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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Johnson & Johnson’s $100,000 Anti-Burnout Program for Top Execs

Written by: | | Dated: Monday, March 27th, 2017


March 27, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff


Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s Human Performance Institute has developed a Premier Executive Leadership program to help executives avoid burnout

The program, which costs about $100,000 and was tested on seven of its own executives, includes a physiologist, a dietitian, and an executive coach. The program starts with a proprietary two-and-a-half-day executive health assessment at the Mayo Clinic. There, the executive will be poked and prodded by a team of physicians. Testing will include bone density scans, abdominal ultrasounds, and a pharmaco-genetics evaluation. Bloomberg notes, “Unlike the standard C-suite physical, the exam focuses on metabolism, stamina, and strength. The results serve as a baseline of health as the executive goes through the program.”

The executive coach will conduct a preliminary interview that can go on for two days. “We get to know them very well,” David Astorino, one of the program’s executive coaches, told Bloomberg. “We help them tell their life story, so to speak. This program’s belief is you have to be motivated by something bigger than yourself. We help them define what their purpose is.”

Although noting that, on average, chief executive officers make 373 times more in wages than his or her’s employees, along with gilded golden parachutes and retirement benefits, companies also invest “small fortunes, and often many years, training these people to lead. Replacing a chief executive after a sudden departure costs U.S. companies an average of $1.8 billion in shareholder value, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers.”

Research firm CEB suggests that almost half of executives last less than 18 months after a promotion or job change. Seymour Adler, a partner at human resources consulting firm Aon Hewitt, told Bloomberg, “Our research shows that leaders in organizations operate in a VUCA environment. It takes its toll.”

VUCA is an acronym that stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Or as Nathan Bennett and G. James Lemoine point out in the Harvard Business Review, it’s a “catchall for ‘Hey, it’s crazy out there!’”

It’s a little hard to tell how most executives would respond to this program, which can seem rather invasive. The life coach asks the executive to write down their life story as a kind of “narrative therapy.” The coach may also interview the executive’s family and friends to try and identify where the individual’s fault lines might lie. The dietician and physiologist will develop a diet and exercise program. They will make a home visit and “cupboard analysis.” And over the following months, the executives are to check in with their coaches.

J&J argues that its program offers a holistic approach. “What’s unique here is we’re sending clear messages to this individual that we support you,” said Peter Fasolo, executive vice president, chief human resources officer for J&J, to Bloomberg. “We get to the root causes, what drives these behaviors. It’s more than stress management.”

Bloomberg notes that many executives “complain of physical fatigue from late-night and early-morning conference calls. They don’t have time to work out. They eat bad food on the road. And, as executives, they have few people to talk with about their problems.”

To be fair, those pretty much apply to all their employees as well, many who aren’t making anywhere near the cost of this program in annual income. But the stakes aren’t as high for the company for the employees further down the ladder—or at the bottom of the ladder.

Premier Executive Leadership describes itself as “an exclusive executive development and wellbeing program designed to prepare top global leaders to thrive in the most highly visible, highly stressful leadership roles.”

“Leaders aren’t a set of skills and tools,” Lowinn Kibbey, head of J&J’s Human Performance Institute, told Bloomberg. “They’re a human being. Many of these leaders arrive in these roles without being equipped with how to stay healthy and resilient.”



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