June 10, 2011

Why Are You Missing Work?

While I had not really thought about it this way, it does answer some questions I was asked by some employers recently, specifically the human resource departments. I attended because the speaker wanted someone with diabetes he could call on. We had prepared for the meeting, but were hit with a few questions that took all of us by surprise. There were four of us on a panel (representing different non-contagious diseases) to answer questions plus the speaker.

This article goes a long way to answer one of the questions and another blogger did a good blog that covered another question. One of the questions was how liberal an employer should be in allowing absences by people with chronic diseases. Most of us had covered absences for doctor visits and other possible related absences. None of us was ready for one question. What about the times when an employee is unable to work a full day, but has no doctor appointment.

We all fumbled with this one. I mentioned depression as one possibility and hypoglycemia as another, but did not realize how much time was being lost. So this survey results article has been sent to the speaker to forward to the employers in attendance.

This survey was recorded from four countries – U.S., UK, Germany, and France and involved 1404 people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes that had reported a hypoglycemic event in the preceding month.

The average loss of workplace productivity on a per person, per month basis from a night-time hypoglycemic event was 14.7 missed hours of work or estimated dollar value of $2,294 per person, per year. It is noteworthy that 22.7 percent arrived late or missed a full day and events occurring during work hours showed 18.3 percent needing to leave work early or miss a full day.

Another piece of information also forwarded to the speaker and then to the employers is this from Diabetes Care via a BD Newsletter. This covers work loss and employees leaving work because of disability after age 55. Rather shocking and large numbers.  I had been alerted to this a few days ago by a fellow blogger.

The one recommendation the entire panel agreed should be considered by every employer was having a health screening at least annually for all employees. This would be a preventive measure and could be conducted during the workday and might help catch health issues before they became serious and then with follow-up would encourage people to take the steps to maintain good health. Emphasis was on stopping obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and related health issues.

These studies and the growing numbers of new diabetes every year is creating concern for employers. Some employers are taking positive actions and some are not handling the situation.


Pine Pienaar said...

Great article Bob. It might just be impossible to really determine the effect diabetes and other chronic diseases have in the workplace because a lot of employees hide their defects. Some for fears of discrimination (future promotions)others might fear been taken of s specific Job.
This is a major and involved subject

Bob Fenton said...

This is true for many types of jobs. With some employers, it is easier to determine because of the relationship they have with the employees. Still I doubt that 100 percent accuracy will be obtained.