Objective 3.2

Adequate and timely recruitment, deployment and retention of qualified and diverse staff

OCHA’s response to peak demands requires versatile and adaptable staffing solutions. Continued presence in a range of challenging crises also demonstrates the need for a continuous supply of qualified and diverse staff.

Responding to emergencies, OCHA now has well-established mechanisms for immediate short-term staffing, or surge. The organization relies on a combination of emergency personnel from external sources and OCHA staff who can be deployed immediately. To support the transition from surge to regular staffing, OCHA is adding capacity to bridge possible gaps upon the drawdown of surge personnel, especially at senior levels.

These and other related measures are part of a newly formulated approach to quickly attain operational stability in the context of a new emergency, or when a crisis is escalating. OCHA is increasing its efforts to ensure that everything is in place: adequate human and material resources; and support systems for new field operations, including a properly managed budget and workplan, and accommodation, transport and other elements. The priority is to ensure that OCHA can rapidly take on its core functions and provide humanitarian leadership.

A key component of this approach will be to promote better-targeted staffing solutions for emergencies. In 2012-2013, OCHA will look to boost its surge capacity through a strong emphasis on technical and language skills among those taking part in surge initiatives. At senior level, three roaming emergency surge officers will be deployed. OCHA will also change the regulations and incentives in its Emergency Response Roster (ERR) to offer more opportunities to senior OCHA staff. OCHA will provide a support package of care to surge staff before, during and after deployment. OCHA will continue its efforts to improve staff succession and continuity in emergencies by extending surge deployments through regional offices, and by strengthening the capacity for mid-term or “bridging” surge to avoid staffing gaps between the initial response phase and the arrival of long-term staff.

In terms of regular staffing, within the last five years OCHA has increased its staff in the field by 40 per cent. While managing a substantially larger body of staff, OCHA achieved a lower average vacancy rate across its field locations, from 20 to 15 per cent by mid-2011. Building on this achievement, OCHA aims to address its broader human resources challenges by implementing a coherent approach to sourcing talent, developing staff capacity and managing people.

The implementation of OCHA’s roster system has successfully ensured timely, longer-term recruitment of staff to a wide range of duty stations. However, lessons learned point to the difficulty of filling positions in non-family duty stations and retaining staff there. This includes positions requiring specific language skills. To complement the hundreds of profiles on the roster, OCHA will invest additional resources in outreach and targeted recruitment of senior staff for key field positions in countries such as Afghanistan, DRC, Pakistan and Sudan. This is to ensure continuous senior leadership and adequate capacities where these are most needed.

OCHA will put emphasis on striking the right balance between promoting mobility and retaining staff. In 2010, OCHA filled 150 field positions, around 40 per cent of all field positions, through a mix of external candidates and internal staff movement. This clearly demonstrates OCHA’s ability to respond to staffing requirements in field locations and to promote staff mobility. Considering the significant number of new incumbents in the field, OCHA will focus on retaining these staff to sustain OCHA’s capacity to meet operational demands.

To a large extent, the ability to attract and retain staff is tied to the availability of career development and opportunities for professional growth, including predictable, consistent and transparent requirements for staff mobility. It is not feasible for OCHA to establish internal career paths linked to promotion, due to the limited number of existing senior positions. However, OCHA anticipates that in December 2012 the General Assembly will adopt measures on geographic mobility. These measures will introduce a framework allowing for managed mobility to ensure staff movement between Headquarters and the field. OCHA will ensure that the necessary administrative arrangements are in place to allow for prompt implementation of a Secretariat-wide mobility policy, including the establishment of standardized assignment lengths for positions considered part of a managed mobility programme.

In the field, OCHA relies on the administrative support of service providers such as UNDP and WFP. Efforts to enter into an agreement to standardize and streamline the service provision to OCHA field offices have been put on hold by the UN Secretariat. In its place, OCHA will finalize an internal review of the provision of administrative services to its field offices to provide options for improving current arrangements.

An integral part of these services includes the administration of OCHA’s national staff, currently administered by UNDP. In 2012-2013, OCHA will work to bring these staff into the Secretariat framework to demonstrate that their contribution, often under difficult and challenging circumstances, is given due and full recognition. This would entail focus on setting up the systems to satisfactorily administer OCHA’s 900 national field staff.

Result 1: Targeted and effective staffing solutions to support emergency response
Indicator 1. Strengthened capacity for senior surge and surge package of care
BASELINE 2011

OCHA’s surge capacity has improved considerably across the board in recent years. But surge capacity at more senior levels is not yet reliable and sizeable enough. Additional measures are required and multiple solutions will be pursued. Changes will be proposed in the ERR so that it becomes easier and more attractive for senior staff to make themselves available. SCS will add a P-5 category to the new ASP modality, with a focus on former OCHA staff who have previously served in leadership positions. Another essential component will be hiring three roaming emergency surge officers (RESOs) at P-4 and P-5 levels. Surge will be further supported through a care package consisting of: i) PREPARE (deployment briefings, pre-mission info, face-to-face training and capacity development); ii) SUPPORT (continuous contact during deployments, referrals); and iii) DEBRIEFING (operational and personal).

TARGET 2012

(a)New ERR regulations implemented.

(b)ASP P-5s on board.

(c)RESOs recruited.

(d)60 per cent of surge deployments supported through the care package.

TARGET 2013

(a)No more gaps in internal senior surge (P-5 HoO-type surge assignments).

(b)80 per cent of surge deployments supported through the care package.

Indicator 2. Improved succession and continuity in staffing of emergency response
BASELINE 2011

No existing comprehensive/integrated policy on achieving operational stability through surge, regular (longer-term) staff and supporting infrastructure (work/costplans, logistics, etc.) is in place. Development of succinct document that describes, in generic terms, what actions need to be taken by whom in new or escalating emergencies. This is to ensure that a new or growing OCHA presence reaches a stable state as soon as possible in otherwise fluid circumstances, so that it can effectively discharge its functions and responsibilities.

TARGET 2012

SOP considered and approved by SMT and implementation begun (including further workshops).

TARGET 2013

SOP used as guiding tool in all relevant emergencies leading to the earlier attainment of operational stability in new or escalating emergencies.

Indicator 3. Effective recruitment for non-family duty stations, including targeted outreach to attract specific groups of candidates
BASELINE 2011

There are persistent difficulties in attracting qualified candidates for positions requiring specific language skills and senior positions in non-family duty stations through available roster candidates. There is a limited pool of diverse and female candidates (e.g. only 30 per cent of all professional staff in the field are female; females comprise only 27 per cent of field staff at the P-5 and above level). Recent OHRM outreach missions to Member States were not geared toward OCHA requirements. There is scope for tailoring OCHA key job profiles to better match operational requirements.

TARGET 2012

(a) Vacancy rate for non-family duty stations less than 25 per cent.

(b) One to two outreach campaigns conducted by June 2012 to target a wider pool of senior candidates to serve in non-family duty stations, including diverse and female candidates.

(c) Key job profiles revised based on consultations with OCHA field offices and HQ branches.

TARGET 2013

(a) Vacancy rate for non-family duty station further reduced from 2012 baseline.

(b) Recruitment of female field staff higher than the ratio of female staff in the field at the end of 2012.

Result 2: Enhanced career development through managed mobility
Indicator 1. Prompt implementation of forthcoming UN Secretariat mobility policy
BASELINE 2011

The lack of a mandatory mobility policy for the UN Secretariat leaves OCHA without the possibility of enforcing a managed mobility programme and addressing the limited rotation of staff between HQs and the field.

TARGET 2012

(a) Staff-member database developed, including level, duty station, duration at duty station and previous duty stations, and skill set inventory by Q2.

(b) Determination of positions to be considered part of a managed mobility programme.

TARGET 2013

Managed mobility exercise undertaken upon approval of the General Assembly.

Indicator 2. Improved understanding of staff attitudes, including on career development and mobility
BASELINE 2011

The appointment of a new senior management echelon, restructuring of select units to ensure that the organization is fit for purpose and OCHA's commitment to improving field effectiveness have introduced a renewed focus on human resources management, including the development of a corporate Human Resources strategy. Staff attitudes and perception of progress are indicators of whether these changes are addressing priority areas and issues of concern to staff.

TARGET 2012

Completion of global staff survey, which is expected to cover career development, mobility, staff-management relations, performance management, working environment, etc; the survey will allow OCHA to identify specific human resources and management-related issues requiring targeted action.

TARGET 2013

Target will be developed based on the results of the 2012 survey

Result 3: Standardized and more effective administrative service provided to the field
Indicator 1. Review of administrative services provision to the field offices
BASELINE 2011

Lack of standardization, consistency and accountability in the provision of services from third-party service providers, e.g. UNDP and WFP.

TARGET 2012

(a)Study concluded providing recommendations on the optimal arrangements for service provision in the field, including the possibility for regional service centres.

(b)Action plan in place following senior management review.

TARGET 2013

Senior management-endorsed recommendations implemented, or under implementation, to standardize and streamline the provision of administrative services to OCHA field offices.

Indicator 2. Legal status of OCHA’s national field staff settled
BASELINE 2011

Ambiguity regarding the legal status of national field staff serving with OCHA (Secretariat vs. UNDP) has had an adverse effect on the effective administration of these staff members, and on their opportunities for career development in the UN Secretariat.

TARGET 2012

Targets are contingent upon the findings of the review of administrative services provision to the field offices.

TARGET 2013

Targets are contingent upon the findings of the review of administrative services provision to the field offices.

Indicator 3. Enhanced capacity for administrative support in field offices
BASELINE 2011

Scope for enhanced capacity of field administrative staff in providing HR support and guidance to field staff.

TARGET 2012

(a)Updated field operations manual.

(b)Development of training plan and schedule of implementation for field administration staff, including decision on the timetable of field administration workshop.

TARGET 2013

Implemented training plan, including field administration workshop, to better equip field administrative staff to provide guidance and advise on HR-related issues to OCHA field staff.