This healthcare company is determined to have the healthiest employees in the world
Johnson & Johnson is marching toward a lofty goal: help 100,000+ employees be at their personal best when it comes to their health and well-being by 2020. Here’s how it’s getting the job done.
At the start of the 20th century, the concept of “workplace wellness,” if it had existed, would have been an oxymoron: The American Industrial Revolution was afoot, and many workers were putting in long hours in dangerous conditions without breaks or benefits.
But Johnson & Johnson has always been more of a trend starter than a follower.
More than a century ago, the company bucked convention by offering employees in New Brunswick, New Jersey, access to an on-site health center, as well as fitness facilities, complete with a swimming pool and a basketball court.
By the 1970s, “CEO James Burke started a groundbreaking wellness program called Live for Life®,” says Peter Fasolo, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Johnson & Johnson.
Live for Life sought to help Johnson & Johnson employees become some of the healthiest in the world through on-site access to behavior modification tools and education on topics like nutrition, stress management and more. “As a result of that initiative,” says Fasolo, “we were the first company to be tobacco-free, as well as one of the first to promote employee safe driving and to have a global HIV prevention program.”
Since then, Johnson & Johnson has continued to be an industry leader, most notably with its best-in-class health and well-being programs and such work-life offerings as expanded parental leave policies, fertility and surrogacy support and generous veterans’ benefits, just to name a few. “We’re meeting employees in a 21st century manner to help them balance and lead a purpose-driven life,” explains Fasolo.
This week, Fasolo will be speaking at the Lake Nona Impact Forum, an annual gathering in Orlando, Florida, that gives thought leaders from healthcare and the tech sector a chance to exchange ideas.
And given that Johnson & Johnson is on track to reach its stated goal of engaging 100,000 or more employees toward a personal best in health and well-being by 2020, it has a lot of insight to share.
“We know that we have one of the healthiest workforces,” Fasolo says. Here’s how: First, he says, the company’s health stats—like obesity rates and triglyceride levels—consistently beat the national averages from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Case in point: In 2016, 30% of people nationwide had hypertension, compared to just 9.2% of the Johnson & Johnson population.
In addition, he says, “our healthcare costs in the U.S. are, on average, two to three percentage points lower than the costs most major corporations deal with on an annual basis.”
So how does Johnson & Johnson plan to make its already healthy workforce even healthier? With a mix of no-brainer and ingenious initiatives that are paying off for employees and employer alike.
What Every Employer Should Ask But Likely Isn’t: How Are Your Energy Levels?
If you’re too zonked to make it to the gym, or complete the 30-minute guided meditation you were looking forward to all day, the path toward comprehensive wellness will be a rocky one.
That’s why Johnson & Johnson offers all of its employees access to a course called Energy for Performance® (E4P).
During the two-day program, participants complete exercises that can help them identify and prioritize the most meaningful components of their lives. They also take part in seminars about foods and activities that have been scientifically proven to boost energy.
“We focus on energy management strategies in order to foster an overall sense of resilience and life satisfaction,” explains Shawn Mason, Ph.D., Director of Research and Outcomes, Johnson & Johnson.
The program, which is offered to everyone from members of the military to high-performing athletes to the general public, is free to all 130,000+ employees at the company’s locations around the world. To date, more than 60,000 have taken the course, helping Johnson & Johnson meet—and very likely exceed—that 100,000 employee goal by 2020.
After completing the course, 91% of graduates say they anticipate gains in their productivity. And studies have proven them right: Workers who finished the training were 25% more likely to nab a promotion the following year.
For Jill Kring, Senior District Manager, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, an E4P class on interval training led to a major aha moment.
“I thought I was doing well by going on walks every day, but I realized they weren’t doing much for me,” she recalls. “I learned through E4P that I can work out for less time if I do it in a better manner and get more effect from it. That was the biggest thing for me: not working harder, but smarter.”
Revelations like Kring’s are likely why, after completing the course, 91% of graduates say they anticipate gains in their productivity. And large studies have proven them right: Workers who finished the training were 25% more likely to nab a promotion the following year.
E4P grads were also more likely to stay with the company during the six-year study period; researchers estimate this increased retention could save the company $200 million by 2020, thanks to reduced turnover costs.
“This is important because it supports the Johnson & Johnson belief that fostering employee health and wellness is not only good for the individual—it’s beneficial to the organization,” Mason says. “And, in turn, it helps produce better health products and services for customers.”
Fasolo himself attributes E4P with helping him clearly articulate his life’s purpose. “I got feedback from my family about being more present and putting parameters up around what I say is important,” he notes. “It’s the mantra I go back to now: Stay present. You learn at E4P all the things you know you need to do—you just need the resiliency to do them.”
Workplace Makeovers for the Modern Age
There’s something else Johnson & Johnson knows it needs to do to help boost the health of its global workforce: cultivate an environment in which making good-for-you choices is easy. One way the company is doing this is by making healthier eating a no-brainer by putting its money where, well, its employees’ mouths are.
“For 2020, we’ve set a very concrete goal to implement a healthy eating policy at all of our locations worldwide,” Fasolo says. “This includes ensuring that at least 80% of the food served at our cafes is healthy.” A plan is also in place to increase access to free or low-cost fruits and vegetables, salad bars and non-sugary beverages.
Salad bars aren’t the only way Johnson & Johnson is putting carrots to work—there are also figurative carrots galore through fun global challenges that incentivize exercise by tying it to rewards and charitable contributions.
Take the 2017 Goal Getters step challenge, which rallied employees companywide to get in their recommended 10,000 steps each day. Thanks to the challenge, nearly 29,000 employees from 72 countries used digital health trackers to log more than 6 billion steps—that’s 111 times around the globe!
Teams who crossed the finish line got a say in which three charitable organizations would receive $25,000 financial grants from the company. Bridge to Employment, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the Medical & Surgical Skills Institute won out. The campaign also successfully pushed people to walk a little farther each day: Overall daily average step counts increased by 20%.
After taking the Energy for Performance course, I decided to start parking way in the rear of the parking lot each day. I use the analogy of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz: If we are not active, we just may freeze up!
Johnson & Johnson is also baking movement into its office design to help keep employees from spending the entire day glued to their seats, thanks to amenities like on-campus exercise centers and walking trails.
“We’re trying to build more collaborative spaces, like in our new Shanghai and Bogota offices, partly to ensure easy access to fitness during the work day,” Fasolo says, adding that employees are also encouraged to schedule walking meetings and practice microbursts as a way to get out of their chairs.
In the Shanghai office, for instance, employees have access to open-plan work spaces that feature height-adjustable standing desks, as well as the largest fitness center of any Johnson & Johnson office in Asia, complete with tennis tables and spin classes held under pulsing disco lights.
That’s not the only company facility built to boost activity, either. Staff at the company’s Janssen campus in Beerse, Belgium, have an outdoor volleyball court at their disposal, and amateur putters can hit up the miniature golf course in the Zug, Switzerland, office.
And that emphasis on healthy movement leaves people feeling empowered. Before he took the E4P course, Brian Dougherty, a Quality Assurance Engineer for DePuy Synthes, part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, didn’t believe he had time to leave his desk during the day.
“I couldn’t justify getting up to do a stretch or a walk around the building or whatever it took to be focused because I always saw this mountain of things I had to do,” he says. “I didn’t look at the whole picture.”
Now, standing up and staying active are part of his daily routine.
“I’ll sometimes meet with people on the other side of my building or a different one altogether to get me up and walking,” explains Dougherty. “After taking the course, I also decided to start parking way in the rear of the parking lot each day. I use the analogy of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz: If we are not active, we just may freeze up!”
Health Data as a Health Motivator
To make it easier for Johnson & Johnson employees to keep tabs on their health, they have access to the company’s Healthy & Me™ app, which can be used from a mobile phone, tablet or laptop, and easily connects to wearables.
Users can track their sleep, food intake and steps—75 billion have been logged by employees, to date! They can also access a range of personalized health and fitness programs—including exclusive Johnson & Johnson offerings that address key behavioral health issues like weight management—and even connect with other health-minded colleagues.
It’s a place, too, where employees can get direct access to their personal health numbers, such as cholesterol and blood pressure levels, so they can more easily act on them.
“In the mid-1980s, we were one of the first companies to encourage employees to sign up for health risk assessments, so we could help them be healthier,” Fasolo says. Participation rates were relatively low, though, so the company decided to incentivize U.S. employees by knocking $500 off their health insurance deductible.
You have to have the basic belief that investment in your employees is the best way to ensure their long-term commitment and resiliency. You have to be committed to it for the long run because it’s the right thing to do.
“Fast-forward to today, and 90% of global employees fill out health risk assessments,” says Fasolo. “The company only has access to aggregate, de-identified results. After reviewing these aggregate risk trends, we work on appropriate services for our employees to help behaviorally coach them toward better eating, stopping smoking, monitoring blood glucose levels and so on.”
And there’s statistical evidence that it’s working. In the late ‘90s, for instance, the company’s tobacco use rates were around 12%, but since introducing its tobacco-free policy in 2006, use rates have gone down to between 3 and 4%.
Creating the world’s healthiest workforce though initiatives like Healthy & Me is a huge undertaking, but Johnson & Johnson remains devoted to the task.
“You have to have the basic belief that investment in your employees is the best way to ensure their long-term commitment and resiliency,” Fasolo says. “You have to be committed to it for the long run because it’s the right thing to do.”