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Health and work-life balance

Focusing on our staff around the world

GIZ helps its staff to stay healthy and to achieve a good work-life balance. Particularly in difficult times, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, it becomes clear how important it is to support all our staff and to offer them targeted health and prevention measures. This requires good corporate health management (CHM). A large number of CHM initiatives at GIZ help to ensure that staff are able to cope with stress more effectively and that the company’s ability to deliver is maintained.

In addition, 2021 marked an important milestone in the development of GIZ’s corporate health management: after the company-wide Health Team was set up in 2013 and the HR Policy on CHM was adopted two years later, CHM was integrated into the field structure in 2021. Since June 2021, CHM has been an integral part of the corporate structure in the field. To reflect the global roll-out of our CHM system, the plan is to adopt the English term ‘corporate health management’, which is well established in the international context, also in Germany in the long term.

As conditions at GIZ’s locations in our countries of assignment vary, and as individual needs also differ in some cases from those in Germany, it was important to adapt the CHM concept to the field structure. The focus was on reducing health risks and increasing health literacy and the motivation to stay healthy among all staff in our partner countries. Initial insight on designing CHM in the field structure was obtained in 2018 in the country office in Tanzania; additional points were identified in a subsequent pilot project in which the GIZ locations in India, Mexico, Sudan and Uganda were involved.

To help GIZ’s offices to implement CHM, the CHM team put together a toolkit, which proved to be very useful during the pilot project. A series of information events were held in the second half of 2021 to raise awareness of CHM as a management tool within the company, particularly among country directors.

Staying healthy during the pandemic

In 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, GIZ’s Health Services Division was once again instrumental in maintaining the health, motivation and performance of staff across the globe. The unit offered advice to those responsible for health protection (Management Board, managers, staff, Staff Council), and provided active support through prevention measures.

In 2021, the Health Services teams once again cooperated closely with the Corporate Security Unit to advise the company on pandemic measures. They provided support on issues such as drawing up hygiene strategies and identifying risks. The COVID-19 safety instructions drafted in 2020 were updated, and further FAQs and fact sheets were produced.

In line with legal requirements, since April 2021 GIZ has been providing rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 to all GIZ staff who have to come into the office regularly to carry out their roles and, in so doing, are not able to maintain social distancing. Field staff and their families, in particular, were also given the option of receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at GIZ. The demand for throat swabs to conduct PCR tests for COVID-19 among staff and their families without symptoms before leaving the country and to reduce the period of self-isolation required abroad dropped considerably in 2021 as sufficient testing services outside GIZ were available by then.

Health management online

GIZ switched its corporate health management services to digital formats in 2020. In order to reach the workforce working remotely in Germany and abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital programme was continually updated and expanded in 2021. It includes a large range of options:

  • Health days and health courses

    GIZ’s first virtual and global Health Day took place at the end of January 2021. Some 30 events were held in English and German, and colleagues around the world logged in almost 2,000 times. Moreover, all the health courses were digitalised and compiled in an international list of courses in early 2021.

  • Step Challenge

    From August to October 2021, a CHM initiative got almost 1,000 staff members all over the world moving. They were taking part in GIZ’s ‘Step Challenge campaign: around the GIZ world in 80 days’. The aim was to team up to walk the distance from Indonesia to Mexico via a number of GIZ locations – a total of 36,020 kilometres. Twenty teams from 13 countries took up the Step Challenge. Every kind of sport counted, including walking, jogging, dancing and other forms of physical exercise (translated into steps) such as housework, yoga or using a wheelchair.

  • GIZ MOVES! – active break culture

    An active break culture has been established at GIZ. Throughout the world, 420 colleagues take part in exercise sessions during their breaks. A large number of short GIZ MOVES! videos and live stream formats are available, many of them inclusive. Since May 2021, GIZ MOVES! has also been building an international network of exercise multipliers.

  • Digital advice on ergonomic working

    With the continuation of remote working, demand for digital advice on ergonomic working was high as many staff members do not have ergonomic office furniture at their mobile workplace.

  • CHM network

    In January 2021, GIZ’s CHM team launched a CHM network with other companies. Three digital meetings were organised to give specialist staff from the 11 companies in the network an opportunity to discuss corporate health management in Germany and in the field.

Well positioned for health

Health Services is an independent division within the HR Department. The division consists of Medical Services (MED), the psychosocial counselling unit (COPE) and Corporate Health Management (CHM). Together, they support the company and help staff maintain and enhance their physical, mental and social wellbeing as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

  • Corporate Health Management aims to establish a healthy corporate culture that takes account of individual needs. This makes it a key element of GIZ’s policy on maintaining operational capacity. In this way, GIZ creates sustainable working structures and conditions that protect the long-term health of employees.
  • Medical Services (MED) offers advice to all those involved in employee health roles. Additional virtual preventive care formats have been developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical Services helps the company to implement laws and regulations on occupational medicine with the aim of creating a healthy working environment for all staff and strengthening approaches to good health.
  • Support from COPE is available to all employees who may be looking for advice on issues such as trauma, addiction or work-related stress as a result of particular events or circumstances at work or in their personal life. COPE develops preventive mental health services and helps implement them. This service is a key part of the holistic approach to employee health adopted by GIZ.

Information on the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be found on this page:

Graphic: GIZ: SDG 3 Good health and well-being

Information on the following sustainability standards can be found on this page:
GRI standard 403; UNGC 1, 2, 4; The Code 14