Understand that each case is individual with different and often complex needs - there are no words, actions or situations that work for everyone.
The following video, provided by the Beatson Cancer Charity, features some of their service users talking about their real life experiences. It demonstrates how your approach as a manager can make a big difference to an employee living with cancer, or caring for a close one living with cancer.
All you need to know in 30 seconds
More than 100,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed every year within the working-age population of the UK. Being diagnosed is a life-changing event and can cause many other problems for employees, such as mental health issues. Employees who are carers for someone with cancer can also develop health problems due to the demands of their caring role.
- It can be difficult to talk about cancer, but you don't need to be an expert in counselling; just listening to the employee helps, and enables you to arrange for extra support and any adjustments they may need.
- Each case is individual and will likely require different and tailored support. If you find areas you cannot help or advise the employee with, speak to the occupational health department to find out who can offer this support and arrange for it to happen.
- It's important for you to make time to be there when the employee needs you, and that you focus on being positive and supportive. Always talk through the options with the employee to plan the best way forward.
- Familiarise yourself with the Board’s arrangements regarding ill-health retirement and counselling, and contact occupational health or the HR Support and Advice Unit for further help.
All you need to know in detail
There are more than 100,000 cases of cancer diagnosed every year within the working-age population of the UK. Many of these people will continue to work during their treatment, and return to work after they recover. However being diagnosed with cancer is still a life-changing event and can cause many other side effects such as depression and anxiety. People taking care of those with cancer can also develop health problems, due to emotional strain and physical exhaustion.
Take time to talk to and listen to your employee. Although cancer can be difficult to talk about, and you may be unsure of what to say to support your employee, you don’t need to be an expert in counselling to help. For many people dealing with cancer, just knowing that colleagues are there to support them can be a great help, and what really matters is that you are ready to help the employee when needed, with time to listen and the ability to arrange extra help where required.
Understand that each case is individual with different and often complex needs - there are no words, actions or situations that work for everyone. Each employee will require tailored and personalised help. Listening carefully will help you to offer the right support to your employee; if you can’t provide certain help or advice, find out who can offer this support speak to the occupational health department to find out who can offer this support and arrange for it to happen.
Always talk through the options with the employee to plan the best way forward. You can put the employee at ease when you talk to them by:
- giving them your full attention
- having the talk in a calm, quiet and relaxed environment, free from interruptions
- letting the employee lead the conversation and encouraging them to talk
- not rushing the conversation
- trying to keep the conversation as supportive and positive as you can
Offer the employee services they might need such as: workplace adjustments, time off, or counselling. Contact the Occupational Health Department to find out what additional support may be of assistance. Further information on Cancer Support is also available via the NHSGGC Health & Wellbeing Services Directory.
Ensure you familiarise yourself with the Board’s Attendance Management Policy and related guidance, including ill-health retirement and managing long-term absence.
Macmillan Cancer Support has many useful sources of information and help freely available on their website at www.macmillan.org.uk. They have also produced this helpful guide about managing cancer in the workplace.