A $3.3 billion headache by 2030
Survey projects productivity loss among companies here will jump by 43% due to higher medical costs of older workforce
By 2030, an ageing workforce and higher medical costs will mean that sick leave will cost companies in Singapore $3.3 billion in lost productivity.
That figure would be a 43 per cent increase from last year, according to a report released by consultancy group Mercer yesterday.
The number of Singapore employees over the age of 50 is projected to increase by 55 per cent and make up 40 per cent of the workforce by 2030.
The changing demographic will result in rising costs for employers, said the report, with the average medical cost for each employee projected to jump from $946 to $1,973 a year.
Mr Neil Narale, Singapore business leader for Mercer Marsh Benefits, pointed to the growing trend of Singaporeans working into their later years due to improved health management, increased financial needs and more flexible employment options.
He said: "Health risks increase with age, ranging from diminishing motor and sensory functions to a greater incidence of chronic diseases, which will create challenges for employers."
The issues of absenteeism and presenteeism (when employees show up for work but are unproductive) is already prevalent, according to some figures from the inaugural Singapore's Healthiest Workplace Survey by AIA Vitality that will be released in more detail next week.
The average amount of time lost is 54 days for each employee a year, and most of it is due to presenteeism - nearly 48 out of 54 days.
Main drivers of this include unhealthy lifestyle, poor physical and mental health, as well as workplace conditions, with colleagues and bosses cited, said an AIA spokesman.
The Mercer report, which analysed claims data from more than 700 entities between 2013 to 2015, highlighted the need for health and wellness programmes as well as screening for earlier detection of diseases.
The Government and some local companies have already made moves to improve workplace health.
Over the last three years, more than 300,000 employees have benefited from customised and holistic health and safety programmes organised by the Tripartite Oversight Committee on Workplace Health, which is co-chaired by Dr Amy Khor, who is also Senior Minister of State for Health.
CTES Consulting, which has about 20 staff members ranging from their mid-20s to 70s, has seen its medical leave figures drop by 50 per cent over four years as a result of its health programmes.
Since 2010, the company has arranged for weekly sessions of popular activities like yoga, Pilates and Zumba.
It also keeps up with the times to stay fresh - one of its programmes has participants getting out to play Pokemon Go.
Said Ms Phyllis Yap, senior manager of human resources and accounts at CTES Consulting: "After 12 years in the business, it is apparent to us that physical health and mental wellness are both closely linked to employees' performance.
"There is definitely resistance for the employees to get started,but as long as it is incremental, progressive, meaningful and can address the needs of the employees, it is not that difficult to get them to buy in."