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Optimize employee healthcare benefits and reduce workforce cancer risk and cost

February 14, 2024

To mark World Cancer Day (4 February) we hosted a webcast focused on reducing the impact of cancer in the workplace, the toll it takes on employee wellbeing and the associated organizational costs.
Health and Benefits|Benessere integrato|Global Benefits Management

The burden of cancer is increasing in Europe and globally. For employers, this means rising healthcare costs, insurance claims and employee sickness absence.

  • Cancer accounts for more deaths in people under 65 in Europe than any other disease.
  • It will affect 1 in 2 people during their lifetime.
  • It is estimated that 1 in 5 will die from cancer.
  • The three most common cancers in Europe are breast, lung and bowel. This is in terms of both the number of people diagnosed and the number of deaths from them.

Our latest Global Medical Trends survey shows that insurance carriers indicate that cancer is currently the number one driver of claims costs in Europe. It’s clear from these statistics that this is a significant regional, and indeed global, issue. And data published in 2022 by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre indicates that this issue is only going to get worse in the next 15 years, exacerbated by an aging European population.

The cost and impact of cancer is significant

In the coming years, employees are likely to need to work until later in life to be able to afford their retirement, which in turn means healthcare costs associated with this population will become an even greater issue for employers in the region. And as state and social healthcare support and access to care varies across the region, this is where employers have an opportunity to intervene and make a difference to health outcomes for employees and, with that, to the costs for our organizations.

As employers, having a targeted and structured health and wellbeing program to empower employees to make good lifestyle and behavioural decisions, and to receive treatment when it is needed quickly, is key. We know from our broader research into employee experience, that companies who have an effective wellbeing strategy are more successful as businesses.

There is strong business logic in proactively supporting and managing long-term health conditions in the workplace. This is an evolutionary process and, as employers, we will all be on a journey to providing better support and more targeted benefits and communications for our employees.

Watch the webcast recording

Lucie McGrath, Head of Wellbeing for Europe and Stephanie Parton-Corr, U.K. Wellbeing leader hosted our latest webcast looking at how employers can optimize their healthcare benefits and wellbeing programs to reduce the impact of cancer on their workforces.

Three key takeaways:

  • Cancer and other non-communicable diseases have a significant impact on colleague health and create significant cost. With rising incidence of illness in our global population as a whole, employers who introduce early disease detection programs and robust workforce wellbeing programs will see improved employee health, reduced treatment time and spend, and lowered absence costs.
  • Data is key to understanding the specific health risks of our employee populations. More than ever before, truly understanding our specific organizational health risks and drivers is critical. If we do this, and do it well, we can optimize our benefit programs, use budget where it will have the most impact and sustainably improve organizational health.
  • Personalisation is fundamental to a successful employee benefits program. Employees expect a highly personalized benefits experience. Technology enables employers to deliver programs that meet this need, as well as targeting high-risk populations and driving healthy behaviors.

Our external speakers:

  • Professor Gordon Wishart - Founder & CEO, Check4Cancer
  • Dr Cliona Gallagher - General Practitioner and Occupational Health Physician, HCA
  • Beth Husted - Wellbeing and Customer Experience Operations Manager, Unum

You can access the webcast replay by completing the form on the right or below on a mobile device.

Working with Cancer Pledge

The Working with Cancer Pledge, started by Publicis, is a fantastic opportunity for employers at any stage in their journey to provide better support for colleagues with cancer, to assess their policies and programs, and to ensure employees are aware of the benefits available to them. A core part of the commitment to the Pledge is to monitor and track progress, which we see those organizations who are leading and transforming the wellbeing space doing as part of their approach.

To find out more about how we can help to improve the health and wellbeing of your organization, please get in touch.


Health, Equity and Wellbeing Lead, Europe
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Stephanie Parton-Corr
Wellbeing lead, GB
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