More than a quarter of UK workers diagnosed with cancer felt let down by their employer, with 28 per cent of employees saying they either received no support whatsoever of the support they did receive fell below their expectations, according to new research.
The research, amongst 300 UK workers diagnosed with cancer in the last five years, found 84 per cent felt their loyalty towards employers had been influenced by the amount of support they received.
In research, three out of four workers surveyed worried about the cost of cancer and how their families would cope with loss of income if they had to give up work.
More than a third – 40 per cent – of workers surveyed were unfamiliar with the resources their employer provided for cancer sufferers before they were diagnosed, while 52 per cent thought they may have been able to return to work sooner had they received better support from their employers.
Almost a third of workers – 32 per cent – described their overall sentiment towards work as providing a sense of normalcy, while 28 per cent said it took their mind off their diagnosis and 22 per cent valued the social connectedness that work provided.
In suggesting the most valuable ways employers can help their employees through cancer, 42 per cent of respondents said offering reduced or flexible hours, 29 per cent appreciated the offer to work from home, and 27 per cent felt access to counselling or emotional support was, or would be, a valuable resource. More than half – 52 per cent – of respondents thought insurance cover, either to help with loss of income from inability to work or to provide a lump sum financial benefit to help with the cost of cancer, would be beneficial.
Unum HR director Liz Walker says: “Employees diagnosed with cancer can quickly find their world changed beyond recognition. During this highly stressful and often confusing time, work can provide an oasis of normality and routine. However, our research shows the experiences of those who choose to work through a cancer diagnosis can vary widely, and a supportive employer can make all the difference.
“Creating employee resource groups for cancer survivors for emotional support, introducing flexible hours and remote working options, or providing practical insurance cover and return-to-work support can go a long way in aiding employees in their recovery, while signalling that you care.”
The research comes as Unum unveils enhancements to its critical illness product with a focus on cancer support and family cover, which includes the introduction of a cancer pathway for employers and employees and additional cover for children.
As part of the enhancements, critical illness policyholders can now access Unum’s new cancer pathway at no additional cost. The cancer pathway provides access for employers and employees to cancer support upon diagnosis, through treatment and after treatment. Resources include a second opinion service and fast-tracked access to cancer experts.
Unum’s enhanced critical illness product now provides cover for 7 children-specific illnesses as standard, including cerebral palsy and spina bifada. Children are also automatically covered for 25 per cent of a member’s cover, up to £25,000, for all covered conditions. Employees can choose to add their spouse or partner to a policy at an additional cost for complete family cover.
Unum director of customer solutions Glenn Thompson says: “Valuable insurance cover and a range of meaningful resources experience can make a significant difference in an employee’s experience at work, especially during a cancer journey.”