Working well? Aid worker well-being and how to improve it

  • Author(s)
    Melissa Pitotti and Mary Ann Clements
  • Resource Type
  • Themes
    People Management

Since July 2019 the CHS Alliance has been incubating the project design phase of the Initiative to Cultivate Caring, Compassionate Aid Organisations, led by Mary Ann Clements and Melissa Pitotti.

The initiative looked at the intersections between mental health, people management and organisational culture using the lens of care and compassion. The concepts of care and compassion were chosen to frame the initiative as they seem to resonate with most people working in the sector, both as a motivating factor in choosing this type of work and also as the characteristics of the kind of organisation which they would like to work in.

We’re excited to share their conclusions in the report: “Working well? Aid worker well-being and how to improve it” This report provides a summary of their findings and proposes an inclusive, multi-stakeholder process as a way forward to address the findings. The ultimate vision is to cultivate organisational cultures of care and compassion where people thrive and work more effectively.

This report provides numerous examples of efforts underway to support aid worker well-being and considers recent signs of political will to do more. However, it concludes:

  • the issue requires a “home” that weaves together consideration of mental health, people management, organisational culture (including issues of diversity and equity), as well as care and compassion;
  • it needs sustained resourcing to connect and support people working in these areas;
  • it warrants uninterrupted attention from leadership, and also from boards, managers and individuals; and
  • it requires different ways of working that better aligns with our stated humanitarian values.

To get there, we need to connect what is already happening and build momentum across the sector towards these issues being discussed more widely and acted on by organisations. We want to develop an inclusive process designed to shift the way aid organisations prioritise staff well-being. We will begin by exploring further the barriers to achieving Organisational Responsibility 8.9 and proposed solutions. From this, we plan to produce a facilitators’ guide and a resource repository, designed to support local facilitators around the world to host conversations around these themes.

Working well? Aid worker well-being and how to improve it

These resources will also allow facilitators to share knowledge and experiences, ensuring that diverse perspectives are sought and heard. We plan to capture the ideas generated in these spaces, and then share them through a newsletter, podcast, and blogs. These ideas would also inform planning for a large, in-person gathering to be held at the end of 2020 to foster collaboration, connection, learning and action going forward.

We’ll be inviting CHS Alliance members to join us for a discussion on the initiative in February 2020, so stay tuned and let us know if you would like to join.

Report comments are welcome and should be sent to our People Management Adviser, Gozel Baltaeva.

The “Working well?” report summarises findings and the vision for next steps.