Knock Out Diabetes With… Social Support?

Strong social support at work can help prevent diabetes.

Sound crazy?

It isn’t. This new study out of Israel shows that employees with higher levels of positive social support at work had a 22% lower chance of developing diabetes over the course of the study (3.5 years). On the flip side, over- or under-worked employees had an 18% higher chance. These employees were 48 years old, on average, which lines up well with the current state of the American population.

It’s amazing what a positive work environment can do for your employees’ health, isn’t it? Even beyond healthy food options, opportunities for fitness activity during the day, and health plan incentives, social support has a significant impact.

The interesting bit here is the link between being under-worked and the increased risk of diabetes. The study’s leader says that under-working somebody can lead to increased risk because the employee isn’t feeling challenged. That lack of challenge results in lower job satisfaction.

Which is true. That is true, don’t ever forget it, employees like being challenged at work. (The good ones, anyway.) However, I would also wager that this lack of work causes higher risk for diabetes and weight gain through the employee’s lack of physical activity. If they’re expected to sit at their desk, regardless of whether they have actual work that needs done, all that does is increase the amount of time your employee is sitting during the day — and we already know the perils of sitting for too long.

All this study does is increase the importance of having a positive work environment. You can achieve this through a well-run, company-wide wellness program. You also get the benefits of better overall employee health (including lower diabetes risk!), lower medical costs, higher productivity, and lower absence rates.

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