Your employee tells you they have cancer and you want to offer support and show that you care but organizations, just like people, don’t often know how to help so they do the worst thing ever, do nothing at all. Don’t be that organization. How you support an employee with cancer sends a clear message to your employees about how important they are. There are 100s of unique ways to show your support. To start, here is a list of five simple ways to say “We want to help because you matter.”
1. PAY FOR LYFT/UBER RIDES TO AND FROM TREATMENT.
Chemo and driving…not a great combination. Even if your employee with cancer has someone to accompany them to treatment, it’s a great gift for both of them. Traveling to and from doctors’ appointments and treatment can be exhausting.
2. FIND A PATIENT ADVOCATE OR PROFESSIONAL CARE MANAGER.
If your employee with cancer has a strong advocate at home, they may not need this but you won’t know until you offer. Keep in mind that there is no national accreditation or certification test for patient advocates so make sure your company asks for references and assesses an individual’s experience and history carefully. This is a GREAT and powerful gesture and well worth the energy to find the right person.
3. PAY FOR INSTACART, FRESHDIRET OR ANY GROCERY STORE DELIVERY SERVICE.
Doing “normal” things when you have cancer becomes hard. Give the gift of grocery delivery!
4. GIVE CASH.
Medical bankruptcy is real and embarrassing. Many companies are setting up their own 501c3 to help employees through financial emergencies. If your company doesn’t have one, consider donating using something like GoFundMe. Check with your organization's rules before you give cash. You can also check with your CFO and accounting to find other unique ways to financially support your employee.
5. SET UP A MESSAGE BOARD
Having cancer is isolating, especially if it takes your employee out of the office for long periods of time. Setting up a place where co-workers can send messages of hope and good clean jokes is an easy way to keep your employee with cancer connected to their social network at work. One study showed the greatest benefit an employee in crisis receives is the support from their social network at work!
Why bother doing all of this? The more connected your employee feels to your organization the more likely they are to return to work and to bring their A-game. Depending on how public the support is, it could help increase your retention. Everyone wants to work for a company that cares for its employees.
Your company provides your employee with a purpose. Like many of us, their job probably makes them feel like they matter. Them having cancer is an opportunity to remind them that they matter to you.