1.5 million deaths in 2019 were directly caused by diabetes, making it the ninth leading cause of death globally. With the number of people with diabetes steadily increasing over the past few decades, it is time for business leaders to address the issue. In general, diabetes prevention can be incorporated into a company’s overall wellness programs. While diabetes coverage is included in almost every employer-sponsored health plan, there are additional ways companies can support employees with diabetes. In commemoration of World Diabetes Day this week, HR in Asia will share some insights on how to manage diabetes at work.
Understanding the Importance
World Diabetes Day coincides at a time when the world is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. This has not only resulted in a high proportion of diabetic patients among hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 manifestations, but has also caused serious disturbances in diabetes services.
Type 2 diabetes is a prevalent condition in which the level of sugar, or glucose, in the blood becomes excessively high. Simple lifestyle changes have been encouraged to help prevent or postpone the onset of type 2 diabetes. People should achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, be physically active, and consume a balanced diet to help avoid type 2 diabetes and its comorbidities. Since many adults are spending most of their time at the office, companies can surely take on this movement as part of the efforts to create a healthier workplace. Here are thorough insights on how these efforts can be incorporated in day-to-day company activities.
Arrange a Periodic Medical Check-up
Providing health insurance may not be enough to prevent the risk of diabetes; companies need to consider arranging a periodic medical check-up. This can be something as simple as conducting a monthly blood sugar test for all employees. This type of early screening is inexpensive and relatively simple, since the testing kit can be purchased from the nearest drugstore. Having this test kit readily available in the office can be really useful. Always keep the equipment necessary to address a low-blood sugar situation readily accessible. If you want more advanced screening, you can arrange an annual medical check-up for all employees to examine their overall health, which covers screenings for potential diseases including diabetes.
Encourage Physical Activities
It is not a secret that a weekday 9 to 5 schedule can easily take away people’s time to exercise. In most cases, employees simply have no time to exercise in the morning or are too tired to do that after working hours. Given that physical activities are important to maintain health and prevent the risk of getting diabetes, you can plan for a weekly or biweekly mandatory office workout, for example every Friday morning. Taking one to two hours to let your employees exercise, be it provided from the office or have one on their own, will not impede your business operation that much.
If you think that providing dedicated time for your employees to exercise may not work, you can opt for providing simple fitness facilities in the office. Ask the general affair department and see if your office can afford a simple walking pad or a treadmill. Since this tool does not take up much space and can be accessed indoors, your employees can use it any time they want. Some of them may try it solely for the sake of having fun, but what begins as a funny activity can actually bring a positive health influence to combat the risk of diabetes.
Consume a Balanced Diet
Another easy way in preventing diabetes in the office can start from what is served on the plate; a balanced diet. Your employees’ daily diets need to have all the necessary nutrients, such as carbohydrate, protein, fat and vitamins, but with moderate to low fat and sugar levels. Deep-fried and processed instant foods can bring negative health impacts when consumed too often, although they often serve as a major carbohydrate and protein source. Luckily, you can replace these not-so-healthy foods with alternatives, such as Shirataki rice and air-fried foods. Many companies provide catering lunch for their employees and this can be incorporated with initiatives to promote healthier diet. Consult with a dietitian and see if you can come up with healthy-but-tasty menus for your employees’ lunch. You can also provide healthier snacks that are low in sugar, but high in fibres for your office snack stack instead of all sugary and sweet munchies.
It takes sincere commitment for companies to safeguard their employees from health risks, including diabetes that are getting more and more prominent among adults. After all, employees are more than just ‘wheels’ to keep the business operation running; they are human beings who are at risk of both physical and mental illnesses. With an awareness on the severity of diabetes, employees should now start to act and make real efforts to prevent diabetes in the office.