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Boundaries Can Drive Our Personal and Professional Growth

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A major challenge for business leaders in Asia is evaluating the amount of time that employees devote to their work. Indeed, in this year’s triannual UBS Prices and Earnings Report, four of the top five cities with the highest annual working hours are in Asia. And for many, remaining contactable all day, every day, including weekends and holidays, is a badge of honor.
I constantly question whether these hours translate into better productivity.

Excessive working hours can be a sign of inefficiency that is caused by the need to develop new capabilities. More urgently, this excess can often lead to employee burn-out, which not only puts talent retention at risk but also inhibits innovative thinking.

A recent Catalyst survey found that the majority of high-potential employees across Asia don’t aspire to top roles in their organizations because of the perceived pressure, stress and long hours.

If we want to develop today’s local talent into tomorrow’s global leaders, we must redefine the requirements of leadership. We must demonstrate that self-awareness, full engagement and boundaries will allow everyone at any level to fully indulge in both their professional and personal journeys.

One of my responsibilities as Executive Health Champion for Johnson & Johnson Asia Pacific is to build momentum for employee wellness programs. I’m a big supporter of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute philosophy that sustaining our energy bolsters our performance and accelerates our growth.

Through a range of interactive workshops and educational activities available to us around the world, we educate and coach staff on personalized strategies to optimize nutrition, movement, stress reduction and energy management.

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I’m proud that we have achieved record-breaking participation in wellness programs in our region this year, but that is not enough. To transfer these learnings into action, we need to commit to what motivates us as individuals.

My passions are family, friends, music and sports. I negotiate my schedule every week to make sure I have enough time to indulge in these. This allows me to fully engage when I’m on the job because I’ve recharged and effectively channeled my energy.

In Asia, employees take their cue from the top. If leaders don’t live their philosophy, there is little chance their employees – especially those who aspire to future senior roles – will feel comfortable to break old habits and defy cultural norms. Reinterpreting optimal performance by example is the best way for leaders to inspire a workforce to become healthier in body, mind and spirit.

We must demonstrate that we can resist the temptation to become distracted as technology continues to blur the lines between our personal and professional lives and still be successful. It’s all about being fully present and engaged in each moment because we have a plan that accommodates everything that makes us thrive.

We need to invest the time into understanding what makes our employees tick and empower them to reset their boundaries, achieve balance and stay engaged. Successfully cascading this philosophy throughout the organization requires watertight internal alignment, and I’m excited that we’re now on this journey in Asia Pacific.

Since being appointed as Company Group Chairman of Janssen Asia Pacific in 2014, Kris Sterkens has secured high-profile, long-term R&D investment agreements with major governments as well as initiatives to improve access to the company’s medicines.

Under his leadership, operating companies across the region have launched a range of programs to improve the lives of patients by applying innovative technology solutions that address unmet medical needs, creating funding schemes that improve affordability, and forming public-private partnerships to support people living with chronic diseases and the healthcare professionals who care for them.

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