What examples of good practice in order to improve staff wellness are you aware of?

This question was posed to participants in PHAP's online consultation event on Humanitarian effectiveness and staff wellness. You can read more about the event at phap.org/WHS-30Jul2015.

Robust rest and recovery mechanisms as well as the time to use them.
- Independent consultant (United Kingdom)

Standby partners like RedR Australia include mandatory briefings and debriefings with professional, specialised counsellors (Mandala Foundation) and optional fully-funded additional sessions, which are anonymous.
- Advisor, World Food Program (Italy)

Deploying teams of psychosocial advisors to counsel the entire staff as a group. This is especially effective when the counsellors speak the local language.
- Emergency HR Coordinator, International NGO

We train staff on maintaining psychological and physical resilience so that they can practice self-care. Response managers have staff wellness as part of their Terms of Reference. We encourage staff to follow good practices (sleep, exercise, etc.) and have responses leaders model such behaviour. Once a response "settles down," we shorten office hours and encourage people to take more rest. Staff also have access to psychiatrists during and after deployments if needed.
- Senior emergency response manager, International NGO

Sending staff who have been exposed to high threat environments to retreats/programmes designed to address specific challenges faced by aid workers.
- Independent consultant (United States)

Offering staff free counselling services. Having training/ workshops on stress management.
- Cash Transfers and Social Protection Specialist (France)

Mandatory incident reporting and access to employee assistance programs, especially for national staff, R&R programs
- Principal, Consultant group (United States)

Individual coaching or therapy with an experienced practitioner (who has been an aid worker and understands the context), mindfulness meditation programs, regular yoga at the office after work and access to regular somatic work for dealing with PTSD and trauma.
- Wellness Trainer (Indonesia)

Training before deployment, briefing and debriefing before and after deployment, psychological support service to staff and volunteers, comprehensive insurance coverage.
- Senior manager, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Hong Kong)

Incorporating the WHO and Red Cross (and other) psycho-social health/ first aid guidance into processes, including emergency preparedness prior to the emergency to ensure that frontline staff will be safe and healthy. Including regular wellbeing checks and other means to assess wellbeing during an emergency.
- Global Advisor, International NGO (United States)

Easy access to stress counsellors, regular contact with senior staff, us of staff representatives to communicate issues.
- Director, UN Agency (Switzerland)

Personal care, peer support, organisational investment in staff wellness.
- Humanitarian Affairs Officer, UN Agency (Switzerland)

1) Regular check-ins with supervisors 2) Team outings (drinks, lunches, other social activities)
- Country Director, International NGO (Malaysia)

Conduct regular team meeting, holding annual team building, having discussion forums etc. – good communication especially related to security.
- Capacity Building Manager, NGO (DRC)

Having good living conditions: we have to consider correct accommodation, food, rest, and there is no shame about that. Stress management: Prevention, active listening, support by professional caregivers, no stigma, integration of feedback on this topic into the practices of the organisation. And allowing people to have good work/life balance, promoting this aspect both in the field and in HQ offices. Healthy people make better work.
- Deputy Director of Human Resources, International NGO (Switzerland)

Words of encouragement, active listening, information about positive outlook.
- Welfare Assistant, UN Agency (DRC)

Country specific health briefings noting physical and mental stressors which may be an issue in the work context/country.
- Travel Health Advisor, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

1. RnR policies for field staff after a certain duration in the duty station. 2. Work-life balance implementation that limit amount of work hours demanded of staff 3. Employee Assistance Programs that provide staff exposed to harsh work environment or dealing with survivors of torture/violence a way to seek professional help in managing vicarious trauma. 4. For field based staff, establishing health and gym facilities to ensure staff stay healthy and fit.
- Senior Field Team Leader, International NGO (Kenya)

Pre travel screening (vaccines, health, mental health). During travel follow up/check ins. Post travel screening.
- Travel Health Advisor, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

None of the organisations I've worked for have had good practices, though some have improved their practices after I pushed the agenda. One organization, specifically, made it easier for staff members to speak to a therapist from the field, as needed.
- Consultant (Canada)

Peer support is a good way to start, but staff who are engaged in this should also be trained and be allowed enough time to undertake these additional tasks. Selection of the "supporters" should be also be done carefully as they need to understand how serious these tasks are (i.e. they should not just apply to be a peer supporters just because of another training, opportunity, etc.). Staff counsellors (psychologists) who are familiar and have field experience should be present in mission area. I have been lucky enough to have one in the operation and this has really been useful for many staff. Senior and mid managers should be sensitized on this, just the same way they are on safety and security issues, as they hold responsibility for their staff.
- UN Agency (South Sudan)

Provide humanitarian workers with open-ended, long-term contracts.
- Humanitarian manager (Colombia)

It seems to be talked about more than it was in the past. This doesn't necessarily mean it is being addressed but at least discussed more.
- Senior Recruiter, International NGO (United States)

Group and individualized psychosocial support to the staff, staff retreats, personality tests or training and team work.
- Coordinator, International NGO (Tanzania)

Provide proactive services. Identify felt needs and design interventions to address those to keep staff healthy and well.
- Regional Staff Counsellor, UN Agency (Sudan)

1. Carrying out debriefing activities. 2. Team work is essential to motivate the staff. 3. Assigning each staff someone to look out for them always. Someone they can talk to and share whenever they feel like they need someone to talk to. 4. Providing a balanced diet to the staff.
- Legal officer, NGO (Kenya)

Health briefing; Resilience briefing pre deployment; Employee assistance programme; Confidential psychological debrief post assignment; Insurance cover; Stress management and resilience resources
- Health Advisor, International NGO (Ireland)

Staff retreats, or staff day out which include non work related activities, or activities specifically designed at strengthening the team coordination. I find that a well functioning team can help overcome many of the difficulties we can face as individuals having to deal with a workload of specific tasks and their challenges.
- Officer, Humanitarian network (Switzerland)

Support for staff and training in self-care; trauma awareness, mindfulness training, counselling.
- Consultant (United States)

Gym subscriptions or supplementation of gym/exercise facilities; recreational space & time or team-building days/ away days depending on the context; peer support; buddy system (for deployments or first time deployments especially to have someone to liaise with in-country); debriefing at the end of a deployment AND back in the home country.
- Coordinator, International NGO (South Sudan)

Conducting group therapy as a support mechanism for project staff to ensure having access to proper debrief mechanisms. Educating management about vicarious trauma and the need to prevent this.
- Project Coordinator, foundation (United States)

Strengthening teams, particularly support to team leaders.
- Staff counsellor, UN Agency (Pakistan)

In my organization we arrange for regular sessions with psychologists, and we encourage staff to try to balance their work-life balance in order to get enough time to relax and detach from work. We also organize social events for staff to help them relax. Training on what to expect from the kind of work we do and how to handle work-related stress, has proven to be helpful.
- Country Director, International NGO (Tanzania)

As a researcher I have been working on this topic for 6 years now, and I am aware of the best practices and guidelines published by the most important organizations who work on this matter (antares, headington institute, ifrc, people in aid etc.). Both self-care and organisational care are paramount.
- Researcher (United Kingdom)

Some good practices include a rotation system which ensures that staff do not overstay in such emergency environments for too long and that they are moved to family duty stations where they can live with their families. Also, provision of psycho-social support before, during and long after serving in difficult environments as some of the psychological impact may manifest long after the exposure to the traumatic situations.
- Chairperson of staff association, UN Agency (United States)

Importance of creating rest space, including physical recreation where at all possible, even if it is a walk around the block.
- Head of MENA region, International NGO (United Kingdom)

Psychological briefing and debriefing, peer assistance, managers who manage the work as well as the burden of it on their staff.
- Humanitarian Affairs Officer, UN Agency (Switzerland)

Better policy on staff care and wellness and good managers
- Security advisor, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

At minimum- staff debriefings after trips to humanitarian contexts and supervisory support for work/life balance (taking mandatory personal time in the evenings).
- Senior Programme Officer, International NGO (United States)

Rotation of staff members, allowing proper rest and departure from field to debrief, detach and receive counseling at a safe environment.
- Consultant (Indonesia)

Regular monthly payment of salaries.
- Independent Consultant (Benin)

Regular supervision, regular team meetings, access to counselling and professional advice.
- Consultant Psychologist, Foundation (Australia)

A careful analysis of the capacities - physical ones - of the staff is an essential requirement in my view. Previous training should be documented. The physical limitations may oblige to delay some actions, and may (or may not, hopefully) have a psychological impact on the team. I have witnessed in former students/professionals that this impact may last for years after a mission.
- University Professor (Portugal)

Availability of counselling services, debriefs, managing annual leave and R&R.
- Deployment Officer, International NGO (United Kingdom)

Crisis and Trauma debriefings and/or defusings; Offer counseling if needed; Time off if needed to recuperate from an incident; RnR; A 3 day retreat and personal debrief for all staff when they leave the international post or move from one country to the next; Short trainings in the field on stress, trauma, symptoms, triggers, self care and peer to peer care.
- Senior manager, International NGO (United States)

Clear organizational policies and psychological support.
- Medical officer, Governmental agency (United States)

Good management and building team cohesion are key antidotes, offering remote supportive services, including the spiritual dimension of health.
- Psychologist (Switzerland)

Health and exercise, regular debriefings.
- Intern, International NGO (Australia)