Diabetes in the Workplace: How You Can Help Your Employees

Diabetes in the workplace is becoming more prominent as an increasing number of U.S. adults are diagnosed with the disease. National Diabetes Statistics Report, a periodic publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), claimed that an estimated 23.1 million people or 7.2 percent of the U.S. population were diagnosed with diabetes in 2015. It’s possible for diabetes to have a financial and psychological effect in the workplace. As reported in an article in the SHRM website, absence from work due to Type 2 diabetes costs employers more than $20 billion annually.

Effects of Diabetes in the Workplace

The financial impact includes costs to replace workers as well as administrative costs of managing absenteeism. Other indirect costs and effects of absenteeism include the provision of poor-quality goods and services resulting from fatigue or understaffing, reduced productivity, excess manager time in looking for employee replacements and poor morale among employees who must perform extra work to cover absent co-workers.

As an employer, taking careful measures to assist diabetic employees in managing their diabetes is a fundamental gesture as this delivers the message that your organization is supportive and caring toward its employees.

What You Can Do to Help Employees With Diabetes

1. Introduce diabetes self-management programs.

Work closely with your insurer and arrange for incentives to be given to employees with diabetes who attend diabetes self-management programs to help them manage their condition.

2. Encourage healthy food choices and lifestyle.

Introduce a diabetes initiative nutrition program that includes cooking classes and workshops on how to read food labels. This helps to educate employees with diabetes about the proper dietary plan for combating the disease. In addition, introduce a specially tailored wellness program which encourages diabetic employees to exercise regularly, such as walking and gym sessions.

3. Allow blood glucose testing and insulin administering.

You may want to provide a designated area within the workplace where diabetic employees can test their blood glucose levels and administer insulin. Also, consider offering storage for insulin supplies if work conditions prevent such supplies from being carried around.

4. Educate employees about diabetes awareness.

Educate diabetic employees about the risks of diabetes and ways to cope with it via a health kit which contains relevant resources employees can download. Consider sending weekly emails containing information about diabetes and prevention and include an element of fun by providing employees with an opportunity to participate in a quiz and win a prize.

Ways Employees Can Manage Their Diabetes

To prevent diabetes from flaring up and causing employees to miss work days, there are a couple ways to manage diabetes that concerned employees can follow:

1. Prepare a diabetes management plan.

Since different people respond to diabetic conditions differently, devising a diabetes management plan is essential to diabetic sufferers. Include regular medical reviews, an exercise and diet program, insulin intake and other medical treatment in the plan.

2. Plan daily meals.

People with diabetes are advised not to skip breakfast as this can lead to dangerously low glucose levels which can be detrimental to one’s health, safety and work performance. If concerned employees choose to take snacks and a packed lunch to work, they can control the type of food they eat and have it ready whenever they feel the need to.

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Bottom Line

It is vital that you, the employer, offer continual support to employees with diabetes in the workplace with resources like blood sugar management techniques and healthy food choices. By educating them on diabetes management and outlining the benefits and services offered in their health plan, you can help them cope with their condition. In the long run, the additional effort and time dedicated to helping these employees will improve the quality of their lives and reduce health care costs.

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