By David Woods
Have you accidentally started flicking through the wrong journal? Surely you wanted to read about business and not healthcare.
What does healthcare have to do with business leadership? Do I, the editor, in fact, need to see a doctor, for somehow commissioning six features on illnesses, health policy, pharmaceuticals and eldercare?
What could a wide and general topic such healthcare possibly have to do with your business and profit margins? Read on, because the two are inextricably linked.
Business leaders frequently talk about health. “Healthy business”; “a healthy economic outlook”; or a “healthy attitude to management” – so much so it’s almost become a cliché. Economists regularly question which country is the ‘sick man of Europe’ (it’s looking like France this month…). We talked about the global recession, comparing it to a pandemic.
But the role that health plays in business is much more than just the source of unorginal metaphors. In tangible terms, our globally-connected business world not only spreads financial epidemics but real diseases. Ebola has made global news as the disease spreads in West Africa and beyond, but behind the headlines, chronic health issues such as diabetes are increasingly putting pressure on publicly-funded (or employer-funded) health schemes. There has been a resurgence in developed countries of diseases like measles and influenza because of controversy over the safety and efficacy of innoculations such as the triple MMR vaccination. These diseases seriously afflict less developed nations.
And while patients in emerging markets face exorbitent costs for drugs, in developed countries there is danger of antibiotics resistance due to over-prescribing – people are wrongly demanding penicillin for colds and flu, which are caused by viruses.
These issues impact your aging workforce in so many ways: stress, absence, health insurance costs, preventing international assignments.
I could go on and that’s before I even start to talk about the role of the Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare providers such as the NHS in the UK that employ the same number of people as the population of some countries.
The people in your organizations; the talented individuals who could grow your business and cure the ‘economic illness’ the world faces, care more about physical health than a business prognosis.
According to pollsters ICM, ahead of the UK’s general election this year, UK voters (31%) rated healthcare as their priority in deciding who to vote for in the election, over jobs and wages (14%), education (8%) and the government deficit (8%)
The health of our industries is dependant on the health of our global population. Health is intrinsically linked to wealth.