Diabetes is a major health issue in the UK. It is one of the fastest growing health concerns in the country, and it has almost doubled in prevalence since 1996. With 4.5 million Brits currently living with the condition as of 2016, it’s a disease which almost certainly affects you or someone you know.
Given these statistics, it’s also highly likely that you have a professional relationship with individuals who have diabetes. The nature of the health issues involved in the condition can make the workplace a tricky place for some diabetics, which is why it’s hugely important for employers to understand the disease and to offer appropriate support to their diabetic staff.
Providing this level of assistance and understanding doesn’t just help diabetic team members feel supported in their roles, it also ensures your company is providing equal opportunities and getting the absolute best from all members of staff.
Whether one of your employees has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, or a promising new applicant has disclosed that they have the condition, the following pointers will help you make your workplace a more supportive and positive place for team members with diabetes – and for your staff as a whole.
- Nurture a culture of openness
While health issues are personal by nature, it’s crucial that any staff member with a health concern feels comfortable and confident about coming to you (or a member of HR personnel). Many employees with health issues worry that disclosing a condition could negatively affect their employment prospects and their professional development, which is why it’s so important to nurture a culture of openness and supportiveness.
Regularly check in with all team members to find out if there are any steps you can take to help support their lifestyles and to find out if they have any concerns they’d like to discuss, treating every case sensitively and appropriately.
- Provide five-a-day
While fresh fruit from providers like Fruitful Office won’t by any means cure diabetes, it can help protect diabetic team members from future diabetes-related health conditions and even reduce the risk of non-diabetic employees going on to develop the disease. A recent study, which surveyed 500,000 Chinese adults found that those who ate fruit daily were 12% less likely to develop diabetes. While fruit consumption and healthier lifestyles more generally go hand in hand, the survey also found that diabetes sufferers who consumed fruit daily were 17% less likely to develop complications from their condition.
- Build in breaks
Coping with diabetes can be hard work and requires constant vigilance. From blood sugar tests, to injections and regular meals, managing the condition requires time and care, which means it’s important to allow for regular breaks at work. Regular breaks can also protect your workforce against back and neck problems and eye strain – just five minutes away from workstations (particularly computer screens) can make the world of difference. Before you plan a three hour meeting or beset your employee with a tight deadline, factor in the need for regular breaks to be considerate of their condition.
Are you a professional living with diabetes? What steps would make your working life easier? Have your say below and help make workplaces more diabetes friendly today.