Leading well: Aid leader perspectives on staff well-being and organisational culture

Publication language
Date published
01 Apr 2021
Research, reports and studies
Working in conflict setting, Good health and well-being (SDG)

Humanitarian staff often work long hours in risky and stressful conditions. According to the research carried out by Dr Liza Jachens, aid workers are subject to burnout, mental illness, and negative coping mechanisms in some cases at more than double or triple the rates of the general population. Surprisingly, Jachens has found this phenomenon to be more linked to organisational stressors than to operational stressors.i Some humanitarian organisational cultures have been described as unhealthy, dysfunctional, toxic, macho, hostile and subject to a “martyrdom” or a “white saviour” complex. To adequately deliver on their mandate, humanitarian organisations have a duty of care to promote their national and international staff’s mental and physical well-being and avoid their long-term exhaustion, burnout, injury and illness. At the end of the tumultuous year of 2020, ICVA and the CHS Alliance invited 15 humanitarian leaders from among their shared members to participate in a project exploring the risks and opportunities associated with staff well-being and organisational culture.