This week on the Manufacturing Wellness podcast we are discussing diabetes in the workforce and how employers can help support their employees who struggle with blood sugar stability.
Right now, one out of every 10 Americans has diabetes, and one out of every three are pre-diabetic. There is the assumption that by 2051 in three Americans will be diabetic. That is staggering. A third of our population will be deemed diabetic, it is critical that we start stepping up and taking actions now let’s talk about how this affects our workforce. Well, two of the biggest areas are absenteeism and health care costs. The average person will spend an additional $14,000 a year if they have diabetes. That’s two to three times more than someone that does it. So this is significant. But when we talk about absenteeism, it’s not just the fact that somebody is not coming to work. There’s that ripple effect. You are now having to especially if you’re a manufacturing line, you’re having to replace somebody maybe that means getting your supervisor on the line to replace that worker that’s out that adds additional stress slows down productivity, maybe it’s even putting safety at risk, but then it also has the effect for your other workers, the ones that have to step in and carry more of a workload, it has a symbiotic effect to the whole organization. So one of the simplest things we can do is help support our workforce in managing their diabetes and preventing it for those that do not have diabetes, it’s really about understanding. A lot of times, diabetes, from my experience, it’s kind of like I have got diabetes, no big deal. A lot of times they’re not even properly monitoring their blood sugar, and that’s a scary thing anytime we have blood sugar instabilities, we should be monitoring our blood sugar if we have diabetes or monitoring our symptoms if maybe it’s just we know we have an instability or an insulin resistance, But beyond that, we need to be educating ourselves how food affects us. And you know I’d love to tell you there is a one diet that fixes diabetes that fixes everything and it doesn’t. Historically we’ve always believed that low carb diets have been best for diabetes. But yet we have research that tells us almost the exact opposite.
So what does this lead us to believe it makes us believe that there’s not one diet that is perfect for everybody. And that’s why it’s really important that we become advocates for ourselves, that we help our employees become advocates for their selves. So, as an employer what can we do you know a lot of times people don’t realize how critical diabetes can be. When we talk about the complications from diabetes, rolling out cardiovascular disease, kidney issues, nerve damage, foot, skin conditions, hearing problems, the list goes on and I’ll tell you I have the experience of having a grandmother, that was diabetic. She had diabetes which lead to heart disease, and ended up dying at a young age she was 72 years old from a heart attack, and that is key week, this is so much more than I just need a shot. If I eat a brownie, we really need to be taking precautions for that. So, as an employer, what are some things that we can do? Let’s start with education. Education is the biggest area where we can make a bigger impact. Bringing professionals in to talk about the effects of diabetes, to discuss some options that they have. We can then bring in health coaching or diabetes management programs to help those that have diabetes. And might I add, health coaching for all your employees is a good idea, you know, we could start looking at adding some healthier snacks in. Now that doesn’t mean, eliminating all the other snacks, it just, it’s about giving somebody, an opportunity to make a healthier choice. Adding in fitness classes or walking trails or allowing them to have time that they can do some fitness type movement is really key in helping to manage that stress, or that those sugar levels. Well, I guess that brings me to the next one is stress management, actually stress will directly affect sugar levels so if you’re already have in sugar instabilities stress is only going to make it worse. And that’s really were bringing in those stress management classes, having our employees understand how they can better recognize and manage stress would be key in controlling those blood sugars and the diabetes, and of course there’s always the health fair’s because the scariest thing is every health fair I have worked in somebody who has had blood sugar higher than they’ve ever known. So it’s really important that they are getting those initial glucose reading, and then having their blood taken to have more of an understanding through their A1C, letting people understand what A1C actually means. Sometimes they just think of it as a number that they want to see under five, but they don’t really understand what that A1C number actually means. So it’s really important so one of the things I always tell somebody if they’re having a health fair. Make sure you’re bringing a nurse or a health coach in and actually the best circumstances is bringing both of them in, because when someone can get their biometrics done, then they can go to the nurse and they can get some more information, and then they can come see the health coach, which can help them find themselves to the right path that works for them. You know one of the biggest things is diabetes we always thought diabetes meant a low carb diet. Well, there’s actually new research out that shows that actually, diabetes, diabetics can actually do really well on a high carb, low fat, high plant diet. So it’s really about having understanding of what works best, you know if we have studies that say, low carb works best, but then we have another study that says high carb, how are we supposed to know which one we’re supposed to be on well, you’re really not, that’s where you need to work with healthcare professionals. To find out what is the best and most sustainable for each individual. And these are just a few steps that we can start taking to Brett raise awareness of diabetes in our organization and how we can address it if you would like more information about classes for diabetes management within your organizations, maybe you’d like to start to open that conversation on how your employees can better support their diabetes, let’s have a conversation, you can email me at Laura at Laura timbrook.com Hey guys thanks for listening. My name is Laura Timbrook. I’m a national board certified health and wellness and wellbeing strategist for the manufacturing industry, if you like what you’re hearing. Please share this with your organization. If you want to talk more about improving your organization’s overall well being, you could visit, Laura timbrook.com, my goal is to improve the well being of your manufacturing workforce.