Support Employees with Cancer
A new guide developed by the National Business Group on Health and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network offers employers an online toolkit to help address the impact of cancer in the workplace. There are more cancer survivors in the workplace than ever before, so it is essential for employers to be able to offer the support these workers need as they deal with the treatment and recovery of this disease.
Cancer is a leading cause of disability claims each year. The recommendations for this guide focused on three main ideas:
- Return-to-work practices – A lot of people who have been diagnosed with cancer are very motivated to get back to work in order to create a sense of normalcy and control during a time when they may feel overwhelmed. A successful return-to-work strategy involves collaborative efforts from short-term disability case managers, an employee’s supervisor, and members of the Human Resources Department. This can make certain the employee is getting the support her or she needs to return to work in a safe and timely manner.
- Expertise of disability benefit specialists, and vocational resources – Cancer patients can experience a wide variety of side effects from treatment, including things that can make completing work tasks challenging such as fatigue and cognitive issues, sometimes referred to as “chemo-brain.” Short-term disability case managers should have the training needed to understand the employee’s overall health condition so they can provide the needed accommodations for the employee to transition back to work.
- Employee Assistance Program Coordination – Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) can be vital in helping the employee cope with their disease and all of the stressors that come with it. Cancer can bring an emotional burden on the employee and may also cause financial burdens and stress. Employee Assistance Programs allow employees to have access to licensed behavioral health professionals, trained to help employees with these burdens.
How to support a coworker
It’s hard to know exactly what to say to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. It can be hard in the workplace because relationships with coworkers can be so different. You might be close friends with a coworker, or you might just be acquaintances that only interact about work. The American Cancer Society recommends that you respond in a way that feels comfortable to you. You can show interest and concern, and you can offer support to a coworker with cancer. Also, don’t underestimate the value of just listening to someone who is going through this when they need to talk.