When an employee has cancer, other employees are affected. Co-workers may be asked to change their schedule or duties. Many will be concerned about their co-worker’s wellbeing and uncertain how to respond. It’s natural for people to be concerned for the co-worker with cancer and want to ask how treatment is going. Let your employees know that the person who is being treated may or may not want to share. Co-workers can avoid putting an ill co-worker on the spot by saying things like, “I hope things are going well for you” rather than “How is your treatment going?”
If an employee with cancer changes from full-time to part-time, others in the department or on the work team may have to pick up additional tasks or change their schedule.
This situation can be more difficult if the employee with cancer has chosen to keep his or her diagnosis private.
Managers can support the team in several ways:
- Consider hiring an additional part-time worker or temporary employee to take some pressure off.
- Look into team-building training to encourage cooperation.
- Present your employee’s schedule change as an opportunity for coworkers to step in and learn new skills.
- Consider bringing in other resources like HR, an Employee Assistance Program, Health & Wellness Programs, and/or a social worker from a cancer support organization like CancerCare to help address co-workers’ concerns.
It’s important that people undergoing treatment for cancer avoid exposure to other illnesses like colds, chicken pox etc. Make sure your workforce understands this. And, remind them to:
- Wash their hands regularly with soap and water, or use a hand sanitizer.
- Stay at home when ill, so they don’t spread it to other people.
- Cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing and coughing, then throw it in a bin and wash their hands.
- Try not to touch their eyes, nose or mouth, as this can spread germs.
- Make sure shared cups, glasses, dishes and cutlery are clean before you use them. Keep their workstation clean and clear of food debris.