Case study: Johnson and Johnson takes a global view for employee assistance

Johnson and Johnson introduced an employee assistance programme (EAP) in 1977 to deal primarily with substance abuse issues among its 50,000 US staff.

However, the concept of holistic health led to a desire to broaden its EAP’s scope, says Janice Lenehan, the pharmaceutical firm’s worldwide director of employee assistance.

In 2004, she was tasked with globalising the EAP for the decentralised organisation’s 120,000 staff in 67 countries across more than 250 companies.

Today, 90% of its workforce is covered by an EAP, and it has a different programme in each country. “The Johnson and Johnson workforce is diverse and encompasses a broad range of ethnicity, religion, language, age and gender,” says Lenehan. “It is critical to select EAP counsellors who are sensitive to each [employee’s] needs.”

For example, in Juarez, Mexico, the firm has 6,000 Mexican staff, most of whom are aged under 30. “In that area, it can be difficult to access mental health professionals,” says Lenehan.

Johnson and Johnson now offers Juarez staff an onsite psychologist, as well as doctors and nurses. But there is a different emphasis at its headquarters in New Jersey, where the average staff age is 45.

“In companies where the population tends to be older, there may be support groups for caregivers of the elderly, workshops dealing with empty-nest issues, and resources for helping sort through the college process.” says Lenehan.

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