At a recent ISE Special Interest Forum, Simon from Hype Collective was joined by a great panel of Talent experts to discuss mental health, morals, and working habits.


  • Simon Lucey, Managing Director at Hype Collective
  • Natasha Dallyn, Recruitment Marketing Advisor at Shell
  • Shanice Mears, Head of Talent at The Elephant Room
  • Maria Donovan, Recruitment Director at Unlocked Graduates

Let's talk about mental health 

The panel speakers were all in agreement that we need to be talking about mental health as part of graduate recruitment. 

When and how you ask a candidate about their mental well-being is very important. "It's all about context", says Maria. Some recruiters have very good reason to be asking candidates. Maria went on to talk about the challenges for a graduate working in the prison environment for the first time. With 37% of the UK prison population reporting mental health or well-being issues in 2017, a fresh graduate might be dealing with distressed inmates daily, but might also be first on the scene in the case of self-harm or attempted suicide. In this situation, it's really important that graduates have access to the on-going support that Unlocked can provide.  

Maria shared that the employees who disclosed information about their past or present mental health, and were able to access support, were more resilient in their role. Timing is really important, though. Due to the stigma around mental health, Maria and her team made the decision to ask candidates about their mental health twice in the process. Once, during the application process, and again post-offer. 

Maria's advice to employers is to ask candidates about their mental health after the offer is made, so that young people feel confident that this will not affect their chances of securing the role.

Natasha talked about how we are all on a learning curve, and that is important to keep sharing best practice. "We know that students and graduates have networks and counselling available at university, but this often stops when they enter the workplace. A lot of employers are making huge advancements to support their new joiners, but we need to be mindful that we don't ask too much too early" says Natasha. 

Finally, Shanice shared that "it is not one size fits all" when it comes to discussing mental health in the workplace. While some graduates are aware of the fact they are suffering from mental health problems, others aren't there yet. "Employers have a duty of care to check in and see what their employees might need" advises Shanice.

Farewell to the lifer

New research shows that the average student expects to be their first job for 1-2 years. It is thought that staying longer may damage their careers, although they would stay longer if there is an opportunity to progress. 

Natasha talked about the 'flakey graduate' and that leaving a job so early is polarising for some. Bearing in mind the mindset of graduates on this topic, employers should perhaps stop seeing it as a negative. 

Shanice was a strong advocate of the Portfolio Career saying that supporting passion projects and sabbaticals help motivate and retain employees. With a team of 8, Shanice spoke about the different projects that each of her team members are part of outside of their main role, from running grime nights to writing books. Each bring their insight from the student market into their day job, helping them to resonate with their target audience. 

"We believe that every great piece of creative should be rooted in authentic and real insight. For us, insight isn’t just about research or analysis of communities from a safe distance. It’s about being able to immerse yourself in the lives of others and understand them from multiple viewpoints."

What does it mean to have morals?

"Some research leads us to believe that morality is the top criteria for students, whereas in reality the traditional factors of salary and career are still priorities for most. " kicks off Natasha.

Maria explained that students want a role that has an impact and makes a difference, whatever that means for the individual. That might mean going to work in a prison, but for some that might bean working in a bank. 

Shanice wraps up by saying that while there is a big focus on the earth and sustainability more generally, there is also a focus on sustainability in the working life. 

Ultimately, Graduates want to feel that they are creating change, whatever they are doing.

Thank you both to Simon and the fabulous panel speakers. I hope you find their insights as useful as I did.