Employees may benefit from ahealth assessment  where body mass index (BMI) calculated,cholesterol checked, and complete an assessment tool designed toidentify if they are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

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A company culture is a strong and influentialtool that can move the needle within its workforce on a range ofissues. Companies can go green and raise employee awareness aboutenvironmental sustainability, or implementpolicies that show strong support for working parents.

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A company culture that focuses on health and wellness can have asignificant impact on many chronic conditions—including diabetes. Here's how to get started.

1. Evaluate your health and wellness programs

Many companies offer health and wellness programs that includethings like better nutritional options in cafeterias and vendingmachines, and organized fitness activities. But does your programdiscuss diabetes prevention and control specifically? Employees maybenefit from a forum, like a benefit fair, or a more formalhealth assessment as part of their benefitsenrollment, where employees can have their body mass index (BMI)calculated, cholesterol checked, and complete an assessment tooldesigned to identify if they are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

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Related: 10 states with the highest diabetesrates

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You can find a risk assessment test model on the American Diabetes Association website.Information gathered from such assessments can inform programmingbased on the employee population.

2. Raise awareness and education

Type 2 diabetes is a manageable and often preventable disease.There are many available resources designed for employer groupsthrough organizations like the YMCA, American Diabetes Associationand American Heart Association. These include awareness campaignsand activities, educating people about lifestyle choices that cansignificantly impact their health. The American Heart Associationoffers a “Life's Simple 7” list:

  1. Get active and stay active
  2. Control cholesterol
  3. Improve nutrition
  4. Manage blood pressure
  5. Lose weight
  6. Reduce blood sugar
  7. Stop smoking

3. Motivate

Consider offering incentives for employees who commit to makinglifestyle changes and show improvement on health metrics. You mayalso try wellness or health “challenges,” which can be a fun way ofencouraging healthier living, and could even spark conversationamong employees about ways to get and stay healthy.

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As a benefits provider with a philanthropic focus on diabetes,we have often talked about this disease and what it can mean foremployers' bottom lines. Employees with diabetes, particularly Type2, can suffer from chronic symptoms like fatigue and stress, aswell as serious health conditions, like heart or kidney disease.These conditions can lead to employees working sub-optimally, oftentaking days off or extended leave, which can impact productivityand health care costs.

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And diabetes keeps people suffering disabling conditions out ofwork longer. Analysis of Sun Life's short-term disability claimsfrom 2005 to 2017 showed that, on average, members who had diabetesstayed on leave about 72 percent longer than those with the samedisabling condition but no diabetes diagnosis.

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Employers can act as agents of change and have a real impact onthe overall health of their employees. Resources that offerresearch, strategy, and support are available through organizationslike The American Diabetes Association and The American HeartAssociation. By making health, fitness, and wellness an integralpart of the company culture, employers can address diabetes in away that boosts productivity, drives down absences and leavedurations, and helps employees lead healthier lives.


Read more: 


Sheila Weiss, RN, is assistant vicepresident, clinical claims services, Sun LifeFinancial U.S.

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