When considering how cancer fits in to your organisation’s Well-being strategy, you may focus on prevention and early detection. Offering screening opportunities for staff and raising awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer are important activities to include. But what about your staff who have been diagnosed with cancer and have remained in or returned to work? How can ensure your Well-being strategy takes into consideration their needs?

I wonder if you’ve heard about the Workplace Wellbeing Charter? The Charter is now widely recognised as the leading business standard for health, safety & wellbeing across England.

There are a number of benefits that organisations gain from using the Charter and what’s particularly useful is the ability to audit and benchmark the health, safety and wellbeing of employees against an established and independent set of standards as well as a clear structure on which to base health, safety & wellbeing strategies and plans. Last but not least, the Charter award also helps to strengthen an organisation’s brand and reputation.

The standards set out in the Charter and the supporting toolkit materials are free, yes free, for all organisations to use on the website.

How is the Workplace Wellbeing Charter relevant to work and cancer?

The Charter focuses on three key areas – leadership, culture and communication – where even small steps can make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of staff. There are also three levels of standard to be achieved – commitment, achievement and excellence.

Utilising Macmillan’s Work and Cancer resources and training workshops to improve the support you provide to staff affected by cancer can help meet some key standards under leadership, culture and communication.

Some of the standards within the Charter covered by Macmillan’s training and consultancy services concern:

The quality and frequency of employee consultation and communication

  • The role and approach of senior management to employee wellbeing
  • Understanding the implications of the Equality Act
  • The implementation of flexible working practices and reasonable adjustments
  • The implementation of return to work policies and procedures
  • Effective absence monitoring – collecting and monitoring data on the reasons for absence and the effectiveness of return to work policies
  • Policies to support staff with longer term, chronic conditions like cancer.

Clearly, signing up to the Charter or engaging with Macmillan at Work comprise only a small part of the journey towards providing effective support to employees with cancer and other chronic conditions, but it’s a good beginning.

Do you have a question about work and cancer? Email us on workandcancer@macmillan.org.uk.

Barbara Wilson is Founder of Working With Cancer. For more information click on www.workingwithcancer.co.uk