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Johnson & Johnson India: Handling crises with care

J&J India has ensured the physical and mental health of its employees while allowing them to be their authentic selves

Naandika Tripathi
Published: Mar 4, 2022 11:57:41 AM IST
Updated: Mar 4, 2022 03:52:11 PM IST

Johnson & Johnson India: Handling crises with careSandeep Makkar, managing director, Johnson & Johnson Medical India and Sonal Jain, enterprise HR head, Johnson & Johnson India
Image: Neha Mithbawkar for Forbes India

In April 2021, when the second Covid-19 wave hit India, 38-year-old Sourabh Rajoria got infected. After a week of medication, his fever did not decrease, he had difficulty breathing and SpO2 levels dropped below the critical level of 90. Rajoria had to be hospitalised immediately. His condition worsened steadily, and after 20 days, he was put on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit, where he remained unconscious for another 20 days, and was given 10 to 20 percent chances of survival. During this time, his colleagues at Johnson & Johnson from India and across the world, stepped up to help in every way possible. His health eventually started improving and he was discharged from hospital after two long months. It took him another two months to recover fully.

“Even after I was discharged, I needed oxygen support at home, and the J&J team arranged for an oxygen concentrator to be sent to Bhopal [my hometown]. There was no pressure at all to return to work. My team mates worked extra hours and managed all my work in my absence for almost four months. I’ll be forever grateful to them for the support I received at one of the worst times in my life,” says Rajoria, who is a senior HCC manager at J&J and has been working with the company for 11 years.

During the peak of the pandemic in April-June 2021, J&J India brought all their crisis management experience to the fore to support employees on a war footing. “A network of country and site crisis management teams was established to monitor the situation and co-ordinate support. Rapid response teams were deployed to support employees with doctor appointments and Covid testing, finding hospitals beds, provision of oxygen cylinders and so on,” recalls Sandeep Makkar, managing director, Johnson & Johnson Medical India.

At a time when J&J’s own employees were impacted by Covid-19, they still served 66,00,000  people in the communities through donation of PPEs to health workers, timely mobilisation of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to hospitals to serve patients in need. “We also worked with professional associations of psychiatrists such as Nimhans to provide access to mental health and wellness programmes, and dedicated psychosocial support to thousands of health care workers battling through the pandemic,” says Sonal Jain, enterprise HR Head at Johnson & Johnson India. The company received four national awards in 2021 for its efforts to serve communities and the impact it had.

Johnson & Johnson India: Handling crises with careBesides this, J&J launched the first cohort of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) this year to develop women leaders in health care—to help achieve gender parity in the health care industry, facilitate careers and business connections. “We believe in creating a deep sense of belonging and a culture where you are valued, your ideas heard, and you advance this culture for everyone. We consider that when people have a safe space, they feel that they belong there and they have the freedom to be themselves, and they will most certainly help us deliver on our purpose to change the trajectory of health for humanity,” says Makkar. When J&J was founded in 1886, eight of their first 14 employees were women. Today 45 percent of their 130,000+ global associates are women.

J&J drives its ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’ (DE&I) philosophy through its Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These are voluntary, employee-led groups that focus on sharing identities and experiences, to advance a culture of belonging. These ERGs range from mental health diplomats to women in leadership to Gen Now to Open & Out—for LGBTQ+ employees and allies. The company also provides a 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme to help employees cope with unprecedented emotional challenges and maintain their mental well-being. Through the programme, employees and their family members can avail of professional counselor support to seek expert advice on work or family concerns.

During the pandemic and through this period of ‘The Great Resignation’, people are looking more than ever to connect and belong. Their sense of purpose comes not only from the meaningful work that helps them grow and learn, but also from a deeper connection with their co-workers, says Bhavna Dalal, founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners, a leadership development company based in Bengaluru. “Another vital requirement is creating a sense of psychological safety amongst employees to be their uninhibited authentic selves. Company cultures that recognise this and facilitate such an environment are true champions of the well-being of their workforce.” 

(This story appears in the 11 March, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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