Anjali Ramnath

How corporates can undercut losses with healthier employees – Diabetes and weight management | Anjali Ramnath | Head – Enterprise Solutions | Fitterfly

Anjali RamnathA happier and healthier workplace is a crucial factor for improving the productivity and motivation of employees, especially in these times.

Of the many health conditions that can bog down an employee and prevent them from working to their full potential, diabetes is one of them.

Let the numbers speak

A study published in the journal GLobal Health suggests that by 2025, most people with diabetes in developing countries will be in the 45 to 64 year age group, thus threatening the economic productivity of the country and the income-earning ability of individuals.

In August 2021, a campaign was initiated by Fitterfly – #FightPrediabetes, which showed some startling data – For people over 40, with BMI above 23 and a family history of type 2 diabetes, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 40 times. Furthermore, with over 90 million people with prediabetes, 70% will convert to type 2 diabetes in the next 5-10 years. If we co-relate this data with the previous study, a considerable portion of the working population could be dealing with diabetes and its complications in the near future. This could lead to more absenteeism, sick leaves and even premature retirement from the refined talent pool of an organisation.

In India, an estimation of the loss to an organisation on account of absenteeism, loss of productivity of peers, subordinates, and managers due to a condition like diabetes is around INR 180,000 per year. A study published in the International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries in 2020 gave a glimpse of the median indirect cost
(highest spent by an individual or household) zone wise in India. The numbers are as follows:

North Zone ₹18,146/- p.a.
South Zone ₹1198/- p.a.
North-East Zone ₹18,707/- p.a.
West Zone ₹3949/- p.a.

While we are talking about diabetes, we cannot ignore another health factor that can greatly affect productivity and lead to absenteeism – obesity. According to another study, the prevalence of obesity in India is 40.3%. Obesity was higher among women than men (41.88% vs. 38.67%). Obesity has various health implications as it can increase one’s risk of suffering from various lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, PCOS and other hormonal complications. It also leads to mental health issues all of which can affect one’s quality of life and productivity at the workplace.

Studies also suggest that obesity is an independent risk factor that leads to absenteeism among working adults, more in women than men. So we can presume the economic burden and losses that organisations can face due to these health conditions.

So, how can corporations undercut losses with healthier employees? Here are a few suggestions:

Making employee wellness a priority: Many organisations realise the importance of employees wellness and enroll their workforce to healthcare package to boost employee morale and increase productivity. However, most of the time people fail to see desired outcomes or any concreate improvement in their overall health. This often happens because most of these programs are a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn’t work in the long run.

At Fitterfly, we have curated and designed personalised digital wellness packages that could benefit employees and keep them productive all year round. These digital wellness programs cater to the different needs of employees and are customised, taking into account their medical history and health goals. Also, these programs are effective and
stand to be the best investment done for employees.

Drive behavioural change: The unique programs that we offer for employee wellness are Diabefly Pro, Diabefly Reverse and Reset23. While programs in the Diabefly suite are the most advanced diabetes care programs with proven outcomes, Reset23 helps people lose stubborn fat and get their BMI to a healthy 23 without any
crash or fad diets.. Our programs focus on behavioural change by taking into account a person’s diet, physical activity levels, stressors, need gaps, challenges and other parameters through specialized software and data collected by the expert team and the Fitterfly Wellness App. Tools like IBT are used to ensure motivation.

Our programs have a three-pronged approach – nutrition, physical activity and mental wellness – the pillars of diabetes management that are mostly ignored.

Having better employee insurance policy and reimbursement plans: One way to ensure a healthier workforce is to have well-planned insurance cover for lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity-related complications. Also, incorporating DTx programs for medical reimbursements can work in this regard. The IRDA would do well to take note of the rising data in this regard. In fact in the USA, where DTx has shown promising outcomes, one can get full cover for some DTx programs, like Omada Health if signed through the employer.

Organising timely health check-ups: This will help an organisation to realise any underlying health crisis of an employee beforehand and take necessary action either at an individual level or at an organisation level.

All this is just one part of the story, our programs at Fitterfly help to analyze, interpret and take action on the basis of data collected pertaining to their health conditions. Guidance from a qualified expert in the particular area of concern is given prime importance . If for e.g. the HbA1C is high, then a consultation from a qualified diabetologist is a logical next step. In all of this , a personalised approach which caters to every person’s individual need is required . There are companies today who are adopting a more holistic approach in managing health conditions. This kind of an approach which looks at all aspects namely nutrition, lifestyle, exercise and mental wellbeing along with proper treatment protocols being followed is what will benefit an individual in the long run. A proactive approach, rather than a reactive one is what should be ones mantra to good health.

An organisation’s best asset is its workforce. So investing in their health and wellness is the best investment an organisation can make for optimum returns in productivity and, happy & healthy work culture.

Redefining culture of wellbeing – A culture of wellbeing is not an “ initiative”, but a permanent change in thinking and approach towards wellness. This needs to be reflected and deep rooted in management thinking. There is a need for such programs to be driven from the top and should percolate down to all levels in the organization culture. Only then will an organization benefit not only in terms of business performance but also in terms of having a happier workforce.

To know more about our programs, click here to help your employees stay healthier and promote an environment of productivity and wellness.

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Yesudian, C. A., Grepstad, M., Visintin, E., & Ferrario, A. (2014). The economic burden of diabetes in India: a review of the literature. Globalization and health, 10, 80.

Oberoi, S., Kansra, P. Economic menace of diabetes in India: a systematic review. Int J Diabetes Dev Ctries 40, 464–475 (2020).