fit to travel

How Do You Know A Person Is Psychologically Able To Work In A Dangerous Place?

At the start of the pandemic, the NGO Medair asked us to help them develop an online method for recruiting staff to work in places of conflict. This led our Psychosocial Director GRAHAM FAWCETT and Medair’s Staff Wellbeing Advisor DANIELA KRISOVA on a journey. Here’s their story. 

For people who don’t know, what does Medair do?

Daniela: We’re a humanitarian non-profit organisation that aims to relieve suffering in hard to reach places, especially among people affected by natural disasters and conflict. We help them recover with dignity through the delivery of quality humanitarian aid.

What problem did Medair come to Thrive with?

Graham: Before Medair deploys staff to these hard-to-reach places, they take them through a ‘Hazardous Environment Awareness Training’ course. Basically, they put them into simulated stressful environments for a couple of days and track their progress, to see if they would be ok in a real hazardous environment. When the pandemic hit, this course couldn’t be done in person. So Medair asked us to help them find a virtual or online solution.

Daniela: When this way of assessing international candidates for deployment was disrupted, our recruitment team had the idea of doing the assessments in VR simulations. But it was difficult for us, so we approached Thrive for help. 

So why did you choose Thrive?

Daniela: You’re our trusted partners and we have a long-lasting relationship. You’ve helped us in the past with health and psychological assessments and other questions we have had. So it was a natural choice.

What did you do when Medair approached you, Graham?

Graham: We ran through a couple of scenarios. For example, could we embed people in an online video game which would have stressful situations? But it sounded complicated, expensive and didn’t seem right. I then had a conversation with a colleague who had the idea of doing a Hogan Personality Assessment. This is a tool to help assess a person’s suitability for a role, and it includes a safety component, which is used to assess people who work in high risk environments, like the aeronautics industry or NASA. We concluded this would be a good tool to use, and so we set the parameters of that particular assessment in such a way that would help us predict whether or not people would do well in a dangerous environment, be at risk in such a place, or be an absolute ‘no’. 

And how did it go?

Daniela: We thought it was a very valuable tool. When a candidate did a Hogan Assessment, they would then have a discussion with the Thrive team, who would then produce a detailed report. This report could contribute to a decision about best placement for a candidate.

Graham: Some people said that it was like reading their mind! We got fascinating insights into individuals, including their willingness to take risk and the ability to manage it. The conversations helped us understand the nature of the people going into the field. And we found we were able to make suggestions as to whether people were ok to deploy to somewhere like Yemen or not.

Daniela: And not only did it benefit our recruitment process, but every individual on our team who was going through the process got a chance to look at their own potential behaviour when being in highly or moderately stressful situations.

Do you think this has value post-pandemic? 

Graham: Yes absolutely. I think the Hogan Assessment adds value to any individual or team. An organisation obtains extra insights about their staff. The results can also be an opportunity to identify areas of coaching within your team. And so it definitely can be used in the future. As it can be done online, it can save a lot of costs. For Thrive, this has propelled a new way of thinking about candidate assessment and we will definitely use the Hogan Assessment not only on high risk teams but teams in more routine environments as well.

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