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Johnson & Johnson leader reveals story behind winning top spot on Best Places to Work list

Health Industry Hub | April 26, 2021 |
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Human Resource Management: Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies was awarded first place in the Health Industry category on the 2021 AFR BOSS Best Places to Work list.

In an interview with Health Industry Hub, Katrina Symons, Head of Human Resources for Johnson & Johnson Australia and New Zealand, shared the motivation for winning the award and the reasons that make Johnson & Johnson (J&J) a great place to work.

Health Industry Hub: How is J&J addressing today’s workplace challenges through its initiatives?

Katrina Symons: At J&J we truly believe and support empowering our employees to live purposeful lives and that is really the key to achieving our mission.

We take this holistic approach where everyone is an individual. There is no ‘one size fits all’. We want to empower people and that approach is what makes us a great place to work. The workplace values we live by is around Our Credo and that creates our culture.

Health Industry Hub: What has been your most successful initiative within the company based on employee feedback and engagement?

Katrina Symons: What stands out for me is our mental health and wellbeing strategy. It’s the holistic approach of work, mind, movement and eating. Our ultimate goal across the organisation is to have the healthiest workforce in Australia and New Zealand. That’s an ambition that also helped us be the only healthcare company that won the Best Health and Wellbeing Program at the prestigious Australian HR Awards in 2020.

Within this mental health and well-being strategy, we run mentoring programs for career development, on site and virtual gyms, and we provide reimbursement for each employee to support their health and wellbeing goals. We also have a program called the Energy for Performance (E4P) program which is centred around the four areas mentioned earlier and assists in building people’s capabilities.

Last year really reinforced our commitment to these programs as we saw how important health and wellbeing was to our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Extending on this strategy, J&J is a founding member of the Corporate Mental Health Alliance. This is a select group of Australia’s largest employers coming together in our commitment to supporting mental health and wellbeing.

We recently introduced the #atourbest initiative where we are providing tools and building capability to empower our people to be flexible in when, where and how they work to deliver the best possible results for themselves, their teams and the J&J business. It is a four-week program where a community of our employees come together voluntarily to learn empowering skills and habits in working in a hybrid model while staying connected to their workplace community. We are recognising that when you turn hybrid, you have to invest in building people’s capabilities to be #atourbest.

Health Industry Hub: How do you bring the broader organisation on the journey of your company values considering the large number of employees across the three J&J businesses?

Katrina Symons: Our credo is weaved throughout every aspect of what we do. I often reflect on the fact that it was written back in 1943 and it is still as relevant today.

We hold Credo challenge conversations within our teams and the programs that we run to ensure that we are continually embedding it in our company and business decisions.

In addition to running our traditional engagement surveys every year, on alternate years we conduct a survey based on whether J&J’s leaders are true to the company’s Credo. Last year the overall favourability score was 88%.

Health Industry Hub: What is J&J’s vision in enhancing diversity and inclusion in the next 12 months? Which areas will you be focusing on and why?

Katrina Symons: I always start with the ‘why’. We have a responsibility to our employees in providing an inclusive working environment where each person is considered and treated as an individual.

We are super proud of the work environment that we have created which is built on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Our mission is to make diversity and inclusion our way of doing business in Australia and New Zealand. We have focused on this for years and we continue to progress.

Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies was one of the only 17 companies to achieve the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Employer of Choice for Gender Equity citation in 2021.

This recognition outlines our commitment to equal pay and opportunity. Incredibly, women make up 60% of our workforce of 1,600 staff and we have three female managing directors across the three J&J businesses; Susan Martin, Managing Director of Medical Devices, Biljana Naumovic, Managing Director of Pharmaceuticals, and Charmaine England, Managing Director of Consumer Health.

In the next 12 months, we have several initiatives around fostering diversity of thought and growth mindset which ensures that psychological safety is front of mind in the workplace environment. Our other initiatives focus on the skill set diversity to future proof the entire workforce. Particular focus this year is on the next generation and establishing and embedding a GenNow employee resource group.

Also, in acknowledging our privilege and responsibility as a large organisation, a number of our initiatives will focus on shaping the external narrative around diversity and inclusion.

Health Industry Hub: How will this outstanding recognition – first place in the Health Industry category on the 2021 AFR BOSS Best Places to Work list – impact your employees across the organisation? How do you plan to celebrate?

Katrina Symons: The first thing that we have done, through our announcements and communications, is to recognise and reinforce that our employees and their engagement created our best place to work. We have planned activities over the next few weeks and months in every office across Australia and New Zealand. Together, we have created a best place to work and so sharing our employees’ stories with each other is what we’ll be focussing on as we celebrate this achievement across the organisation.


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