With almost half of Britons expected to be living with a chronic illness by 2030, the health and wellbeing movement is a welcome trend. But business leaders should consider if their programme is fit for the future.
Whilst many of these evolve around prevention they should also focus on support for staff living with long term conditions. It makes business sense to get it right; supporting staff the right way has a positive economic impact, ensures talent retention and is good for reputation. Plus of course, it fulfils legal obligations.
It also benefits the individual. Our research shows that of the 120,000 people of working age diagnosed with cancer each year many will continue to work after, or even through, their treatment – finding it helps promote their recovery and better health outcomes
Business imperative for action
There is a strong business case for supporting staff who wish to remain in or return to work following treatment, whether it is for cancer or other long term conditions.
According to a report ‘Rethinking Cancer’, people living with and beyond cancer contribute approximately £6.9bn to the UK economy each year through paid employment.
Employers who have the right support in place keep people with valuable skills, knowledge and experience. Staff retention will reduce the pressure on colleagues who may otherwise have to train new recruits and manage additional workload during this transition. The CIPD estimate that the average cost of recruiting one employee is £4,333, with the average recruitment time varying between 6 – 16 weeks, depending on the level of recruitment, plus of course the training/settling in period.
Treating employees well is good for employee morale and can foster greater staff loyalty. Employers who are seen to support staff are also more likely to become attractive to customers, other businesses and job seekers.
What can business do?
Feedback from our work with business confirms over 70% of companies who have made workplace adjustments, such as flexible working hours, specialist computer software and moving desks to ground floor, consider them to be easy. Communication and flexibility are key foundations; from helping line managers understand how to handle the crucial initial conversations, developing communication plans and knowing the flexible working policies to ensuring HR know the legal obligations.
We understand the pressure on line managers around supporting employees, and it is important that they are offering the right level of support, however they are often delivering this with little or no training in this area – therefore it is important to ensure managers feel equipped and confident in support employees with long term conditions.
By taking a proactive approach to developing and implementing policy, training and support programmes which recognise the needs of employees with long term conditions, businesses will be better prepared for the future.
Role of the voluntary sector
You do not need to be experts, organisations like Macmillan Cancer Support have programmes in place to support companies like yours. Over 3,500 businesses have signed up to our Macmillan at Work programme. The programme has been designed to deliver proven solutions to meet the needs of staff and customers affected by cancer – and much of our advice is relevant to other long term conditions too.
As a whole the third sector has the expertise and understanding to help businesses develop impactful health and wellbeing programmes which support staff ensuring the best support and care is provided when required.
Please join me in exploring this subject matter further when I join a panel of experts from Business and Government on Thursday 21st April, 2-4pm at the CBI Great Business debate — Happy and healthy workforce, healthy business or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information about Macmillan at Work.