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Human resources

In line with War Child’s strategy to empower children in areas affected by armed conflict, War Child’s goal in human resources is to empower its employees in their role within War Child. A goal in 2012 was to improve human resources services to the organisation. Human resources standards were further developed and implemented in all departments and programme countries.

A few highlights in the field of human resources:

  • The human resources advisor from head office trained the entire Burundi team on people and performance management. This contributed greatly to role clarity, to team building and to the empowerment of all staff;
  • Empowerment also implies encouraging national staff in their professional development and, if possible, appointing national staff in senior positions in a country team. In 2012 three national staff members were appointed to country management positions;
  • All head office management staff participated in a fully sponsored leadership programme. Because of a restructuring and placing managers in new positions, this programme was a good start and will be expanded next year. Leadership development has also been added to the briefing programme for new staff.
  • The performance management cycle, started in 2011 to increase result orientation, learning and professional development, received more dedicated and on-going attention in 2012.
  • The appointment of a dedicated recruiter helped to improve recruitment quality and process, contributing to better and timely communication with potential candidates, and our reputation as an employer.

Field offices 20122011201020092008
Number of expatriates in senior positions3031312627
Number of local employees in senior positions17181789
Number of local employees in other positions268258247264273
Average number of years employed: senior positions*
Average age in senior positions*4039414240
Male-female ratio in senior positions42%47%45%42%41%
(number of men/total)*     
Number of nationalities in senior positions*1622---
Number of senior positions changing location or position within War Child 11%14%---
Amsterdam head office     
Full Time Equivalent (FTE)**6761544844
Average number of years employed44433
Average age 3939373638
Male-female ratio (number of men/total)33.5%34%32%27%35%
Number of nationalities65---
Number of senior positions changing location or position within War Child14%16%   
Absence due to illness (percentage)6%4%3%5%3%

* Until 2010 this figure included expatriates only, it did not include national staff in senior positions ** Interns and volunteers excluded

These figures reflect War Child’s human resources strategy. First, the growing number of national staff in senior positions shows the emphasis on building the capacity of national staff in programme countries. War Child encourages the hiring of local staff, taking into consideration the importance of being able to navigate the local context in order to work effectively, while also recognizing the lower availability of qualified local employees. Overall, the retention rate of employees is slowly increasing demonstrating that the attention paid to Human Resources Management is paying off. One of the ways War Child encourages retention is by actively stimulating rotation of War Child staff between programme countries. Although some experienced staff members left the organisation in 2012, the average years of service increased to 4 years.


Employees of War childVolunteers remained an important human resource for War Child. At head office, 48 volunteers and 27 interns worked for War Child; some provided short-term support, others have been supporting War Child for several years. The time they dedicate to War Child equals almost 15 FTE, which is of substantial value to the organisation.

The team of voluntary spokespeople raised awareness and gave over 250 presentations on War Child’s work in 2012. This year we focused on expanding of the number of spokespeople from 40 to 65 and training them to be able to raise funds and reach even more people next year.

Lessons learned

In 2012, health-related absenteeism at head office rose to a 6% average. This was caused by different organisational changes such as the restructuring of the Marketing, Fundraising and Communications department and the change of the executive director, in combination with a heavy workload. Due to focused and collective efforts on the issues at stake and thanks to the support and coaching of War Child’s health and welfare service, the percentage of health-related absenteeism decreased in the second half of the year 2012.

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