Despite the fact that half of all people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, it remains an intensely personal matter, different for everyone who experiences it.
Some people will openly share their new situation, others will need some time to get to grips with what it means for them before telling anyone else, while others may feel guilty or ashamed or want to avoid “making a fuss”.
There may or may not be apparent symptoms of illness, depending on how early the cancer is caught, where it is primarily located and so on. The important thing is that nobody is obliged to make details about their health known.
Living with many forms of cancer will have an effect on a person’s ability to work. The last thing a cancer patient needs is the added stress of losing their income.
Iit is better for everyone when employees can rely on their employer to support them through a difficult time rather than keeping important information to themselves out of fear for their livelihood.
Creating a culture of empathy and security starts at the top, with senior management empowering their team leaders and supervisors to listen to the people they work with and be supportive, sympathetic advocates for them.
We aren’t suggesting team leaders should be everyone’s best friend – that would compromise their ability to manage – but their relationship with their teams should be one of mutual respect and collaboration, not surveillance and antagonism.
One way in which employers can demonstrate their commitment to encouraging such a culture is to have employee benefits in place which provide help to employees in exactly these circumstances.
Group Income Protection (GIP) started life as a simple salary replacement for injured or disabled workers but, over the past 10 years, has evolved into a comprehensive suite of absence management and wellbeing support tools for employees and employers alike.
Typical policies may now include, rolled into the policy premium and free at the point of use, an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), second medical opinion service, early intervention service (EIS) and rehabilitation support.
Group Critical Illness (GCI) has likewise been enhanced in recent years and, as well as providing a lump sum payment on diagnosis, could allow for a personal nurse adviser to contact the employee and offer practical and emotional support. That support is available for as long as the employee needs it – some people will still receiving help 10 or more years after their claim was made.
Employee Assistance Programme
As the name implies, an EAP is designed to be there to help employees with anything at all that might be troubling them. The breadth of this service cannot be underestimated for someone living with cancer.