According to new research published by The Health Foundation, by 2040, there are projected to be 9.1 million people living with major illnesses in England. That's a whopping 2.5 million more than in 2019 and it means that nearly 1 in 5 of the adult population could be affected.
Chronic illnesses can have a substantial impact on employees' productivity and performance, not to mention that businesses have a social responsibility to support and contribute to the well-being of their employees and the broader community.
So, what does this projection mean for your business?
Embrace Challenges, Seize Opportunities
Thanks to advances in healthcare and technology, life expectancy has increased.
However, with age, comes more likelihood of illnesses, which can lead to higher healthcare costs, higher absenteeism, reduced work hours and lower performance levels, that in the end, means a slump in overall productivity.
This demographic shift is having a huge impact on all of us, and the report indicates that we are now facing profound implications for public services like the NHS and social care. As the numbers of individuals impacted by major illnesses continues to grow, it's imperative that businesses step up and take action. The good news is that we can start planning today to help businesses, public services and society navigate this change.
Imagine a future where businesses place employee well-being at the forefront of their priorities. A world where employees are provided with the necessary support to manage their health conditions, allowing them to thrive both at work and in their personal lives.
It's more than just a dream; it's a possibility. The projected growth in illnesses like anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and diabetes doesn't have to be a bleak outlook. In fact, it highlights the need for businesses to step up and invest in employee wellbeing, general practice and community-based services.
Businesses have an opportunity to play an integral role in prevention and early intervention. This means fewer people suffering the impact of illness and more individuals leading healthier, happier lives.
It's a win-win situation: improved employee well-being and enhanced productivity for businesses.
Embed Wellness at Work, But Make it Holistic
When we address wellbeing in a holistic manner, we ensure that all aspects of an employee's life are considered - physical, mental, and emotional.
Let's break free from the cookie-cutter approach of just offering EAPs and health insurance and embrace the power of a holistic employee wellbeing strategy. Imagine your workplace buzzing with health and wellbeing workshops, invigorating exercise classes, and access to nourishing food options. Not only will your employees be healthier, but they'll also be more engaged and motivated to perform at their best.
A wellness program that provides employees with access to health and wellness educational workshops, as well as wellness support resources, leads to greater employee empowerment. When individuals understand their condition and know how to prevent and manage it, they can take control of their health and well-being. It's about equipping them with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions.
Let's not forget about mental health.
Create a supportive environment by offering access to mental health resources, counselling services, and employee assistance programs. Encouraging open conversations about mental health breaks down barriers and empowers employees to seek help when they need it. It's about fostering a culture of care and understanding.
From Overwhelm to Effective
Overwhelm and stress seem to be the inseparable twins haunting employees. A stressed-out brain is like a race car running on empty - it's bound to crash and burn.
Encourage employees to step away from the multitasking circus and embrace focused work. Prioritising tasks and time management strategies can go a long way in reducing workload stress.
One of the most important steps employers can take to reduce stress on employees is to create a culture of open communication. Address any concerns, fears, or frustrations head on. This safe space allows for collaborative problem-solving and builds a supportive work environment.
In addition, encouraging employees to develop new skills can help reduce stress by empowering them to feel more confident and capable in their role.
Break the 9 to 5 Shackles
Flexibility is key when it comes to managing chronic health conditions.
By offering flexible work arrangements, such as such as remote work, job sharing, flexible scheduling, and part-time hours, businesses can enable their employees to prioritise self-care without compromising their work responsibilities.
They can attend medical appointments, manage treatments, and maintain a healthy work-life balance, all while contributing their valuable skills to the business. It’s really about providing a work environment that is inclusive and supportive of employees living with chronic health conditions.
So, let's embrace this opportunity. By investing in general practice and community-based services, implementing holistic wellness programs, providing mental health support, fostering flexibility, and promoting health education, businesses can make a positive impact on the lives of their employees. Together, we can create a future where businesses not only thrive but also contribute to a healthier, happier society.
Watt T, Raymond A, Rachet-Jacquet L, Head A, Kypridemos C, Kelly E, Charlesworth A. Health in 2040: projected patterns of illness in England. The Health Foundation; 2023 (https://doi.org/10.37829/HF-2023-RC03).