Supporting employees back to work after cancer
For employees affected by cancer, being able to continue to work can be hugely important. Returning to work can restore a sense of normality and wellbeing, give back control and provide a sense of purpose and achievement. However, many cancer survivors find returning to work very hard as they cope with its short and longer term side effects. A 2012 Macmillan survey reported that 47% had to give up work or change their role as a result of their diagnosis. This demonstrates the importance of good support in the workplace.
I was successfully treated for breast cancer in 2014 and then for thyroid cancer in 2017. Despite having a strong network of family and friends, and a supportive employer, there were times when I felt very alone. Being able to share my feelings with colleagues who’d also been through cancer was immensely beneficial. I find it very rewarding being able to combine my personal experiences with my coaching and facilitation skills to help clients rebuild their confidence after cancer and return to work successfully.
It’s also very important for line managers, HR professionals, and colleagues to have access to support.
Helping them understand the impact cancer may have on the affected employee, offering guidance on how best to support them and handle communications sensitively.
Understanding what to do and say means you can effectively support an employee throughout their cancer journey, making a huge difference to their wellbeing. We should all be encouraging more open and honest conversations about cancer at work.
Supporting employees in this way makes good business sense too as:
Valuable skills, knowledge and experience are retained
Recruitment and replacement costs are avoided and there is less potential for staff going off sick again
It increases employee engagement and has a positive impact on morale
It avoids the risks of any legal claims or reputational damage
Working With Cancer
I am an Associate with Working With Cancer (WWC), a not- for- profit social enterprise which provides one to one coaching and practical support for employees and employers affected by cancer. Working With Cancer helps cancer sufferers and their carers remain in work during treatment and return to work afterwards. Working With Cancer also provides training workshops to help HR professionals and line managers support employees affected by cancer in their organisations.