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.