Rewards Solutions Spotlight: How Technology is Changing HR at Johnson & Johnson

Published: August 2020


Spotlight, our regular Q&A with clients and colleagues, highlights leading viewpoints on trending topics in the world of human resources.

Ian Karcher
Associate Partner, Aon

Thorsten Eger
Head of HR Switzerland, Johnson & Johnson

How Technology is Changing HR at Johnson & Johnson

Ian Karcher, associate partner in the Rewards Solutions practice at Aon, recently spoke with Thorsten Eger, head of HR in Switzerland at Johnson & Johnson, about how technology is transforming human resources at the pharmaceutical giant. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

To what extent does digitization change your industry or company?

Digitization is taking place everywhere, especially in the health care sector — in research and development as much as in production, where automation is becoming increasingly widespread. In the administrative area, the focus is on implementing more efficient processes and working methods that are supported by technology and more closely networked. Without IT and digitalization, nothing really works today.

To what extent does digitization change HR?

Digitization in HR should lead to higher productivity and, more importantly, a better employee experience. We’re currently working on IT tool optimization — the linking of different workflows and the interface management of various IT systems. In talent acquisition, we have been testing self-directed interviews, procedures for pre-selection and new ways of onboarding employees. We recognized that we can improve the onboarding process for new employees beyond conventional methods. We are also looking at how we can link our internal talent platforms to external platforms such as LinkedIn.

I think we will also take a closer look at fully automated job exchanges. Nowadays, there are platforms that automatically "match" jobs and applicants. But we have not yet reached that point with our open positions.

If you could skip ahead 10 years, what would the future of HR look like?

I think a lot of administrative tasks will disappear and be fully automated. Learning will be revolutionized. Mobility will probably be less important, as work can be done from anywhere. We already see an acceleration of these trends and what is suddenly possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Performance these days is measured exclusively by output, not by processes. I can well imagine that performance cycles, which have become more automated, will eventually no longer be necessary.

I am not even sure whether HR will exist as a separate function in 2030. But rather than fear technologically-driven revolutions, I look forward to it. I can already see potential advantages: When I’m old, I can let the self-driving car drive me around.

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