Employee Experience

How Johnson & Johnson unlocks the power of people with data

As the global head of workforce analytics at Johnson & Johnson, Piyush Mathur is passionate about improving business outcomes through better people decisions for J&J’s 140,000 employees worldwide. In this installment of our Employee Experience Visionaries series, hear from Piyush about:

On how he got into HR analytics:

I’ve always been driven by a passion to unlock the power of people, to the extent that even they can’t imagine.

For 20 of the last 24 years, I ran businesses for Nielsen with double-digit revenue growth and managed thousands of employees.

Because of my deep background in general management, many were surprised when I switched over to people analytics. But the path for me was clear. I’ve always been driven by my passion to help people achieve their potential. When the opportunity arose to do this at scale – we have 140,000 employees at J&J – I jumped on it.

On why people analytics is win-win for the company and its people:

People analytics makes it possible to improve employee experience and impact a company’s bottom line at the same time.

As a people leader, retaining top talent has always been one of my top priorities. In previous roles, I had to rely on my gut to tell me when someone was at risk of leaving the company.

But now, people analytics teams can actually predict and help reduce that risk. This is a win-win for both the company and its people. Employers have a chance to retain top employees and avoid the costs associated with churn, and employees can avoid the stress of leaving a company and starting a new job.

On how people analytics can drive direct impact:

Our philosophy is “Insight without outcome is overhead.”

Our People Analytics team is not only responsible for generating insights, but we’re also in charge of measuring the outcomes that result from taking actions from those insights. This is true for every insight generated, but one of the areas where it can directly impact the bottom line is within the sales organization. Many companies strive to make their sales forces more effective and efficient, but few look at them through the lens of people data to do so.

For example, we ask ourselves, what characteristics do successful salespeople have in common? How can we recruit and develop our people to replicate traits that will lead to success? People analytics can help answer these questions in a way that drives direct business impact.

On how listening to employees shapes J&J’s culture:

At J&J, listening to our employees is part of how we fulfill Our Credo commitments and foster an inclusive culture.

At J&J, we empower and inspire our employees so that they can bring their best self to work every day. It's part of Our Credo, a 75+ year-old company purpose statement that outlines our values and responsibilities to our four key stakeholders: the patients, doctors and nurses we serve, our employees, the communities we live in and finally, our shareholders.

One of the ways we listen and respond to our employees’ needs is by identifying, mapping and measuring all the touchpoints across their “hire to retire” journey. In doing this, we find the moments that matter and the pain points that need to be addressed, then try to find solutions for those pain points before they have significant impact.

Survey data informs this process, and we’re proud to have strong annual participation. We leverage this annual and pulse survey data to understand every aspect of an employee’s journey with J&J – from perceptions about their manager to how they understand the company’s strategy, collaboration, ability to execute ideas, etc.

On achieving strong annual participation in the employee survey:

There are two main factors that contribute to our strong response rate. First, our employee survey is linked to Our Credo. The moment you say “Our Credo” at J&J, it goes straight to the heart, as our employees are proud of this company mission statement and our values that have stood the test of time.

Second, we execute it in a way that encourages participation. A small survey team works with 400 ‘Credo Champions’ across the organization who drive the response rates within their function. These Champions suggest ways to strengthen the process and the survey team implements those after the survey so there’s continuous improvement. These Credo Champions also help drive action planning for their functions.

On an example of insight and action sparked by employee listening:

Our biggest insights happen when we can combine experience and operational data.

Rooted in Our Credo, we have a commitment to support the health and well-being of our employees across their whole lives. We have hundreds of sites around the world, so we wondered whether there was a way to predict how to more strategically direct these resources based on the employee needs in each of those sites. We have always individually listened to our employees, but this was an example of a time where we looked at those insights together, holistically.

We combined our survey results (X-data) with leave absence data, site calls to the employee assistance program, and people calling out employee relations/labor relations issues (O-data) and looked at the results at an aggregated level for each site. This combination of experience and operational data allowed us to be more strategic in our allocation of health and well-being resources across sites.

On why any company can get started with people analytics:

If you have access to one data point and Excel, you can start.

There’s a common misperception that you need all these tools and a lot of clean data before you can get started with people analytics. From my perspective, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

For example, say you have access to data on employees who are leaving the organization. You can import it into Excel and start to build an attrition metric across the organization, allowing you to see the variance across different functions, levels, regions or countries. Sooner than later, you will be able to identify attrition “hotspots” in your organization and can start to focus your retention initiatives towards them.

On the biggest misperception about HR:

Some think HR is not an analytical function, that it's more gut and feelings-based. But as HR continues to evolve, we’re seeing a rise in evidence-based, data-driven decision-making. In the past, organizations mainly leveraged data to understand their customers. Now they use data to understand their people and address their needs.

On the importance of HR specialists building skills in data and analytics:

Be agile in developing your analytics capability, but never forget “H” in HR.

HR is embracing technology and automation at a very fast pace. HR leaders need to stay on top of these trends to stay relevant. The faster you can learn, the faster you get hands-on with analytics, the higher the probability that you will be able to differentiate yourself versus others.

On his book recommendation:

“The Power of People” by Nigel Guenole and Jonathan Ferrar is relevant no matter where you are in your people analytics journey. It takes a pragmatic approach to the field, combining their practical framework with real world examples and case studies.


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