Wearing new thinking caps in our business unusual approach

Claire Medina (Deputy Resident Representative) and Madalitso Mbendera (Communications Analyst )

When the Jerusalema Challenge dance video started on social media, UNDP Malawi decided to jump on the trend, with the great dance skills of its staff. We set up to do our very own video with a twist that went beyond lifting the spirits of staff during the covid-19 pandemic.

Our video sets out to showcase what sets us apart, in line with the UNDP People for 2030 strategy - a dynamic, multicultural and fun place to work, welcoming to diverse high-performing professionals, dedicated to the UN values and changing the world for the better. How about that for a work environment?

In addition to boosting the current team, we hope it will also draw emerging and innovative fresh minds to join us during our recruitment drives and job announcements.

So, what are some of the reasons why we think UNDP Malawi is a great place to work?

  • From Foresighting to Sensemaking, from going digital to searching for alternative ways of doing things , our programme is on the forefront of applying innovation in development. Our Accelerator Lab is building new partnerships and testing local solutions for Malawi’s development.
  • From organic coffee to UHT milk our Challenge Fund supports over 50 innovative Malawian businesses creating over 2,000 jobs while a Growth Accelerator helps SMEs scale their ideas. Their sanitiser production and testing laboratories have been key in the Malawi response to covid 19. Buy Malawi helps us be part of the change we want to see!
  • 16 talented young Malawians have joined our team through a Young Professional Programme in place since 2018. Through the YPP, UN Volunteers and internships, we are hiring and building the next generation of development thought-leaders in Malawi, bringing in new ideas and rejuvenating the office.
  • By promoting gender equality in our programme – including women’s political empowerment – and equality and diversity in the workplace, we won a coveted UNDP Silver Gender Seal Certification in 2020.
  • We think green in everything we do and try to find local solutions at every step. Bicycles are available for staff for nearby work meetings and solar panels are getting rid of that polluting generator and keeping us working when the electricity goes out!

In parallel, we have worked hard to co-create with the team a range of initiatives to take care of those that dedicate their careers to making a difference to Malawi and its people. Here is a taster of some of those…

  • A two-week induction programme lands you in the office, while a mentor and coaching helps you along the way. There are plenty of opportunities to learn through online and face to face trainings, and with staff currently on detail in New York, Geneva and the Gambia – those interested in travel and international assignments can also grow their career!
  • An outdoor co-working space with plants and individual work cubicles, and a stand-up workstation has a Malawi theme using the famous ‘Chitenje’ fabric. Lots of sunlight whilst protecting the space from the rainy season – mean that it is usable throughout the year. Coming into our office, you might think you are in start-up rather than an International Organisation!
  • An innovative digital display keeps us all up to date with weekly activities and highlights other fun, quirky updates.  The social welfare and entertainment committee help us promote a supportive environment - from celebrating the arrival of babies, attending traditional ‘chinkhoswe’ weddings, to accompanying bereaved colleagues - the financial and emotional contribution  go a long way towards the wellbeing of staff during such moments in life
  • Our exercise programmes have gone digital to support the mental and physical wellness of staff during the pandemic with online aerobics, UN Challenge steps and weekly tips on how to work effectively and ergonomically during covid.
  • And finally, all our strategies put in place to ensure that we continue to work – and work safely - during the Covid-19 pandemic. Masks and sanitisers protect those out and about, while internet and computers help us be more effective working from home.

With more than 17 nationalities all in one office, we are a truly multicultural team with diverse partnerships across Government, civil society, universities and the private sector. As we see the successes, so we are also learning that even small things that may not appear significant to others, can have a big impact on wellbeing, productivity, the happiness scale, the excitement and motivation to come to work and smile at colleagues, all of which is part of UNDP People for 2030 Strategy.

Any other ideas? Please share them with us!

Watch our Jerusalema Dance Challenge on YouTube Here 

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