UNDP Cameroon: Upholding the well-being of its staff for scaled-up productivity

February 9, 2023

In 2022, UNDP Cameroon, through its ever-dedicated team across the country, worked tirelessly in some of the most challenging areas to impact the lives of thousands of vulnerable Cameroonian youths, women, populations, and communities. The dynamic staff who make up the family of this engaged organisation faced challenges common to working environments, including work-related stress and an insufficient work-life balance, which at times reduce work motivation.

A cross-section of the new UNDP Cameroon Staff Restaurant

photo: PNUD-CMR/ Communcation Unit

"Keeping fit helps me to release stress and provides me with a relaxed mind and the right energy to do my work. However, meeting up with my keep-fit routine was difficult; by the time I reached home from work, it was tough for me to make it to the sporting facilities in my area." Thomas Vifieh, one of UNDP Cameroon's longest-serving staff member, explains. "For me, I didn’t feel comfortable taking my lunch. The lunch space was not convenient, and eating at my desk was not convenient either," adds Jacqueline Mewena, another long-serving staff member of the organisation.

Most staff agree that keeping fit, just like taking a lunch break away from their desks, improves their job performance and mental clarity and, gives the brain the break it needs to prevent mental burnout. Conscious of this, UNDP Cameroon's management is working with its staff to improve the working environment and scale up the team's        well-being to have a greater impact on their lives and the lives of the vulnerable youths, women, populations, and communities for whom the organisation works.

As part of its endeavors, the organisation has refurbished the office’s restaurant to competitive standards and made it accessible for its staff and the staff of other UN Offices. The restaurant is fully equipped for both coffee breaks and lunch breaks. With a well-tailored restaurant management plan, employees are allowed to serve their own food from home or buy food from the exquisite and diverse menu of the restaurant. Also, the organisation has equipped a comfortable multipurpose sporting room for staff to keep fit at their convenience while respecting working hours. Other actions include the maximisation of training opportunities and detailed assignments for staff to improve their skills for the benefit of the organisation and the staff.

A cross-section of the UNDP Cameroon Sports Room

photo: PNUD-CMR/ Communcation Unit

"We hold the well-being of our staff and their working environment at the heart of our operations. Staff spend a greater part of their day in the office; it is, therefore, critical for us to provide them with a conducive working environment so they can flourish. We have upgraded our restaurant to a beautiful, hygienic, reliable, and          cost-effective place where our staff can leave their offices for a moment and have their lunch while breathing some fresh air and relaxing with their colleagues. This will contribute to relieving their stress while re-energising themselves for better work and impact." UNDP Cameroon’s Acting Resident Representative, Alassane Ba, explains.

"Also, we have set up an inclusive sports room where employees are allowed to go for sports before and after working hours. This will enable them to have a ‘healthy mind in a healthy body’, and the right working energy." Alasane Ba, RR a.i., adds.

The staff is very pleased with the improvements: they are more motivated and engaged in scaling up their work, as they enjoy the various initiatives implemented to improve their well-being. "The new restaurant is very good. This friendly and relaxing space will allow colleagues to meet during their lunch break, have fun, and return to work with dynamism." According to Jacqueline Mewena. "The initiatives exceed my expectations; I am more than satisfied. The sports room has made life easier for me. Today, after work, I change into my sportswear and move straight into the sports room." Thomas Vifieh adds.

The Inauguration of the Restaurant by UNDP Cameroon's RRa.i., Alassane Ba, and colleagues of UNDP, UNDSS, UNV, and the RC’s Office

photo: PNUD-CMR/ Communcation Unit

These feelings echo even more in the office of the UNDP Cameroon Personnel Association. "The staff association is pleased with the commitment of the organisation's management to improving staff welfare. The management has indeed embarked on walking the ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ talk, by refurbishing the restaurant and setting up a sports and leisure facility in the office. In response to these changes, the staff has not stopped expressing gratitude to the organisation's management for their concern and attention."  Denis Emmanuel Matute, president of the UNDP Cameroon Personnel Association, agrees while encouraging staff to ensure the facilities’ upkeep and sustainability.

As for the Organisation’s HR Associate, Christiane Mapenya, these initiatives, including various staff recreational activities and flexible leave management, are significantly enhancing the overall mental, physical, emotional, and economic health of the staff, and favoring the work-life balance and quality of their work.