The Impacts of Type 2 Diabetes in the Workplace and How Employers Can Help

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 37.3 million Americans – about one in 10 – have diabetes, and 90-95% of them have Type 2 diabetes. More alarming, about one in five people with diabetes don’t know they have it. This poses great challenges – and some opportunities – for employers who wish to help their employees manage their Type 2 diabetes and improve their quality of life.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Type 2 is more common in older adults, but the increase in the number of children with obesity has led to more cases of Type 2 diabetes in younger people. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) affirms that Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease today.

Unfortunately, in addition to the emotional and physical challenges the disease poses to individuals, the increase in diabetes comes at a cost to the economy and employers alike. The ADA finds that the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes is more than $327 billion, which includes $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in reduced productivity. Indirect costs, which greatly impact employers, include:

  • Increased absenteeism ($3.3 billion)
  • Reduced productivity while at work ($26.9 billion) for the employed population
  • Inability to work as a result of disease-related disability ($37.5 billion)
  • Lost productive capacity due to early mortality ($19.9 billion)

Other studies confirm these findings about absenteeism and lost productivity; the Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Reviews found that respondents with diabetes reported higher rates of presenteeism (1.1 vs. 0.7 hours per week), absenteeism (1.4 vs. 1.1 hours per week) and decreases in productivity due to illnesses (2.5 vs. 1.8 hours per week) compared to respondents without diabetes.

Supporting Team Members with Type 2 Diabetes

As an employer, your team members with diabetes or even prediabetes will likely be covered under your health insurance and wellness plans. But is there more that employers can do to support employees with diabetes?

According to the leaders behind Aduro® Connect Care, a new solution for Type 2 diabetes management, from the emotional stress of diagnosis to the physical and financial strain of daily maintenance, Type 2 diabetes has a negative impact upon all six interrelated Aspects of Life. “To us, treating diabetes is not about just managing the disease, but addressing the person holistically. Type 2 diabetes is not who people are, or the only thing they are focusing on. They are living their lives, and diabetes is one part of it,” says Aduro’s Connect Care Health Director, Heather King. ”So, at Aduro we focus on all of the elements that lead to a whole healthy life – emotional, behavioral, biological – and that affect that employees’ ability to proactively manage their Type 2 diabetes and overall health. It’s about seeing each individual as a whole person, and meeting them where they are in the moment,” she advocates.

Here are ideas on how employers can develop complementary programs that match Aduro’s six Aspects of Life to help those with Type 2 diabetes, support that simultaneously benefits your broader employee workforce as a whole.

Mindset and Resilience

According to a Harvard Business Review article, more than five decades of research suggest that resilience is built by attitudes, behaviors, and social supports that can be adopted and cultivated by anyone. The good news is that because there’s a concrete set of behaviors and skills associated with resilience, every employee can learn to be more resilient. To help strengthen the mindset and resilience, employers can:

  • Support employees’ efforts to boost resilience at work by listening to them through surveys around job satisfaction and asking them about the organization’s relationship with its team.
  • Organize mindfulness programming through online resources or webinars.
  • Arrange for peer-to-peer learning to connect with colleagues.
Purpose and Contribution

Social belonging is a fundamental human need, hardwired into our DNA. And yet, 40% of people say that they feel isolated at work. The result has been lower organizational commitment and engagement. To help strengthen your organization’s purpose and the value of employee contributions, employers can:

  • Develop a common core values mind frame within an organization, focusing upon values-based leadership. According to Forbes, values-based leadership instills a common set of values in all employees, improving their cohesiveness and willingness to work together.
  • Allow time for each employee to add value to the organization by insisting on designated “no meeting” timeframes, providing workers with time for uninterrupted focus.
Lifestyle and Health

Understanding that 61% of today’s workforce desires greater work-life balance and improved personal wellbeing, it’s critically important to invest in your team’s healthy lifestyles. To do so, employers can:

  • Allow flexibility for team members to work from home, volunteer, or pursue things that are meaningful to them outside of the workplace.
  • Build on-site workout facilities, subsidize gym memberships, or provide healthy food and beverage options.
  • Get your team members moving. Hold walking meetings and insist on microbreaks to stretch and refresh.
Relationships and Community

Blind and deaf author, disability and labor rights advocate Helen Keller inspired many by saying, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” Using this as inspiration, employers can take the following steps to help build community at work:

  • Set up an ERG – Employee Resource Group – focused on volunteerism to build connections and strengthen community.
  • Celebrate. Appreciation and recognition for employees have a huge positive impact on workplace morale, and a majority of employees consider it part of why they are happy at work.
Development and Growth

Inspiring employees to discover new possibilities in their work and life helps to create a culture where people connect, grow, and flourish. To inspire workers to discover new possibilities, employers can:

  • Ensure that annual performance reviews are done on time for everyone and inquire about their professional goals.
  • Train managers to recognize talent and foster employee growth, even if it means creating a new position for them.
  • Enact a mentoring program to get the double benefit of your employees learning something new and creating community.

Money and Prosperity

According to a recent Gallup poll, a significant increase in income or benefits has risen to the top as the most important factors to deciding on whether to accept a new job offer. Knowing this, employers must consider the best strategies to retain top talent and can:

  • Hold professional development workshops on setting financial goals, creating and sticking to a budget, and communicating free financial planning resources.
  • Honestly evaluate compensation; look for ways to provide additional financial support such as on-the spot gift cards, spot raises, bonuses, and new benefit options like IRAs.

“The new Connect Care solution for Type 2 diabetes management was developed as part of Aduro’s strategic alliance with two of the nation’s leaders in health care, Cincinnati, Ohio-based Bon Secours Mercy Health and Renton, WA-based Providence Health,” King notes. Through Aduro® Connect Care, employees are supported with a human-centered approach to help team members take control of their life, and feel cared for and invested in.

To address the broad challenges people with Type 2 diabetes face, Connect Care utilizes Aduro’s expert coaching, innovative content available in various formats for easy access, and a focus on mental health resiliency as the underpinning to improved health. The Connect Care coaches are Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (CDCES), each certified to have 1,000 hours of experience in diabetes management, regularly engage with each employee user, and are assigned to that client throughout their entire diabetes management journey.

For more information on Aduro® Connect Care, visit: