Managing Diabetes in the Office

The prevalence of diabetes has skyrocketed in recent decades, particularly in Asia where more than 60 percent of individuals with type 2 diabetes reside. This surge can be attributed to factors such as rapid industrialization, urbanization, lifestyle changes, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Asia, unique risk factors increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, even at lower body mass indexes (BMIs). These include less muscle mass and higher levels of visceral fat. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to severe complications like heart disease, strokes, and blindness.

Diabetes can significantly impact all aspects of life. While diabetes generally doesn't limit job choices, those working regular office hours face challenges in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels through proper diet and exercise.

Top Tips for Implementing Reasonable Adjustments in the Workplace

Managing diabetes at work requires ongoing attention and support. With the help of an informed manager, individuals with diabetes can overcome the challenges they face and achieve success. By understanding the specific needs of employees with diabetes, you can provide the necessary support to help them thrive.

Here are some tips for HR managers to support employees with managing diabetes at work:

  • Be prepared for emergencies: Discuss emergency protocols with your employees, specifically addressing ‘Hypo’ Attacks. Determine who to contact in case of emergency, and ensure that emergency phone numbers are prominently displayed for easy access by both patients and coworkers. Additionally, ensure that a trained first aider is equipped to administer a Glucose Injection, similar to an EpiPen.

  • Recognize symptoms of high/low blood sugar: Familiarize yourself and others in the workplace with common signs like shaking, heavy sweating, and behaviour that may resemble intoxication. Prompt attention to these symptoms can prevent hospitalization. This connects with the emergency preparedness discussed in point one.

  • Foster teamwork: If your employee is comfortable sharing their diabetic status with their team, designate a work colleague to be aware of their condition and the signs of related illness. This ensures that there is always someone on-site who can help, even if others are working remotely.

  • Allow flexibility for hospital appointments: Acknowledge that diabetic employees may need to attend clinics during work hours. Offer flexible working arrangements so they can schedule appointments without impacting their work responsibilities.

  • Manage workload effectively: Ensure your employee has enough time in their workday to check their blood glucose levels and administer insulin, if necessary. Consider additional measures such as providing breaks during long meetings to accommodate their diabetes management needs.

  • Consider a risk assessment: Like with any employee illness, it’s important to assess and minimize workplace risks. Consider conducting a risk assessment specifically for employees with diabetes. Additionally, offering alternatives like sugar-free options can make a difference for their individual needs.

  • Provide secure storage: Diabetic employees will have medications to store at work. Ensure they have a safe and appropriate storage space. Insulin needs refrigeration, while other supplies require a locked drawer due to sharp needles. Providing a Sharps Bin for proper disposal is also essential.

  • Provide HR-led initiatives: Organize activities such as health forum and blood glucose screenings during the Philippines’ Diabetes Awareness Week, held every fourth week of July.

  • Enhance awareness and compliance: Promote understanding and adherence to governmental directives.

Employers can boost employee well-being through collaborative programs, such as promoting physical activity after work with group exercises. They can also raise awareness about the negative effects of prolonged sitting and a sedentary lifestyle and screen at-risk employees for these effects.

Enhance Understanding of Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes can be a costly condition, but as an employer, you have the power to make a difference. By helping your employees prevent and manage diabetes, you not only promote their health and productivity, but you also reduce healthcare expenses for both them and your company.

At Lockton, we understand the impact of diabetes on employee well-being and your bottom line. Our experts have extensive knowledge and experience in healthcare and wellness programs, enabling us to anticipate risk issues and develop tailored solutions. To learn more how we can assist you, visit our People Solutions (opens a new window) page or reach out to your local Lockton representative.