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Healthy staff - worldwide

GIZ has a comprehensive health management system in place to enhance the resilience of staff and train them to cope with stressful situations.

Photo: Several people walking up a rocky slope.
An exercise and wellness day for all was one of the highlights of the CHM activities.
© Wellspring

Staff members at GIZ’s Cairo office regularly go for walks together. What might sound like a fun leisure activity is actually an initiative designed to enhance staff health. It is part of GIZ’s Corporate Health Management (CHM). Maintaining staff members’ health and enhancing their resilience is one of GIZ’s highest priorities. This is motivated, on the one hand, by concern for their welfare and, on the other hand, by the fact that happy, resilient and healthy staff perform better and therefore help to ensure the company’s future viability.

Adopting a holistic approach to health

Even in its third year, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to have a strong influence on the work of our health services. Along with actual physical measures such as vaccinations and hygiene strategies, we created new services in 2022 to address the mental health and social challenges caused by the pandemic. We have a holistic understanding of health that incorporates physical, psychological and social aspects. Our Medical Services, psychosocial counselling service (COPE) and Corporate Health Management (CHM) put that philosophy into practice. It enables us to give our staff the best possible support – and not just with regard to stress related to the pandemic.

The COPE team alone registered 2,000 psychosocial counselling sessions with GIZ staff and their families in 2022. The issues were often related to psychosocial stress caused by the crisis situations and fragile conditions in our countries of assignment, by excessive workloads, by conflicts in the workplace, or by personal crises.

We added questions about psychological stress at work to our anonymous staff survey for the first time in 2022. As a result, we now have company-wide data we can use to perform a psychological risk assessment, and which serves as a basis for putting targeted measures in place within the company. Follow-on measures included developing an information manual for managers, for example. The guidelines and assessments they include are designed to help managers recognise and reduce psychological stress at work.

An extract from GIZ’s understanding of health

‘As part of our duty of care and in the interest of the company’s long-term viability, ensuring the wellbeing of our staff is among GIZ’s top priorities. To ensure a high level of performance over the long term is an element of GIZ’s corporate principles and therefore shapes our values and understanding of corporate activity.’

Photo: A woman and man from the corporate health management team demonstrating fitness exercises.
CHM’s COVID-related digitalisation turned out to be a stroke of luck. Virtual services such as ‘GIZ MOVES! The active break culture’ were continuously adapted to staff needs and expanded in 2022. © GIZ / Anke Langer
Photo: A woman and a man showing their smartphone displays with the number of steps they have taken.
A Step Challenge in 2022 involved achieving the equivalent of climbing to the top of the world, i.e. walking the same distance as the height of Mount Everest, in 50 days. 26 teams from 16 countries took part in the event. The Step Challenge ended once the first three teams (from GIZ India, Kenya and Bangladesh) had reached the goal of 17,696 kilometres. © Kai Hubert

Measures connected with the COVID-19 pandemic

  • GIZ offered COVID-19 vaccinations at the beginning of 2022. Take-up was very good.
  • Members of staff and their managers who are suffering from the (long-term) effects of COVID-19 can contact GIZ Health Services for advice on how to deal with a restricted ability to work, for example, and other issues.
  • We ran a number of awareness-raising events on the subject of pandemic-related stress and supplied information to country, project and management teams in Germany and abroad.
  • GIZ supported project and country teams in reorganising their collaboration on their return to the office after working remotely, and also in implementing hybrid working models in the long term.

Improving conditions worldwide

Many of our health services are available for staff worldwide. However, GIZ offices outside Germany can also create their own Corporate Health Management structures. For instance, they can put individual health measures in place that are tailored to the precise needs at the local level. A total of 29 countries and regions are now in the process of rolling out their own health management systems.

Egypt is one of those countries. Walks around Cairo are just one of the programme’s components. Others include online stress management training, mindfulness workshops, ergonomic tips and advice on healthy eating. ‘The goal is to promote a culture of corporate health. And this requires much more than just sports courses,’ says Dania Haytham, the focal point for Corporate Health Management at GIZ Egypt.

Photo: A smiling young woman using coloured pens to colour in mandalas in a book.
Staff can give free rein to their creativity during active breaks © GIZ / Selma Serageldin
Photo: A tablet showing a video conference view.
© GIZ / Dania Haytham
A few examples of Corporate Health Management activities in Egypt

Staff attended online seminars to learn about breathing techniques for reducing stress

Photo: Four smiling people, some with tennis rackets, standing on a tennis court.
© Fatma Makeen
A few examples of Corporate Health Management activities in Egypt

They tried out new sports together, such as padel-tennis.

Photo: Several people practising yoga.
© GIZ / Hana Amin
A few examples of Corporate Health Management activities in Egypt

Yoga classes were also part of the wide-ranging health programme

Below you will find information about the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability standards:

Material topic 10: Work-life balance and employee health