How employers can support people living with cancer in the workplace

Karen Titcomb our consultant managing the role

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and its impact on individuals and their families is profound.

In addition to the physical symptoms, cancer patients often experience mental health challenges and navigating the workplace can be daunting for those undergoing treatment. Employers have a crucial role in supporting employees with cancer, not only by providing flexible work arrangements but also by creating a compassionate and understanding work environment. In this article, we will discuss the ways in which employers can support people suffering with cancer in the workplace.

Understanding Cancer

Before diving into how employers can support employees with cancer, it is important to understand what cancer is and its impact on individuals. Cancer refers to a group of diseases that result in abnormal cell growth, leading to the formation of tumours that can spread to other parts of the body. It is a complex disease that not only affects physical health but also mental and emotional well-being. The treatment for cancer can be intensive, with side effects such as fatigue, nausea, and pain, which can significantly impact an individual's ability to work.

Creating a Supportive Work Environment

One of the most important ways employers can support employees with cancer is by creating a supportive work environment. This includes having open and honest communication with the employee, ensuring confidentiality of their medical information, and making necessary accommodations to ease their workload. Employers should also educate themselves and their staff about cancer and its impact on individuals, to foster empathy and understanding in the workplace.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Cancer treatment can be physically and emotionally draining, making it difficult for employees to maintain a traditional 9-5 work schedule. Employers can support their employees by offering flexible work arrangements such as remote work options, reduced hours, or the ability to take time off when needed. This not only allows employees to focus on their treatment but also reduces stress and anxiety related to balancing work and treatment.

Providing Emotional Support

Cancer can take a toll on an individual's mental health, and employers have a responsibility to provide emotional support to their employees. This can include offering access to counselling services or creating a safe space for employees to express their feelings and concerns. Employers should also consider implementing peer support programs where employees can connect with others who have gone through similar experiences.

Accommodations in the Workplace

Some employees may require accommodations in the workplace to continue their job responsibilities while undergoing cancer treatment. Employers should work with their employees to identify and implement necessary accommodations, such as a comfortable workspace, breaks for rest or medication, or modified duties. This not only helps employees manage their workload but also shows compassion and understanding from the employer.

Encouraging Self-Care

Taking care of oneself is crucial for cancer patients, and employers can encourage self-care practices in the workplace. This can include promoting healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, eating nutritious meals, and managing stress. Employers should also allow employees to take breaks or time off when needed to attend medical appointments or rest.

Creating a Return-to-Work Plan

Returning to work after cancer treatment can be challenging, and employers should work with their employees to create a return-to-work plan. This can include gradually increasing workload, providing additional support and accommodation during the transition period, and having regular check-ins to ensure the employee's well-being. Employers should also communicate openly with their employees about any changes in job responsibilities or accommodations that may be needed.

25/01/24
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