UNDP’s People for 2030 Strategy in the context of a global pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed major challenges for organizations all over the world, as well as for the people who work for them. As a major development organization with a global presence in some 170 countries, UNDP has certainly not been immune to this disruption. COVID has impacted both our work and the lives of our 17,000 personnel. However, due to our resilience and strength in adversity, UNDP colleagues around the world have come together to help each other survive and even thrive in these unprecedented and difficult times. It is no coincidence that People for 2030 emphasizes the vital importance of taking care of our people — one of the strategy’s nine strategic focus areas.

UNDP People for 2030 Focus Areas
UNDP People for 2030 Focus Areas

This second People for 2030 blog post showcases a series of ways in which UNDP colleagues around the world have risen to the challenge:

Albania Country Office strives to maintain a healthy mindset
The Albania CO exemplifies the Take Care of Our People Focus Area of the People for 2030 strategy by focusing on their colleagues’ mental health through different classes offered after work hours. Colleagues in the office originally wanted to provide free painting classes to their team, and from there, the initiative expanded. Albania CO employees held painting classes every two weeks, allowing colleagues to explore their creative sides and strengthen their bonds with one another. The Albania CO plans to hold different competitions in cooking, yoga, and running, in which employees can win prizes.

“We could immediately feel a good energy,” explained Xhesi Mane. “These activities allowed people in the office to grow together.”

Albania CO Painting Class Artwork
Albania CO Painting Class Artwork

Indonesia Country Office ensures their office is fully prepared for upcoming challenges
The Indonesia country office held weekly meetings to ensure staff members were informed about office updates and performed wellbeing checks on employees. The team also continued maintaining an organized system of getting work done and assisted others whose workload may have increased due to the circumstances.

A mailing list was created that included all personnel to receive updates about COVID-19 at home. The office management delivered PPE packages in March and December 2020 to each person’s home. The office developed staff training so they could feel more confident working in a digital environment. Staff was also able to socialize with one another virtually to maintain positive relationships with their coworkers.

The Human Resources team at the Indonesia CO focused on prioritizing staff’s mental health through guest speakers and fun activities. They held cooking, singing, dancing, and exercise classes through their HR ‘We Care’ Programme.

“Thankfully, being part of UNDP Indonesia, I was able to access several activities to help maintain the work and life balance through the WeCare programme. The WeCare programme provided helpful activities such as exercising together with colleagues and webinars on mental health. UNDP Indonesia also provided a support system to check on employees’ wellbeing during the pandemic. This initiative has helped us find a sense of community. Through this system, I have found a sense of peace, solitude, and inspiration”, said one member of staff.

Support was available to those who needed it. Medical student volunteers answered questions to help with the anxiety and confusion surrounding COVID-19. The office also created fundraising efforts to help employees at the Indonesia CO who were struggling financially.

Kazakhstan Country Office raises funds for those in need

The Kazakhstan CO continued to deliver throughout the transition to teleworking due to the pandemic. “People were very active. Although people were scared initially, staff became more supportive of one another, and the staff association worked tirelessly to create activities that everyone could participate in to ease frustration,” explained Elvira Sheikhova, People Champion of Kazakhstan CO. Staff counselors were readily available to anyone who needed additional support. There was a substantial increase in workload due to the pandemic, but the personnel continued to persevere due to their strong work ethic.

Kazakhstan CO supporting families in need
Kazakhstan CO supporting families in need

Besides supporting the office, Kazakhstan CO also wanted to ensure that they supported the government and their country. Jointly with other UN Agencies the UNDP team created three donation campaigns to help 180 families in need, and they successfully raised more than 1,360,000 KZT. As part of the COVID-19 response programme, the CO provided support to the Government of Kazakhstan in ensuring effective and efficient public service delivery for the most vulnerable groups by training over 1,000 civil servants in essential communication and teleworking skills.

Sao Tome and Principe Country Office help to maintain motivation remotely
In Sao Tome and Principe, staff support helped the team maintain their drive and motivation. The Sao Tome and Principe CO and essential staff provided continuous support to the UN Clinic and colleagues affected by COVID-19.

Sao Tome and Principe CO Staff
Sao Tome and Principe CO Staff

“Despite everything, we were able to surpass our goals,” Edlena Barros, the People Champion, states in her interview. The CO held weekly meetings for the entire office to provide additional information to colleagues and added coaching sessions and mental health sessions with in-office psychologists. Employees at the CO started to become more comfortable talking to one another and supporting each other through difficult times. “People started to care more about one another, and that became more visible,” Edlena remarked.

The Panama Country Office was prepared with virtual platform training
The office surveyed employees to figure out how to facilitate access to virtual platforms most effectively while guaranteeing secure connections. Senior management provided desktops to personnel who needed them at home. “COVID-19 created proof that you need people willing to do the job,” according to Jessica Young, the CPO for Environmental Change and Sustainable Development, and the People Champion for the Panama CO.

Panama CO did an excellent job of recreating working spaces in a virtual setting that allowed employees to feel connected to one another. Outside of the working environment, the Panama CO also created a virtual lounge to mimic how employees would interact in the office space. “This space is for the team. People can talk about whatever they want, and it is a safe place. We adapted and tried to use the tools we have available to feel still human.”

The Ghana Country Office accepted changes and worked quickly and efficiently
At the Ghana CO, lots of change happened quickly, but the office managed to remain open with the support of staff. Once COVID-19 was present in Ghana, the office informed everyone of the contingency plan that included a detailed moving forward process. The IT plan provided employees with a specific time slot to come to the office to pick up computers and internet bundles so they could work remotely. The cleaning staff for the Ghana CO was briefed and trained on sanitizing the office properly to ensure everyone’s equipment was safe. “Senior management prepared the office to move to a virtual setting, and it showed they prioritized the wellbeing of their staff,” Stephen Kansuk, the People Champion, explained. Training efforts carried out before COVID-19 paid off, enabling an easy transition to work from home.

Ghana CO Staff handing out Laptops to Employees
Ghana CO Staff handing out Laptops to Employees

“We have continued to evaluate measures throughout the process to ensure everything is still going smoothly,” Kansuk states. Ghana CO also provided stress counselors and psychologists that were available to all personnel. “One positive change that came out of this is the bond we’ve created between people in the office. This situation has encouraged teamwork, and staff has constantly checked in on one another to see how they are doing personally. We have focused on the mentality to stay kind, stay safe, and stay smart.”

Even though COVID-19 has increased physical distance between coworkers, these UNDP Country Offices have effectively managed to maintain the work ethic, support, and mission that UNDP stands for. People for 2030 highlights that UNDP’s people are the organization's greatest assets. To learn more about People for 2030, please visit the link below to view our website. To learn more about People for 2030, please visit the link below to view our website.

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