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Amy Coleman on January 14, 2013
A recent article in Australia's The Conversation, "Creating a Friendly Workplace for People with Cancer," acknowledges the rapid rate at which cancer has become the leading cause of death and disability. In Australia, nearly 40% of all cancer diagnoses occurred in individuals in the prime of their working lives up until common retirement age (between the ages of 30 - 64), which parallels the statistics in the United States. These statistics underline the importance of creating a supportive work environment for anyone balancing work and cancer, whether they're a patient, survivor or caregiver.
A supportive work environment looks different to everyone and can be dependent upon industry and office type. In order to best pinpoint what this looks like for an employee and employer, one element of office culture cannot be compromised - clear communication. "Clear communication is key... [and] will ensure that people are not put under pressure. It also allows the employer to make alternative arrangements to address business productivity concerns." Clear communication should be regular, which will also help provide reassurance to everyone that you're still a part of the team. A lack of clear communication could lead to confusion and anxiety.
Always keep in mind that since disclosure is such a personal decision and looks differently for everyone, an employee should identify what that looks like for them. As an employer, supporting an employee balancing work and cancer is, as the article points out, a "two-way street." Of course, retaining valuable staff saves in hiring costs and keeps expertise close within a company. It can also boost morale, loyalty and a positive image both within and outside of the organization. Furthermore, there's the less tangible, humanistic philosophy placing an emphasis on the value and great importance of empathy and the human experience.
To access the original article in full, click here. More information on the ins and outs of sharing the news at work can be found here and details highlighting the importance of open, regular communication are located here. Learn even more about disclosure in our blog.