Chronic diseases set to have major impact on business

The cost to business of dealing with employees suffering from chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer is set to escalate dramatically, according to a new study.

A report by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, warned that over the next 25 years, chronic disease would reduce the available labour supply, savings, investments and ultimately affect the financial markets.

Globally, chronic diseases are the cause of more than half (57%) of all deaths annually, and this is expected to rise by 23% over the next two decades. The report estimated the UK would lose £16bn over the next 10 years as a result of workers suffering chronic diseases, stroke and reduced productivity.

PwC found that productivity losses associated with staff with chronic disease are as much as 400% more than the cost of actually treating chronic disease. Losses in productivity include disability, unplanned absences, reduced workplace effectiveness, increased accidents and negative impacts on work quality or customer service.

The report suggested that firms invest in workplace wellness programmes, and that public-private partnerships were imperative from a health and business perspective.

Michael Thompson, principal at PwC for global HR services, said: “Workplace wellness is evolving from a project for the HR department to a priority, and drawing the highest levels of attention from senior management and government.”

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