- Gain as much information as possible: Knowing which support your employee can access, plus learning what they may go through and how this can affect not only their work but also other team members, can help maintain employee wellbeing and keep the team working as well as it can. A happier and healthier team is a more productive one after all.
- Keep communication open: Keeping communication open with your employee who is off with cancer, as well as communicating updates with the team if your employee asks you to, will help to keep everyone in the loop without intruding on your employee’s privacy.
- Take care of your own wellbeing: Supporting an employee with cancer, as well as their colleagues, can place extra pressure on you which can be emotionally and physically draining. It is important to acknowledge and evaluate your own wellbeing as part of the process.
Learning that your employee has cancer may not be something you expect to hear, however 1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime and almost half of people living with cancer are of working age.
Supporting employees with cancer can feel like a difficult situation to manage, yet with the right amount of information and support it can be navigated with minimal disruption and can be beneficial in maintaining relationships.
Here we share how you can effectively manage your employee off sick with cancer with the productivity and wellbeing of your team and employee in mind.
Knowing what to say to your employee with cancer
It can be difficult to know what to say to an employee with cancer, you may feel torn between wanting to offer support and empathy yet feeling unsure how to deal with the situation. Our employee cancer support FAQs can offer some valuable insights for employers.
It might be difficult to find the time to discuss their diagnosis fully before they need to take time off for tests and treatment. Making time however is really important whether in person or with a call.
Communication is key, especially when discussing financial support as this will be one of your employees big concerns as well as dealing with the disease. Avoid promising financial support without knowing what’s possible. You may be keen to reassure your employee that everything will be fine for them financially to enable them to focus on their illness, yet it is best to find out what reasonable adjustments might be needed and whether your employee wants to try to continue to work through treatment.
Offering your employee practical support
Your company should already have a cancer wellbeing and support policy and/or package in place; it’s worth getting to know this in full so that you can communicate what your employee with cancer is entitled to whilst they are off.
The Equity Act was brought into English, Scottish and Welsh Employment Law in 2010 which protects people with cancer from unfair treatment. It states that as an employer, you must make reasonable adjustments to support their illness such as offering flexible working hours, changing the job where needed, working from home if and when their role allows and protecting them from being made redundant or their employment being terminated.
Employees receiving a stage IV diagnosis are also protected by law. Discussions around whether they wish to continue to work should be left to your employee, however, legally they do not have to tell you the stage of their cancer diagnosis.
Your HR department will know the financial support you can offer to your employee and whether or not your company may be able to offer additional support and reasonable adjustments.
Communicating your employee’s cancer with the wider team
Supporting and managing a team member with cancer does not only involve your employee, it can affect the whole team.
There may be team members who have a close friendship with their colleague, therefore it can feel difficult knowing how to communicate updates with them and especially in telling them their colleague and friend has cancer to begin with. You must wait for permission from your employee who has cancer before you tell the team, but they may prefer you to communicate their illness and updates rather than face questions themselves or they may wish for everything to be confidential.
Whether you can tell the team about your employee’s cancer or not, it will be essential to discuss the implications of a potential change to their working pattern. Reducing or splitting your employee with cancer’s workload will help to keep their work going whilst allowing adjustments to allow for the extra work as a whole.
Being honest and open can help to build trust and will help team members feel included, it can also lift spirits if there is good news with regards to your employees recovery.
Offering emotional support to your employee and to the team
There are many cancer charities and other organisations you can access for advice and support for yourself and to help support your team. You could set up a support group, offer counselling, speak to us to discuss the support we offer, plus encourage employees to look after their wellbeing outside of work.
Keeping your own well being in check
Managing an employee with cancer can be difficult emotionally. It can also place extra stress on you whilst supporting your team and dealing with additional duties.
It is important to look after yourself to be able to manage your team the best you can.
Here at Perci we offer comprehensive cancer support for everyone affected by cancer.