Lars Johansson (back row, second from right) with some of his team during the swimrun event in Sweden
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Health & Wellness
Need Help Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions? Your Boss Could Be Your Best Ally
Need Help Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions? Your Boss Could Be Your Best Ally
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Talk about team spirit. These three Johnson & Johnson managers got their employees to put their health first, including one director who convinced his staff to train for a 9K swimrun.

anuary is here—as evidenced by the longer wait times for a treadmill at the gym, your renewed dedication to smoothies for breakfast and that list of resolutions to tackle in the year to come.

Need some help to stay on track? Johnson & Johnson workers need look no further than their own employer for just that.

In 2016, the company set a goal to inspire at least 100,000 employees by 2020 to be at their personal best when it came to their health and well-being.

To help them achieve that, Johnson & Johnson has rolled out several programs in support of having the healthiest workforce, from a two-day course called Energy for Performance® (E4P) that more than 60,000 people have completed so far to a Healthy & Me™ app employees can download for tracking their steps, sleep and food intake, among other health-focused perks.

As if that weren’t ample opportunity to get healthier, some company managers have upped the ante even more.

To wit: These three leaders and their teams are not only living up to the company goal of becoming the healthiest workforce in the world by next year, but they’re also encouraging each other to set—and stick to—goals they never thought were possible.


“I inspired my team to train for and participate in a 9K race.”
Lars Johansson, Managing Director, Janssen Nordics & Baltics

Lars Johansson Lars Johansson,Managing Director, Janssen Nordics & Baltics has the particular challenge of overseeing employees in multiple different countries, which can make it tough for everyone to feel like they’re part of the same group. A few years ago, in an effort to foster more connections across his team, Johansson took his staff on a daylong hike in the Norwegian mountains—and everyone loved it. “They told me how great it was to do something ‘real,’ versus a typical company event,” Johansson says.

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Janssen Nordics & Baltics employees kick off the swimrun

Then Johansson ran into a friend who told him about a race where competitors swim from one island to another, and then run across it—a total of 9 kilometers. “I immediately thought it would be something everybody could do,” he says, “and I announced that we’d be doing it together at my kickoff meeting last January.”

The swimrun was in August, which gave the team seven months to train. Johansson told his employees that if it sounded a little crazy, that’s because it was.

“I knew we’d need to prepare mentally and physically,” he says. “But when you overcome your fears, the satisfaction is greater than if you’d done something more orchestrated.”

I always tried to stress that this wasn’t about the competition. This was about getting the benefit out of the journey. It was about learning that when you dare to take a big step, you get to watch as amazing things happen.

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And so employees who hadn’t run in 10 years started jogging. Those who didn’t want to race helped lead safety measures, and plotted how they’d act as support crew on race day. Most joined a social media group, where people shared training plans, tips and ice bucket challenge-style videos to encourage each other.

“It was like a snowball, and as it grew, everyone got closer,” Johansson says. “Everyone became so motivated. Regardless of what type of job or where they worked, they had this unknown thing in front of them that their crazy manager had decided they’d all do.”

On August 22—race day—all 300 employees either competed or supported their colleagues in crossing the finish line in Utö, Sweden. And almost immediately after the race, many said they’d like to do it again the next year.

“I always tried to stress that this wasn’t about the competition; it was about doing something together to have fun and do something good for ourselves,” Johansson says. “This was about getting the benefit out of the journey. It was about learning that when you dare to take a big step, you get to watch as amazing things happen.”


“I’m trying to make our office culture healthier in small—but impactful—ways.”
Michelle Lynch, Senior Director of Sales Learning and Development, Janssen Immunology

While it was more than two decades ago that Michelle Lynch Michelle Lynch,Senior Director of Sales Learning and Development, Janssen Immunology made the switch from being a salesperson out in the field to having a leadership position in Johnson & Johnson’s Horsham, Pennsylvania, office, she vividly remembers how the transition affected her eating and exercise habits.

“When you’re in the field, you’re walking around all day, and you’re lucky to have time for lunch,” she says. “When you’re at a desk, there’s a cafeteria down the hall, and you’re in meetings with pastries and cookies on the table.”

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Lynch (center) and her healthy staff

Lynch sees many of her team members similarly move from active to more sedentary roles, and she wanted to create a healthier office culture with fewer temptations and more opportunities to move every day. So, inspired by her participation in E4P, she started implementing some changes.

First, she instituted energy breaks that encourage people to stretch at regular intervals. She’s also banned junk food from the office kitchen—replacing the candy and chips that used to be stocked there with fruit, nuts, granola bars and other healthier options—and bought a blender so employees can make smoothies instead of drinking soda and coffee.

Lynch's team has collectively lost more than 100 pounds. Everyone is reporting that they’re drinking more water and packing healthier lunches—and that it’s all leading to incredible personal transformations.

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And to make working out truly workable, Lynch has instituted Fitness Fridays, where team members are encouraged to plan their schedule around exercising, even if that means they have to break a little early. She’s also added a treadmill desk to the office. “I even get folks from other departments who want to use it,” Lynch says.

The best part of all of these little changes is that they’re paying off big for Lynch's team, which has collectively lost more than 100 pounds. Other employees have started spin class competitions, urging each other to take a certain number of classes each week, while also tracking their weight to see who’s losing the most. Everyone is reporting that they’re drinking more water and packing healthier lunches—and that it’s all leading to incredible personal transformations.

“I’m so thankful that the team has really embraced making health a priority,” Lynch says. “Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to helping their employees get healthier has created a culture that gives people the license to do something for themselves. And once you’re in this mindset, anything is possible.”


“I encouraged my co-workers to stop smoking.”
Helga Peeters, Manufacturing Team Lead, Janssen Pharmaceuticals

For Helga Peeters Helga Peeters,Manufacturing Team Lead, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and four of her fellow night shift colleagues in Antwerp, Belgium, work breaks meant one thing: time for a smoke. But when Johnson & Johnson instituted a comprehensive smoking ban on all of its premises, that became a lot more inconvenient—which inspired Peeters to talk her co-workers into making an effort to quit.

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Peeters' team kicks the cigarette habit, literally and figuratively

“Our breaks are 30 minutes long,” she says. “And leaving the premises to go smoke eats away at more than half of that time. As a team coach, I mentioned to everyone that since the place where we can smoke is so far away, why don’t we try not doing it?”

Out of five smokers, four agreed to Peeters’ plan. (They’re still trying to win over the fifth person.) The colleagues bring in treats to tamp down cigarette cravings, and support each other by sharing tips for tasty snacks that they find replace their urge to smoke. Sometimes they even go for walks during their second break, and share ideas on workouts.

As a result of their pact, each of Peeters’ team members say they are smoking less than before—and they’re not smoking extra cigarettes after work to compensate like they feared they might. Even better, quitting smoking completely is an intention for 2019.

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“It’s been hard—and it can be especially hard to go without a cigarette when we have to work longer hours,” Peeters acknowledges. “But not smoking during work breaks has proven to be a lot easier when you don’t have to do it on your own.”

As a result of their pact, each of Peeters’ team members say they are smoking less than before—and they’re not smoking extra cigarettes after work to compensate like they feared they might. Even better, quitting smoking completely is an intention for 2019.

“That’s the next step,” Peeters says.

The Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute® can help teach you how to manage your energy reserves throughout the new year.

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