Managing Staff Wellbeing Post COVID | Tenant Talks Recap | Tenant Talks

On June 11th Habit Action hosted a recent edition of our virtual speaker series, Tenant Talks™. This time we wanted to talk about managing staff wellbeing in a post lockdown world

Panelists included representatives from Day Lewis Plc, Frank Brown Aviation, and Mental Health Foundation. The event was hosted by Clare Matthews, Senior Business Development Manager at Habit Action. Our moderator was Rocky Ozaki from NoW of Work

Our panelists discussed the importance of managing employee mental and physical wellbeing after being faced with challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read on to learn more!

(More of a watcher than a reader? Watch the video recording of the event here.)

Question #1: What are the biggest challenges you think your employees will face as they come back to the physical office?


  • Comforts of home
  • Forced proximity to others
  • Reconnecting with colleagues
  • Finances, after savings money during quarantine


Rupa Patel, Executive Director at Day Lewis Plc, said that some employees will struggle with not having the same comforts that they did at home. She also talked about how people have gotten used to remote working over the last year, and the challenge for them will be going “back” to pre-COVID working habits

Chris Glass, Managing Director at Frank Brown & Son said that his company’s biggest challenge has been employees that are nervous about working in close proximity to other colleagues. He said that they have had to work hard to create more private working areas. 

Interestingly, Anna Kingsley-Nyinah, Director of HR and Wellbeing at Mental Health Foundation found that people had a hard time reconnecting with their colleagues, after months and months of working remotely. 

Anna said that people are also dealing with an increase in spending when they return to the office. She said that this is challenging for employees who were able to save money on expenses like gas and food during the lockdown.

Lastly, Anna said that her organization is also focusing on the challenge of personal wellbeing for her staff members

She defined “wellbeing” by saying, “For an individual, wellbeing is what makes them feel good at this moment, whatever makes them want to live a fulfilled life.”

Question #2: How do you balance the needs of the organization, versus the needs of each employee?


  • Creating a safe, open environment
  • Balance of employee responsibility vs. employer responsibility 
  • Trust and open communication between employers and employees


Chris talked about how Frank Brown & Son is working to create a safe environment where people feel comfortable talking about their problems. He said this has been hard for his organization and others that are used to the “old way” of working where employees did not typically discuss issues and concerns with employers. 

Anna said that leaders at Mental Health Foundation aim to balance their own responsibilities for ensuring employee wellbeing while encouraging staff to take accountability for their own mental health as well. 

“That balance is a key part of the psychological contract between employer and employees,” Anna explained.

Rupa touched on the idea of trust; that there has to be a mutual level of trust between employer and employee. She said that trust can be created by communication, by listening when employees need to be heard

Question #3: How do you deal with mental health and how do you recognize that in the workplace?


  • Employee surveys
  • Providing training to identify mental health issues
  • Providing a safe space for open conversations
  • Leading by example


Rupa said that her organization has recently implemented mental health questions into their annual surveys. The results showed that a whopping 75% of employees said they would value mental health support for themselves and their colleagues.  

“That was an eye-opener; because then we started to have these conversations to make sure we resource correctly,” Rupa said.  

More recently, Rupa said that Day Lewis Plc has started training its leadership staff on how to identify and address mental health concerns with employees, which Anna reiterated as well. 

Anna also talked about providing a safe space for open conversations between manager and employee, employee and manager, and employee and employee. She also talked about how the Mental Health Foundation has implemented a “safeguarding team” for employees, comprised of HR staff. The “safeguarding team” is an informal role that supports employees in need

(For those in need, there are lots of mental health resources on the Mental Health Foundation website.) 

Chris also talked about the importance of managers leading by example

“The other day one of my colleagues said he has worked in the business for 17 years and has never been asked how he is doing. And now we are actually asking those questions,” Chris explained. 

Question #4: One of the biggest hurdles to mental health is the stigma. How can we break the stigma around mental health? 


  • Having leaders model openness, but openly discussing mental health
  • Give employees regular opportunities to talk about their mental health
  • Asking the important questions (i.e. “Are you really ok?”)
  • Being vulnerable as leaders


Anna kicked off the discussion by addressing the fact that, again, leaders need to lead by example. This helps to normalize talking about mental health

“So having a CEO and leaders who are open about their own experiences with mental health, will encourage other employees to share their experiences,” Anna explained. 

She also talked about how important it is to give employees the opportunity to discuss their mental health.

Chris emphasized the importance of asking employees, “Are you really okay?” and giving them the opportunity to answer openly and honestly. He also said that leaders should not be afraid to show their vulnerable sides. 

“Show your vulnerable side, because by doing so it promotes an environment where you build trust,” Chris said. 


This was an important and relevant discussion on managing the wellbeing of our staff members in these unprecedented times. 

To hear the poll questions, rapid-fire questions, plus anecdotes that the panelists shared, watch the event video in full here

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