Results of the Return to the Workplace Psychosocial Preparedness Survey

07 Oct 2021

In preparation for return to the workplace, UNON Joint Medical Service carried out a survey in March/April this year to evaluate psychosocial preparedness of the UN staff. All the UN agencies were involved and about 1,000 staff members participated in the study.

While almost all the agencies participated, the following agencies had the highest number of participants: UN Environment (19%); UNON (13%); UNICEF (11%); UN- Habitat (10%); and IOM (8%).

In terms of the age, most of the participants fell between 36-55 followed by those between 46-55years old. Majority of the participants were female at 65% while 33 were male and the rest did not disclose their gender.

Experiences: Staff members had different experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic; while some experienced some sense of fear, hopelessness, and anxiety (about 35%) others struggled with loss of loved ones, the act of balancing work and life, strained relationships at home and work.

Impact: The Covid-19 had impacted staff members in different ways and the most common were sleeping and eating problems (25%) others went through burnout (18%); withdrawal from social networks (11%); difficulty concentrating on work (10%) while others struggled with depression and other mental health challenges (5%).

Staff Concerns about Return to workplace: Some of the staff members looked forward to return to the workplace, however, a few expressed concerns about health and safety (65%)- but with the Covid-19 vaccination, there is a high likelihood that this has changed. Other staff members were concerned about re-adjusting back to office (45%); and insecurity about meeting colleagues (25%) was expressed and concern about delegating homecare responsibilities (20%).

Preferred Mode of Psychosocial support: Considering the stress related to pandemic, it was important to find out the psychosocial support needed; and group counseling, debrief and talks from staff counsellors and the JMS team emerged as key during the transition period.

Critical topics to be addressed in group counseling and talks: Loss and grief, self-care, anxiety management, workload management, readjustment counseling and personal development.

Needed Psychosocial Trainings: According to the survey, the trainings that need to be prioritized include work-life balance; burnout; self-care and esteem; and how to deal with anxiety and depression, resilience, and empathy training.

Training for managers: From the qualitative data, training of managers emerged as a priority issue bearing in mind their role of supporting staff as they come back to work and addressing work-based conflict and burnout.

Conclusion: In response to the expressed needs and back to office, under JMS, the counseling unit has started virtual support groups and over 100 staff members have joined different support groups. The support groups include:

  • Navigating Loss and Grief (death, separation/divorce, separation from loved ones)
  • Facing Addiction in Family (struggling with a child or spouse addiction)
  • Road to Recovery from Abuse/Violence 
  • Parenting Adolescence
  • Parenting Adult children
  • Cancer Survivors
  • Parenting Preteens
  • Recovering from Mental Health
  • Recovering from Addictive Behavior
  • Parenting Challenged Children
  • UN Plus (HIV care & treatment, support for affected/infected)


There are other support groups that have been suggested by staff members and they will be announced soon.

Online training is also going on; and some of them topics include Resilience Building, Stress, Loss and Grief Management, Empathy Training for Leaders, Work-Life balance, Burnout and Dealing with Anxiety and Depression.  Teams/ departments can reach out and these trainings will be provided to their units. Tailor made trainings can also be made for your section once the needs are expressed. 

Meanwhile, face to face psychosocial support continues to be provided to enhance mental wellness during this period.

To book for any of the above programs or for more information - Call 0793 484 333 / 0728 961 939

Keep Healthy & Safe!

Book a Wellness Check with JMS today – or call 020-7622267 for details

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Useful Links: WHO-COVID-19 ; JMS website ; What to do when ill Mental health & wellbeing

Posted on: 07 Oct 2021