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November is National Diabetes Awareness month, an important time to examine what diabetes means for employers.

Because November is National Diabetes Awareness month, it is important to examine what diabetes means for employers. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 19 million working-age adults have diabetes. Twenty-six percent of them are undiagnosed and therefore likely not managing their disease. 

Even when managed, diabetes can cause symptoms like stress and fatigue, and result in chronic conditions such as hypertension and neuropathy. Stress in particular can be a major factor for those living with and managing diabetes. Checking blood sugar, taking medications, maintaining a balance of nutrition and exercise, and concerns about long-term health consequences can all be sources of distress for people living with diabetes. There is also a direct correlation between physical stress and poor glucose control, which can further complicate recovery from illness. Chronic health issues associated with diabetes can cause frequent, unplanned absences, which can cost employers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity. According to the Integrated Benefits Institute’s absence cost estimator tool, unplanned absences — 84 percent of which are due to illness or injury — would cost a company with 1,000 full-time employees $1.5 million annually in wage replacements and lost productivity. 

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