Lisa Tay, Head of HR, Johnson & Johnson Asia Pacific, shares how the organisation quickly facilitated work-from-home arrangements and introduced a suite of programmes to support the physical and mental wellbeing of employees.

“We were built for times like this”. This is how Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky described our efforts to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19 during a recent employee Town Hall.

As the world responds to changing realities, this global pandemic is providing a mirror into our societies, governments and organisations. Looking into the J&J mirror today, I couldn’t be prouder of how quick yet considered, agile yet consistent, and decisive yet humane we have been in our efforts to care for employees during this time of crisis. Indeed, our approach has been a true reflection of our credo, which has guided us for more than 75 years and continues to live and breathe through every employee in our company.

The measures taken to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our workplaces have prioritised the health and wellbeing of our employees, as well as their ability to deliver for those who depend on us for essential medicines, medical devices and healthcare products.

A guiding principle behind every decision we have made has been an unwavering commitment to science. This has informed our approach to adapting workplaces and work policies across the globe. During an emotionally charged time, our resolve to be guided by scientific evidence in combating COVID-19 has ensured we remain steadfast and consistent in our efforts, and cemented employee trust.

As quickly as COVID-19 evolved from a health crisis in one province to a global pandemic, we moved to facilitate work-from-home arrangements and introduced a suite of programmes to support the physical and mental wellbeing of employees. This included the global rollout of a hotline to help employees and their families with questions about their physical and mental health, alongside the opportunity to seek confidential support from counsellors via phone.

During an emotionally charged time, our resolve to be guided by scientific evidence in combating COVID-19 has ensured we remain steadfast and consistent in our efforts, and cemented employee trust.

These initiatives have been complemented by more than a dozen digital resources and tools, covering everything from how to work from home to virtual mindfulness, meditation and fitness sessions. Programmes we have developed over the years in our bid to be the Healthiest Workfrorce on the Planet have been made available online. We are currently preparing to bring our flagship Energy for Performance program online, to help employees harness their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy and to unlock their potential while reducing burnout. We are also gearing up for the launch of meQuilibrium, an app that provides personalised stress reduction strategies and resilience training.

Our efforts to care for production and field staff have been rigorous and uncompromising. We have complied with health and safety guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation and governmental departments in equipping these employees with personal protective equipment, monitoring their health and keeping sites clean and disinfected. This dedicated group of employees has been dubbed our “superheroes”. To recognise their efforts, we have introduced a one-time monetary reward to eligible employees who continue to work onsite at production facilities. It’s a small but significant gesture that goes a long way in expressing our indebtedness to their continued dedication.

To recognise their efforts, we have introduced a one-time monetary reward to eligible employees who continue to work onsite at production facilities.

What has been especially humbling for me as an HR leader is seeing how the charge to care for employees has been embraced at the “whole of J&J” level, not only by human resources. When the crisis first broke in China, J&J CEO Alex Gorsky was quick to communicate with our Chinese teams to motivate and support them. As the virus spread across borders, our senior executives never missed an opportunity to support our teams. From engaging in open and transparent communications to leading virtual fitness sessions, J&J leaders have been on the frontline of caring for our employees.

As we have cared for our own, they have helped us care for the communities affected by COVID-19. Here in Singapore, where our regional headquarters are based, we have prepared and dispatched 2,000 J&J care packs for frontline healthcare professionals. In China, the region’s worst-hit country, we have donated one million masks, alongside thousands of other essential protective gear and medical devices to frontline hospitals and healthcare centres. Similar drives have been organised in countries across the region, including Korea, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Australia, the Philippines and Hong Kong, amounting to more than US$5.8mn in financial and product donations to date. Across Asia Pacific, local employee fundraising campaigns continue to make a difference to the most vulnerable segments of our communities.

A new global leave policy is enabling medically trained J&J employees to take up to 14 weeks of paid leave over the course of a year to provide frontline support in diagnosing and treating COVID-19.

We have also empowered employees to take care of their families and, where appropriate, play their part in the medical response. A new global leave policy is enabling medically trained J&J employees to take up to 14 weeks of paid leave over the course of a year to provide frontline support in diagnosing and treating COVID-19.

And so, I echo the words of our CEO. We were built for times like this. As the world’s largest healthcare company, we are forging ahead in our response to COVID-19 through an unequivocal commitment to the health and wellbeing of all those who depend on us, including our employees, guided by science and propelled by compassionate leadership.

Photo / iStock


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