Almost half (47%) of small business managers say they have not received any training in how to support employees living with and receiving treatment for cancer.
A poll for employee benefits and health insurance provider Unum by Censuswide in May also found that nearly a third (30%) felt they were not knowledgeable about what support their business provided to employees with cancer.
Half (55%) of the more than 500 managers polled agreed they should have given more support to their employees with cancer.
A tenth (11%) said they had to resort to sourcing training themselves to support employees living and working with cancer rather than their company providing it. Just a fifth (21%) said their business offered access to specialist cancer support.
And nearly two-thirds (60%) of the managers polled agreed they have found or would find it hard to talk to employees about their cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The top three areas managers said they didn’t know enough about to support employees with cancer were:
- how to make reasonable adjustments to support employee wellbeing;
- how to ensure effective communication with employees with cancer; and
- what the business’ legal responsibilities were towards the employee.
The research also found the three biggest challenges managers face when managing and supporting employees with cancer were:
- understanding and supporting the mental health impact on the employee;
- lack of knowledge about cancer and its treatment or impact; and
- working out resources and services to signpost the employee to for support.
Cancer and work
These findings chime with a poll of more than 1,000 adults carried out for Unum in April that suggested 70% of employees with cancer felt they could have returned to work sooner with greater support from their employer.
Glenn Thompson, chief distribution officer at Unum UK, said: “Clearly, there’s room to do more to assist managers who are supporting employees with cancer.
“There’s a direct link between 70% of employees who said they could have returned to work sooner after cancer with greater support from their employer and the lack of return-to-work support, such as access to cancer specialists, mental health and rehabilitation professionals,” he added.