April 13, 2024

Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen wants to slash the number of the company’s 64,000-plus workforce that is feeling stressed.

“I don’t think you could run a company if more than 10% of your employees are suffering from stress,” said Jørgensen at the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

Jørgensen has been at the head of the company that produces the popular diabetes and weight loss medications Ozempic and Wegovy, since 2017. Under his leadership, Novo Nordisk has become the 12th largest company in the world by market cap. Skyrocketing sales of its medications have even helped boost Denmark’s GDP.

Despite its success, Jørgensen believes current stress levels at the company are unsustainable.

Nearly 14% of the company’s employees reported feeling stressed, according Novo Nordisk’s 2023 annual report. The company’s goal is to cut that figure to 10%.

As a pharmaceutical company, Jørgensen said the firm prioritizes the health and safety of its workers and stress is a part of that.

What the pharma giant is doing to bring stress levels down

First, Novo Nordisk tracks stress across the company with regular anonymous surveys.

The company also educates its leaders on how to handle and mitigate stress by communicating clear priorities and ambitions.

“It is an expectation that to be a leader at Novo Nordisk and to stay in your leadership role, you have to run an area without high stress levels,” Jørgensen said.

Additionally, the company implement “local action plans” when it notices specific departments are experiencing high rates of stress.

In 2023, over half of American workers reported feeling a moderate level of burnout, according to a survey from Aflac.

More about stress in the workplace from Quartz

A manager’s guide to combating burnout

5 key behaviors to make yourself resilient to stress

Understand these 4 work styles to reduce stress

How managers can encourage mental health days

Can the dreaded compliance meeting save our workforce from a mental-health crisis?

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