May 12th, 2009

Creating a Culture of Health

Earlier today, President Barack Obama invited several employers, including Johnson & Johnson, to the White House to discuss their employee health and wellness programs and the impact they’ve had on the overall health of employees and healthcare costs — and so Chairman and CEO, William Weldon went to Washington to share some of the steps that have been taken at Johnson & Johnson. Now I wasn’t at the event and though I use our onsite gyms and health clinics, I’m no expert on our health and wellness programs — BUT I know someone who is. So I invited our resident expert, Fikry W. Isaac, MD, MPH, executive director of Johnson & Johnson Global Health Services, to share some of his thoughts on these programs.

From Dr. Isaac:

Like most full time employees, I spend more than a third of my waking day at work. When you consider that, it’s easy to see the importance of workplace wellness and the responsibility employers have to help employees lead healthier and more productive lives. This is something Johnson & Johnson has worked to achieve over the last 30 years by fostering what we call “a culture of health” for employees. As a physician and as public health officer, I can’t tell you how rewarding a journey this has been for me.

Now there are different thoughts on how best to do this, but we believe the most effective way to do this is to deliver a comprehensive and integrated package of health and wellness solutions addressing the “whole person” and what I mean by this, is to ensure that our programs cover our people’s needs from mental wellbeing, to health and safety in the workplace, to preventive health screening, health education & awareness and most importantly helping our people to know their health status, offer them programs to improve, and provide avenues for them to be active at work, home and at play. Given the role that robust employee health and wellness programs can have in lowering overall healthcare costs, I thought I would share a quick overview of what’s done at Johnson & Johnson:

Our program includes an online health risk assessment, lifestyle and disease management counseling, services to promote mental well-being, health risk intervention programs to reduce the likelihood of disease; environmental changes in the workplace (well lit hallways, safe stairwells that are inviting for those who want to take the stairs instead of the elevator, healthy food options in the cafeteria); and financial incentives for participation. Employees also have access to onsite fitness centers (which provide a great way to recharge in the middle of the work day) or they can receive discounts to attend local facilities.

What do you get from doing all of this? The results, based on health profile responses, are encouraging. I’ll give you a couple examples (Keep in mind that these figures compare our 2007 results with the national goal for 2010.):

•Our rate of smoking was reduced to 4 percent of our employee population, against a national goal of 12 percent.
•Our rate of high blood pressure was reduced to 6 percent of our employee population, versus a national target of 16 percent.
•Our rate of high cholesterol was reduced to 7 percent of our employee population, against a national goal of 17 percent.

Our biggest challenge is in the area of physical activity. Just over 36 percent of employees report they are not sufficiently active, compared to the national target of 20 percent. This is an area that we continue to work on – if you walk through any Johnson & Johnson facility, you’ll see many employees wearing pedometers, and we organize many team competitions to encourage more physical activity. There is also an online program that employees can sign up for called “Move.” It’s a personalized program by HealthMedia, a recently acquired Johnson & Johnson company that delivers customized, web-based programs focused on wellness & prevention, disease management, behavioral health, and medication adherence. You can read about one of our employee success stories on our corporate website.

Behavioral health is also important to support and efforts in this area have had a measurable impact on absenteeism and mental health. Today, our Employee Assistance program, which we launched in 1978, serves the needs of 90,000 Johnson & Johnson employees and family members in 34 countries.

I’ve been involved with these programs for almost 20 years, and I can tell you that it has most rewarding for me personally to see the significant positive health impact for our employees as well as the value to the business. In fact, our programs resulted in time-adjusted savings of $400 per employee per year, and improved health status was achieved in eight high risk areas, including cholesterol, blood pressure, and tobacco use.

The bottom line is that our health and wellness programs are considered an investment in the health of both employees AND the corporation. To truly create a culture of health that will drive long-term sustainable results, employers must deliver a comprehensive set of programs that focus on both the individual and organization.

14 Responses to “Creating a Culture of Health”

  1. ann says

    Why are the U.S. health care reform discussions so much focused on ill-care rather than health/well being…if you read the TOC of the healthcare bill, there are many components on health and well being… isn’t the best way to cut costs and insure more uninsured Americans is through education/programs/incentives to get Americans to adopt healthier behaviors whether you are young and old…

    I sent an email to the Obama administration via their website to urge them to redirect some of the discussions from private vs. public insurance to ways to get Americans healthier.. too much discussion on ill-care so little discussions on components of the bill focused on health and well being. Obama administration will get more hearts and minds of Americans by focusing on framework/process/policy/education on prevention, healthy eating, increasing physical activities… ways to incentivize, ways to education kids starting at as early as preschool… all of us need to take a part in this as the ill-care costs due to our life style challenges will be uncontrollable and far out weight other costs.

  2. Theresa M. Mosby says

    It is great that JNJ is concerned/involved in their employee health and welfare. We have a fitness center that is stocked with very nice equipment which are well taken care of and in excellent working condition. Many employees use the fitness center during on and off time. My concern is the hours our fitness center have been slashed in half. We had major layoffs here at the Lititz site which caused a lot of down time at the fitness center. However, now the few employees we have here can’t get over there at the usual time because the fitness center is closed. There is a “buddy” system in place and everyone cannot get over there together at the same time because of increased work load, so we can only get over there at a later time. If the fitness center is open half of the time now, we can’t get there during the time it is open. So now the empoyee participation has dropped off at the fitness center due to the time change.
    If JNJ is truly concerned and rivoted in keeping employee health and fitness at peak they would reopen the fitness center to full time hours again. I understand there are less people here, however, why should that be a factor in our good health?
    Please reconsider reopening the fitness center to full time, this would be a pure reflection on how JNJ truly regards their employees health and fitness.
    Theresa M. Mosby

  3. Robin Loercher says

    Theresa –

    We’re very glad that you find the Fitness Center useful and want to encourage you and all Lititz employees to use it regularly. Although we have had to cut back on Fitness Center staff as the numbers of regular users have declined, you are welcome to use the Fitness Center during unstaffed hours as long as you do it with a “workout buddy.” We established this policy so that people could use the Fitness Center when it is convenient to them, but we can ensure health and safety more effectively if there are at least two people using the gym at the same time.

    We regularly review our Fitness Center management, and the current staffing schedule appears to be appropriate for the active membership level. We hope active membership will increase to the point that the staffed hours schedule could be expanded – so encourage your Lititz colleagues to come work out!

    Robin A. Loercher
    Director Human Resources

  4. Carisse says

    I am glad that J&J is having a wellness program such as this. It will boost employee morale as well as keep these employees in good health and a healthy lifestyle. Clearly, this company knows that the wellness of their employee is their best asset.

  5. Melony Panzarino says

    Thank you for for this great post. I’m always on the look out for content and was lucky to find you on Google I will surely be back againg to see what other great content you post.

  6. Adelgazar says

    It’s great that JnJ have a policy of a culture of health. I wish my company had such program. We’re sitting in the office all day and are pretty overworked. When it’s time for lunch, it’s a quick burger or mostly fast food. I guess nobody ever stops to think about their health. I’m sure If there was some sort of program to promote healthy eating and lifestyle, things would change. I’m forwarding this to my boss.

  7. como bajar de peso says

    We regularly review our Fitness Center management, and the current staffing schedule appears to be appropriate for the active membership level. We hope active membership will increase to the point that the staffed hours schedule could be expanded – so encourage your Lititz colleagues to come work out!

  8. JNJ BTW - Our People and Perspectives says

    […] few years ago, Dr. Fik Isaac wrote a post for JNJ BTW that talked about the importance of keeping Johnson & Johnson employees healthy. In it he wrote: “The bottom line is that our health and wellness programs are considered an […]

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