind of solve those problems myself rather than coming in with all the solutions, which I think is really beneficial.

Dorothy: Oh, that’s super to hear. So I come in as a facilitator and kind of help shine the light, maybe on different blind spots, or different ways of doing things or different ways of seeing things.

So I know we’ve been working together for quite some time. what’s your biggest takeaway or benefiting from the mentoring so far?

Daisy: I think just having a bit of space process my day-to-day working life and having a bit more confidence in myself and my abilities, and just having a bit of a cheerleader on my shoulder that’s saying, you know, you can do this; and breakdown tasks that might feel quite overwhelming into sort of small and more manageable tasks; and just having the space with someone who’s separate from my day-to-day working life to be able to yeah, hold space and be able to overcome those challenges.

So I think overall the whole experience has been really positive. And it’s something I look forward to and it feels like a nice way to break up a day slightly. Just have a little break from being at my desk and being able to talk things through and just take a step back rather than being right up close in the detail of everything. So yeah, overall I’d say that it’s been a big benefit to my wellbeing.

Dorothy: That’s really super to hear.

Daisy: So what is your number one takeaway for organizations considering implementing mentoring?

Dorothy: Oh my goodness – the number one thing I think I say to organizations, it’s about demonstrating that valuing of their staff. And also encouraging individuals to take personal ownership of their own development, which can only enhance how they’re doing their job.

I think just listening to the feedback that you’ve been able to share, this is so valuable for organizations just to take that time and invest in a mentoring scheme for their staff because it helps the individual, the team, and the organization as a whole really. It’s wonderful. Really wonderful.

What would you say to somebody considering becoming a mentee?

Daisy: I’d say there’s lots of different ways that a mentor and mentee relationship can look like, and that it’s really important to take the time to find someone who works for you.

It might be that you’re looking for somebody that you can discuss challenges or things that you want to overcome in your workplace, or it might be that you want to talk with someone who has skills and experience that they might be able to help you with.

There’s as many different ways to do mentoring as there are combinations of mentors and mentees out there. So just take the time to find someone that works well for you and it will be absolutely worth it.

Naomi: So that was Daisy and Dorothy talking about the non-directive approach and the benefits of having a space to process the workday.

Next, we’re going to hear from Bradley, one of our mentors who is a psychologist by background. He discusses mentoring people with lived experience of mental health issues, bringing equality, equity, diversity, and inclusion into mentoring, and the importance of finding common ground.

Interview 2: Bradley (mentor)

Naomi: Okay, so Bradley, the mentors we’ve spoken to have mentioned how important the relationship is between them and their mentee is, and growing a good rapport. During any of your sessions, would you have shared your lived experience or common ground to help grow that rapport between you and your mentee?

Bradley: In any relationship, whether it’s mentorship or supervision or even a therapeutic relationship, I think you do need to have that rapport and that relationship that grows because mentoring is a two-way street really, where both can kind of grow and learn from one another. So I think it is pretty crucial.

What I do as a mentor in the first session, two sessions we really, I do try and build that engagement, that rapport, find some common ground. And I think particularly with McPin, lived experience is such a crucial area where we can share, and the slight difficulty is with what do you share and where are the boundaries?

But as long as there is some common ground I think then you can use that experience to have that shared understanding and think about how to move forward. Without that, you’re losing something.

Naomi: Do you feel there’s a difference in doing sessions with managers in comparison to non-managers?

Bradley: Yeah, I think the general basis is similar. Because I guess what you want to do as a mentor is help someone understand their position within the workplace, the various stresses they have, and really negotiate those, think about it in a different way.

And I think that a really important part is that they hold a different perspective, kind of give an outsider’s view. So whatever position within the organization you’re mentoring, I think that has some very similar principles.

Having said that, I do think depending on the position of the organization, you do offer different things. So, for example, if you’re mentoring someone who is fairly inexperienced or quite new to the organization I think the real pressures are about getting a voice heard and really trying to establish yourself, trying to negotiate new skills, and that is a real challenge for a lot of people.

And the people I’ve been mentoring, some of the challenges, for example, have been about how much do I disclose my lived experience? That’s quite a key matter that we talk about. Another thing is there’s quite a few people I’ve mentored who have anxiety perhaps about speaking in public or speaking in meetings, presentations. And that’s been quite a big focus of some of the mentoring work I’ve done with relatively inexperienced people – and also people more experienced.

At the top, if you’re mentoring more senior managers, I think you’re mentoring about this idea of responsibility. You know, I think people at the top of organizations very much feel that pressure, that there’s a lot of people, they’re often the target of criticism for decisions they’ve made, which is natural.

But I think just holding that responsibility and being able to buffer that with the people they’re working with is a real challenge. And to try and stick with their views and keep hold their values is a real interesting sort of challenge I think for many people at the high level.

The people are I mentored actually mostly in McPin and elsewhere have been people kind of in the middle – middle managers. And in a way, I think it’s probably the most challenging position, because you feel squeezed, I think, from both sides.

From above you have the pressures of the organization or from commissioners that you need to meet these targets, these are the deadlines and so on. And then from below you’re managing people with, again, their own challenges, how to be flexible with them, how to meet their mental health needs sometimes. And I think that is a very difficult position.

So as a mentor, you really have to support that person in the middle to just think about these and to work out ways to negotiate that.

I mean, mentoring’s an interesting concept and there’s a big overlap, I think, between what you might call mentoring, coaching, supervision, counselling, therapy. And I think some of those things cross over quite a lot.

So you can think about what are their goals to maybe feel more confident in their job role, be more confident in speaking to others. But you could also look at it in a slightly more therapeutic way. And you think actually, what are the strategies, the techniques, that can help manage those anxieties?

So in CBT we do a lot of for, example, behavioural experiments where we test things out in situations to see if some of those worries come true. So someone who’s worried about speaking might build that up. And, you know, you might say that’s crossing over into a slight therapeutic role. But I think, any strategies, any techniques that really help that is really important.

It is goal setting, but it’s not just goal setting. I think everyone I’ve worked with, they’ve had certain goals, but there’s always something that comes up in the previous week, two weeks, in their job role that just needs a bit of thought really.

And they may not be goal orientated. So they might be managing someone they’re finding quite challenging or need to think a bit about the general idea about lived experience and how much they disclose, not disclose, at McPin for example, which has been a factor that’s come up. And thinking about that, with different perspectives, with different hats on, is really important.

Naomi: So Bradley, I know you’ve been a mentor for quite some time and you’ve probably had different types of mentoring sessions and outcomes to your mentoring sessions, but what do you consider to be a good mentoring session? What would you think yeah, I felt like I really helped that mentee in this session?

Bradley: That’s a good question. I think it can be a bit hard to define what is a good mentoring session. It’s very unlikely you just get ‘thank you very much everything’s much improved’.

What I would come out of a session feeling quite satisfied is really helping someone see an alternative way of looking at the problem. So often being in an organization the politics, the pressures, they very much envelope, I think someone’s experience. And it’s really hard to sometimes see the wood through the trees.

And if we have a mentoring session where I’m saying, well, have you thought about these dynamics that are going on? Have we thought about these pressures? Or how do you think that challenging person that you are managing, is experiencing it themselves?

And if you can get that alternative perspective and they can take a step away and think, actually I haven’t thought about it in that way, or actually I can now appreciate or empathize a little bit with other people’s positions, for me that’s a success because it’s very systemic.

And it might not be at the end of the hour-long mentor session evident, that success, but you’d probably see it hopefully between sessions. You’d come back and say, actually the thing we discussed last time, you know, I’ve thought about it more, or I’ve tried this approach, or I’ve stopped doing what I used to do, which wasn’t effective. I suppose it’s a bit of a cliche, but you are helping guide someone through the choppy waters, which is no mean feat.

Naomi: And most mentoring sessions are run over a course of six months or slightly less depending on how long the mentee needs. How do you see people develop during the course of your sessions?

Bradley: It’s quite varied. I’ve certainly seen people for one or two sessions where it’s been very focused, quite specific, quite practical. That’s great. There’s other people I’ve seen, two years or three years I’ve been mentoring them, but I think that’s maybe more of an ongoing process to think about actually there’s going to be new challenges within the same kind of themes, but it’s just how to think about it in another way.

I don’t think it’s worth putting a time limit on it. I think it’s only useful as long as the person being mentored finds that useful because I think someone can start the mentor relationship and have very different goals and very different needs on day one versus maybe six months, a year down the line.

So I think it’s always changing and a good mentor relationship should be very adaptable and flexible and think about, what are the needs today? And they might be very different to what they were six months ago, but they’re just as valid and just as genuine.

Naomi: So at McPin we are currently implementing equality, diversity, and inclusion strategies – how would this play into your mentoring sessions? So for instance, what’s your experience mentoring people with different lived experience and cultural differences from yourself?

Bradley: I think most people I’ve mentored have been different genders, different race, different backgrounds, to myself. So I think you have to acknowledge that. I think that’s the sort of starting point, that there are differences there – there’s obviously value all backgrounds and all differences.

What you don’t want is for these differences to be unsaid and actually feel they’re playing a role that’s unconscious somehow. And there’s obviously biases there.

Unconscious bias is pretty well thought about these days, and I think if you’re open with that that’s okay and it shouldn’t be a barrier, so as long as the mentor is willing to learn and listen, and think about, actually you are experiencing it from your perspective, I’m not from that background, and I need to listen and learn from you. I need to know how it feels and then I can hopefully offer something to help you.

I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be in your position perhaps, but I can have a bit of a think and you can never totally match someone up ideally, but I think you should be able to choose and think about what is the best fit for you. But within limits because there’s probably a limited pool of mentors for example, to choose from. And also, it’s never going to be a perfect match, even if someone comes from a similar country of origin or cultural background or same gender, there’s huge differences within those.

The key thing is not where you come from and, and what your experience is, but actually your ability to actively listen to the other person, to think about what are our shared experiences, what are our differences and how can we learn from that? And you’d hope that a mentor would have those skills.

So, I think it is crucial to talk about these issues, but it’s often very complex and often comes up with answers that aren’t always satisfactory to everyone. But as long as you talk about it and think about it carefully, that’s the crucial thing.

Naomi: So what advice would you give other organizations thinking about introducing a mentoring scheme for their employees?

Bradley: The idea of wellbeing is pretty crucial to all organizations. There’s so much more awareness the last few years, decade really, about mental health in the workplace, the impact it has on employees and also on the organization and their bottom line.

People suffering poor mental health or stress in the workplace, they’re less productive and it really affects organizations in many ways. So it’s a real positive that people are thinking about that. What in my view is the downside, is that people can latch onto this idea about wellbeing or mental health at work and pay lip service and not really do anything about it.

There’s lots of ways to address mental health issues in the workplace, but mentoring is a very important way. It takes someone and links them up with someone outside the organization as a mentor and that’s so important because when I mentor people, I say none of this is getting fed back into your organization or to your manager, unless there’s very extreme risky circumstances, but it gives you that safety of thinking I can talk openly and I can express my fears and I can say what I’m not doing well and that’s okay.

So, would I say to organizations have a mentoring scheme? Yeah, I probably would. I do think organizations do need to improve what they can offer within as well. But if a mentoring scheme is there and available, I think it’s very valuable and it can really help people feel more comfortable, people’s wellbeing, people’s performance, and crucially relationships with their colleagues at work.

Because most of the difficulties I encounter in mentoring is about other people. You know, maybe a colleague, maybe someone they’re managing, maybe their boss, those kind of things. They’re quite hard to negotiate and it’s very hard to speak to people in your own organization about that. Having someone outside is just, it’s quite freeing, I think, to be able to think about that in a constructive way.

Interview 3: McPin mentee

Naomi: That was Bradley talking about how mentoring can be a safe space and give an outside perspective.

Next we’re going to be talking to another McPin member about how mentoring has helped her develop from trainee to manager, how sessions are structured, and why she believes the sessions have helped her productivity.

Mentee: So I joined McPin in 2017 and it wasn’t long after that that I started to engage with the mentoring scheme. And at the time I was experiencing really quite difficult social anxiety to the point that it was affecting both personally and at work. That was probably the main reason why I wanted to pursue mentoring at the time, but there were other reasons related to my mental health generally and just wanting to manage that better whilst at work.

And I knew that I wanted to go on that journey, but I wanted someone to kind of hold my hand on that journey, and being able to meet with them monthly and check in regularly, having my own personal cheerleader, felt like something that really benefit me at the time.

Naomi: So how do you find sessions in terms of supporting your wellbeing?

Mentee: The sessions have been genuinely life changing for me, and I don’t say that lightly. I mean that literally, because while the sessions are predominantly for wellbeing at work and supporting work performance and things like that, of course wellbeing on a personal level is so embedded into what you do at work as well.

So inevitably things on a personal level do come up and yeah, we do delve deep into some things regarding my mental health. In particular, having the mentor really helps me to challenge my negative thinking cycles, for example, so, it’s done absolute wonders for my wellbeing. Absolutely.

Naomi: That’s great. So how do you find the structure? Is it sort of led by you or the mentor, or is it a joint effort in terms of what you’re going to speak about and where it goes?

Mentee: What usually happens is that I tend to bring a list with me of things that I want to raise or discuss with my mentor, and I think she appreciates that actually. And what I really like is the flexibility of that because I can essentially bring whatever I need to bring, obviously within reason.

What we tend to do then is work through my list and within that list I’ll ask what I’m after from my mentor – for example, advice or to help me reflect on something. It’s really super flexible in terms of the sort of things we’ve done. We’ve gone through documents together when I’ve had to put together an academic CV, for example.

And when we first started our mentoring sessions, my mentor actually presented a list of things that we could bring up. And I got that kind of personalized approach because I ticked the topics that at the time felt applicable for me.

And I wouldn’t say that’s a rigid list, but it’s really helpful to have that initial session with the mentor to know what she’s able to offer, so when I bring things myself, I can make sure it’s relevant to her own expertise.

Naomi: So has that helped you with your progress at work?

Mentee: Absolutely. I owe so much to my mentor for my progress at work, I can’t even emphasize.

My mentor has seen my journey from the very beginning as trainee all the way to manager level. She’s seen me grow, she’s seen my setbacks, it has really very much been like having my own personal cheerleader, which I’m so grateful for, but also having my own kind of critical friend if I need someone to kind of gently ground me, and my mentor’s really good at helping me see that and see different perspectives.

But the reason why I went to mentoring in the first place was related to my social anxiety and severe phobia of public speaking. It has been such a journey and having my mentor on board has been incredible because if there’s been a setback, or something hasn’t gone so great, she’s been there to help me pick up the pieces and try again and rehearse things with me.

Because a lot of this has been my journey having difficulties of feeling like an imposter, feeling like I don’t belong in the role. And what my mentor has been really brilliant at doing is helping me see the value of what I do bring.

And then the last thing I wanted to mention is my communication skills at work. Especially now at manager level, I am more responsible for addressing crucial conversations and all the challenges that can come with that, and my mentor has really helped me understand how to provide that feedback in a helpful manner.

Another major benefit is that they are able to offer you a non-biased perspective and you can discuss matters with them, that you may not, for whatever reason, be able to speak to with another colleague, and I found that especially helpful.

Interview 4: Shazia and mentee

Naomi: That was a McPin team member sharing why she would thoroughly recommend mentoring for fellow employees.

Now we’ll hear from another McPin team member chatting to her mentor Shazia about why she chose her, how mentoring helped her get a promotion and why setting up a mentoring scheme isn’t as hard as you might think.

Shazia: Okay, so it’d be really interesting to understand a little bit about why you chose me to be your mentor.

Mentee: Yeah, so basically I was shown a list of the different mentors available at McPin and I looked through them, and there was a biography and a picture. And when I saw your picture, I thought you looked a bit like me and also, you looked roughly my age.

So I thought that we would have a lot in common – shared lived experience, shared experiences – and your biography showed that you had a lot of experience; I thought that was quite reassuring. So I’ve worked with you for two years now and we’ve been meeting monthly and I think it’s going really well.

Shazia: That’s great to hear. And what do you think has been important in developing our rapport?

Mentee: Well, like I said, we have a bit of a shared background being of the same age. We can reflect on some of our experiences, so I feel like the fact that we have a lot in common is very helpful.

And what has helped develop our report – I think some key things happened. One was that I was a bit upset about the George Floyd incident during the Covid lockdown, and you helped me up with that. You explained that it’s about anti-racism, not racism, you really helped to open up my world to learning more about this topic.

And because you’re a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion, you were able to coach me learning more about the topic and then later on you congratulated me on my progress because you could see, and I could see, that I’d come a long way in how I approached the topic and my understanding and knowledge of this topic had really improved.

You also helped me to reflect on the McPin journey with diversity, equity, and inclusion as well, because I told you what was going on in the charity about how we were planning to become a champion on the topic as well.

Shazia: Yeah, it has been really great to see your growth and development in that area, because we often think back to our first session together, don’t we? And to see sort of where you are now versus when we first started to work together, it’s been really rewarding, I would say, to see that growth.

Mentee: Yeah. I’m glad that you find it rewarding because I find it rewarding as well. Because I can see the journey and the development that I’ve had along the way. I think that’s really important.

Shazia: Definitely. And how have your mentoring sessions helped with your wellbeing specifically?

Mentee: Well, I feel like I was able to share my mental health issues with you and I shared some other vulnerabilities, and I feel like you’ve always made it a safe space for me to share in.

You’ve shown me empathy, you’ve shown me respect, and I think that you’re very open-minded about this because we’ve been able to have open conversations about my concerns and I didn’t feel judged. I felt supported.

And I really look forward to our monthly meetings because I know this is roughly what I’m going to talk about with Shazia this month, because it’s things that are pressing for me on my mind, and then I’m able to share with you – and you always reflects back on what I’ve said from your own experience, you talk about how these things are quite normal and they’re common concerns, that kind of normalizes my experience.

Shazia: Absolutely. Yeah I think often these types of issues, we sort of feel alone in our own little world and think, you know, oh, it must just be me or it’s because of, you know, X, Y, and Z because of my personality.

But I think it’s really important to know that that’s normal and to sort of have that discussion with someone else and for them to also share that experience. And I think that’s one of the benefits of mentoring.

Mentee: And what you’ve just said is an example of the type of thing that you were doing a mentoring session, which kind of reaffirms what I’m thinking and how I feel. So that’s really good.

Shazia: I’m really pleased to hear that, thank you. And have the mentoring sessions helped you with your progress work?

Mentee: Yeah, we’ve often set SMART goals, particularly at the beginning of the year, and we often refer back to them, and I think that you helped me learn how to put these kind of goals into place.

You helped me work towards a promotion, which was fantastic, because I told you earlier on that I was hoping to work towards a promotion, and I think you gave me the confidence and you helped me to focus on that.

So most of the times we met you would ask me about it and you’d be like, no, come on, this is what you wanted, you’re going to work towards a promotion. And it helped keep me on track.

Shazia: And tell me, did you get the promotion?

Mentee: Yeah, I got promoted in December last year, and I was so happy because it’s a wonderful feeling to have worked towards something and then achieve it.

Shazia: Absolutely. I think a really nice thing that we’ve sort of often worked with at the beginning of the year is what the goals for the year will look like. And it’s been really fulfilling and really exciting for me to see you pushing yourself and your ambition and your capabilities and see you flourish like that.

Mentee: Yeah. Thank you. I always feel like you’ve got my back and also I’ve talked to you about work-life balance before and managing my day-to-day life.

And we’ve talked about one time when I had a very stressful, busy period of work. And you helped me to reflect on that, and you helped me to see what I had achieved through that stressful, busy period, and you kind of turned it into a positive and helped my self-awareness to make me see that just because it was stressful and busy doesn’t mean that it was a negative thing.

Shazia: Brilliant. Delighted to hear that. And I wanted to ask you what do you think mentoring schemes bring to employees?

Mentee: I think that you have to be open-minded and willing to change, willing to take on board someone else’s opinion, but I think that is an enjoyable process. It’s supportive. It’s empowering, and just to know that I had a Shazia that could help me out, that I could turn to, that was a really confidence building experience.

Shazia: Oh, I love that – I think I want to put that on my wall. What a testimony. Thank you, that means a lot.

Mentee: How would you describe your approach to mentoring mentees?

Shazia: I would definitely say it’s more mentee led. I think it’s really important to have a sort of person-centered approach as a mentor or a coach. And by that I mean focusing on the individual and responding to their needs and their development needs.

So rather than sort of me coming in with an agenda and saying, ‘today we’re gonna be talking about this’, that’s not the type of mentoring scheme that we have here at McPin. And I think that’s really important that it is mentee-led and you know, working towards their own goals rather than the mentor bringing a particular agenda in.

Mentee: Absolutely. I definitely can see that you’ve used our sessions as a mentee-led approach and that’s been a really good thing. Has there been more discussion from your mentees about their wellbeing since the pandemic?

Shazia: I think it’s been really interesting to sort of work very closely with individuals throughout the pandemic and kind of the challenges they initially brought when we first started to lockdown and the working environment and dynamics have changed.

And what’s been really interesting is actually on the other side of that is actually as we transition out of lockdowns and normality slowly returns, actually kind of supporting people out of that because it was such a shift and such a quick shift as well.

And so I think the mentoring relationship could really support with some of that transition and I’ve definitely noticed that individuals then felt that anxiety of either going back into the office or back in very busy places, that was quite widespread. So it has been really interesting to sort of see that transition but also support with that transition.

Mentee: Yeah, I definitely feel you supported me with that transition because I remember sharing with you that I was nervous about going to socials and going into the office, and you were very supportive of me in the way that I call normalizing, because you helped me realize that everyone was in the same boat about it.

Shazia: Yeah, your drive for change and goals around getting out and socializing more at the sort of tail end of that pandemic was really great to see, that actually you kind of got on top of it really quickly and started to really enjoy it, which was lovely.

Mentee: Thank you. I’ve got another question for you. How does McPin’s lived experience emphasis impact the way you work with us compared to other places you’ve mentored?

Shazia: I’ve absolutely loved working With McPin because of its values. I think the emphasis around lived experience is quite unique but I think what that brings with it is sort of an openness to talk about your lived experience and what’s going on for you and the safe space that that brings in a workplace as well.

I think a lot of people are really nervous about talking about some of those types of things in their organizations or with their bosses outside of McPin, so it’s fantastic that an organization like McPin, one exists, and two kind of really embeds those values and lives up to those values, and I think that then creates a safe space for employees to have those discussions when people are having days where they might be faced with more challenges.

It feels probably easier to have those conversations, so it’s been brilliant to kind of be part of that journey. And I think that openness is really refreshing to see. You get that in some sectors, but not in all sectors.

Mentee: That’s really reassuring. Have you ever used your own lived experience to inform your session or relate to your mentee?

Shazia: I think it is important to share my own lived experience and my experience in my mentoring and coaching as well, because it sometimes can feel quite isolating when you’re not having that open discussion. But actually when people realize that it’s quite normal, it’s quite common, it can really help and support individuals.

And I think it’s important that mentors don’t enforce that or kind of see that as the only way or the only option. But just being comfortable with having that out there as an option or ‘this is what’s helped me in case it inspires or sparks any ideas’, but allowing the mentee to make their own choices on what’s right for them because they’re the expert in their lives.

Mentee: It reminds me of earlier on you shared with me what university degree you did and a bit about your career pathway, and I think that was really helpful in building a good rapport between us because I could see you as a real person and I could see that we had some common interests.

And because you’re a work-related mentor, it kind of figured it was very helpful that you did share some of your background experience with me.

Shazia: Definitely, I think it can really help individuals connect to one another and see each other as humans, particularly as we are online. So we’ve never met each other in person, which is probably quite unusual for a mentoring relationship, say 10 years ago. And I think that helps and fosters the relationship.

Mentee: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with you. Okay. What’s your number one takeaway for organizations considering implementing mentoring?

Shazia: Do it. Quite simply, absolutely do it. I mean, mentoring is such a special developmental space. I think all organizations should have a mentoring scheme if they are capable and able to. I think a lot of people get daunted by it, but they are not that complex to set up.

You can get guidance out there to help set them up, but I do think they’re so valuable and really offer a strong developmental space that isn’t offered by a line manager. It is a safe, reflective space that is really valuable that you can’t normally get, even sometimes with colleagues – I really do think it’s a vital support mechanism that all organizations should have and if organizations don’t feel comfortable in setting that up themselves, there’s often networks which they can set up or be part of.

Naomi: That was Shazia and her mentee talking about some more benefits mentoring can bring to an organization and its team.


That’s all from our mentors and mentees. We hope you found it useful and interesting.

Here are our five top takeaways for organizations thinking about setting up a mentoring scheme.

  1. Firstly, do it. I would highly recommend it. Mentoring can have so many benefits, both for employees individually and as a knock-on effect for the organization as a whole. It’s good to have a range of mentors so employees can find the mentor that works for them. Ultimately though there’s no such thing as a perfect match – it’s more important to have mentors who are willing to listen.
  2. Secondly, mentoring can be a great way to support your middle managers who might find it tricky to navigate demands from above and below. However, it’s always important to offer mentoring to all levels in your organization.
  3. Thirdly, mentoring can also be a good way to help team members navigate challenges, offering a different perspective, personal cheerleader and safe space to discuss issues.
  4. Fourthly, setting up a mentoring scheme doesn’t have to be hard. You can get help or create your own support networks.
  5. And finally, the wellbeing of any workforce is valuable to productivity and employee engagement, as well as demonstrating support for employees living with mental health issues and lived experiences. Introducing a mentoring scheme for your employees could help to break down barriers and stigmas attached to mental health and provides a safe space for all employees.


Thanks again for listening and to all our fantastic mentors and mentees for sharing their stories.

You can find out more about us at www.mcpin.org and we’re also on Twitter and Instagram @McPinFoundation. And if you’d like to hear more McPin podcasts, you can follow us on Spotify, SoundCloud, or wherever you’d like to listen.