Building Your Diabetes-Friendly Workplace

August 2020

Places of business are under a critical eye right now. Offices that have been able to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic have taken great steps to keep their employees safe. Those who have had to close their doors are busy laying the groundwork for a healthier workplace in the future.

It's clear that there's more work to be done to make workplaces more supportive of employees' health. Even once COVID-19 passes, other national health matters must be addressed—with diabetes as one of the most pressing.

Recently, we had the opportunity to chat about diabetes in the workplace with an expert at Roche Diabetes Care. With 12 years on the team, manager of new business development Jeff Claffey has some time-tested truths for business owners and benefits decision makers.

Diabetes is more prevalent than you think

"Diabetes is a significant concern within the workplace," states Claffey. "Employers rank diabetes in the top 3 conditions to focus on through wellness and disease management programs."

There's good reason for that concern. Diabetes is one of the quickest-growing diseases in the U.S., with no sign of slowing. Here are some ways it may affect your workplace:

  • Diabetes is very widespread—More than 34 million people in the U.S. have diabetes.1 On average, for every ten employees, one of them is likely to benefit from a robust diabetes benefits package.
  • Diabetes is invisible—Tall, short, heavyset or lean, diabetes can affect anyone and it won't be outwardly visible. That can add to the challenge, as people struggle inwardly while appearing "normal."
  • Diabetes is personal—Unfortunately, diabetes can still carry social stigma. Many people keep it from their coworkers and some don't even tell close friends. You may be aware that some of your employees have diabetes, but there may be more who haven't told you.

Creating a diabetes-friendly workplace

"The unfortunate truth is that employers might be stacking the odds against their employees with diabetes," offers Claffey. "Sedentary jobs coupled with lengthy commutes mean prolonged inactivity is increasingly common in today's workplace."

Turning an eye to other office conditions paints a challenging picture for employees with diabetes. Your office might not offer a discreet place to perform a finger-prick test to check blood sugar, and it may be difficult to find healthy food options on-site.

"Employers can create an inclusive work environment to help with disease management and avoidance. It doesn't have to be a huge undertaking," muses Claffey. "Your first step can be as easy as investing in a handful of standing desks and healthier snacks in your vending machines."

Bring in the experts

"We say it a lot, but there's truly no one-size-fits-all approach to managing diabetes," says Claffey. Management can include any or all of the following: testing blood sugar, taking medications, injecting insulin, watching food intake and exercising.

Rather than a blanket approach to management, the RocheDiabetes Health Connection offers personalized care for each of your employees. When they enroll in the program, each employee is connected with their own diabetes expert—a Certified Diabetes Educator®, or CDE.

"A CDE is a great addition to any diabetes care team, since they offer one-on-one support," Claffey explains. "They act as a personal coach and work with your employees to set goals and stick to realistic management plans. That personal touch is so critical during this time of remote management."

Our CDEs are available whenever employees need support, no matter where they are. Users can start a quick, text-based conversation with their coach through the mySugr app, or schedule a chat by phone or video. The RocheDiabetes Health Connection makes expert information and support easier to access in more places. When support is this easy to access, better outcomes come naturally.

Whether you take a small step forward or commit yourself to larger, institutional change, better diabetes benefits will bring out the best in your workplace. Schedule your quick, 15-minute demo to get started.

1CDC. National Diabetes Statistics 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.Pdf. Accessed August 4, 2020.