Diabetes in the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. If you’re an employer or business owner, it’s crucial to understand how diabetes can affect your workplace. With the right tools and strategies, employers can support their employees and create a working environment where everyone can thrive. Here’s a closer look at how diabetes affects the workplace and what employers can do about it.

The Effects of Diabetes in the Workplace

Employees with diabetes may face particular challenges in the workplace. For example, they may need extra time off work for medical appointments or have difficulty meeting deadlines due to fatigue or other health-related issues. Furthermore, they may require accommodations such as additional breaks during the day or access to equipment like insulin pumps or glucose meters. Employers must be aware of these potential challenges to provide adequate support for their employees with diabetes.

There are also physical effects of diabetes in the workplace. Here are some of them:

Poor Oral Health

Employees who have diabetes often suffer from poor oral health due to their condition. This can lead to increased dental absences, which can hurt productivity. Senior employees with diabetes are most susceptible to this and are likely to lose most of their teeth. Therefore, dental professionals suggest employers give senior employees robust dental implants to ensure that it doesn’t lead to oral cancer. Implants can protect the gums from oral bacteria and make it easier for employees to eat, speak, and perform routine office work.

Reduced Energy Levels

Employees with diabetes often experience fatigue due to their condition. This can lead to reduced energy levels during the day and decreased productivity. Employees may also feel sluggish or unfocused, making it difficult with diabetes. This can lead to discomfort and reduced productivity in the workplace.


Employers must also be mindful of their employees’ privacy rights when discussing their health conditions with coworkers and supervisors. They should ensure that all conversations regarding an employee’s health are kept confidential unless there is a legitimate reason for disclosing this information (e.g., an emergency requiring medical attention). Additionally, employers should make sure that they are not discriminating against individuals with diabetes by providing them with fair opportunities for career advancement and training opportunities.

An employee getting tired at work

How Employers Can Support Employees With Diabetes

The best way for employers to support their employees with diabetes is by providing them with an environment where they feel comfortable discussing their health status without fear of discrimination or stigma. Here are other options that can help employers help deal with diabetes in the workplace:

Flexible Scheduling Accommodations

When managing diabetes, planning is vital. Employees with diabetes may need more flexibility when scheduling work days or taking breaks throughout the day for blood sugar monitoring and insulin injections. Flexible scheduling accommodations can help ensure your employee can manage their diabetes without sacrificing productivity.

Health Insurance Coverage

Diabetes requires continuous medical care and supplies, such as glucose monitors and test strips which can be expensive if not covered by health insurance. Offering comprehensive health insurance coverage for employees with diabetes will ensure that they have access to all of the medical care and supplies they need for their condition without financial burden.

Educational Resources

One way employers can support employees with diabetes is by providing educational resources about how best to manage the condition in the workplace. This could include information on managing stress levels, proper nutrition, and physical activity while working long hours or dealing with other tasks throughout the day. Additionally, providing educational resources about how other employers successfully handle accommodations for individuals with diabetes may also be beneficial, as well as offering regular training on how to best support such individuals within your organization.

Managing Health Risks While At Work

Finally, it’s essential to consider any health risks associated with specific jobs or tasks while managing an employee with diabetes. For example, if someone has low blood sugar levels due to their condition, they should be discouraged from operating heavy machinery or engaging in strenuous physical activity until they have stabilized their blood sugar levels through food consumption or medication intake as applicable, depending on their type of diabetes.

Living with diabetes presents unique challenges both in and out of the workplace—but these challenges don’t have to be insurmountable if employers take steps toward creating an inclusive working environment where staff members feel supported and respected regardless of any pre-existing medical conditions they may have. This can help ensure that employees with diabetes have the resources and support they need to succeed in their roles.

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