cancer in the workplace

How to support someone with cancer in the workplace

As a small business employer, when your co-worker or employee is diagnosed with cancer, it is important to know what needs to be done to help the person smoothly get through this tough situation. Here we have put together a hands-on guide on what to act, say and do to make the workplace environment encouraging as well as make someone with cancer in the workplace feel peace of mind as much as possible. 

dealing with cancer in the workplace

Be mindful of what to say 

Allow your co-worker to lead conversations as well as the level of extent the person can expose about their cancer. Some colleagues would like to be left alone whereas others need to speak out their mind. Think of this on behalf of them to remove the pressure off them. For instance, you can make or arrange a meal for them, or do their tasks for them if they feel too overwhelmed and exhausted.   

As an employer, you play a lead role to support this staff member for the cancer treatment and you are in a position to make positive impact on the person.  

Be consistent with your caring attitude 

There will be good days and bad days for someone with cancer in the workplace both physically and mentally. Stay on the course of showing your concern and kindness for them will really help them feel rest assured and smoothly get through this medical challenge. This includes making work-related discussions sound ordinary as much as possible, while making your employee feel they are part of the team and treated the same as people without the disease.     

managing cancer in the workplace

Be open with expectations on both sides 

Another important step you can take is to keep having conversations with them by urging your affected employee to share what they need from you, be it the flexibility of working arrangement, return-to-work arrangements or changes to their daily work responsibilities. Simply put, having an open and honest chat about mutual expectations for both of you and what is doable and not achievable at this particular moment will pave a clear path for any new agendas for both sides.  


Make sure you share with the affected employee all the cancer support choices your company offers, including their benefits and ways they can be approached through their immediate line manager or Human Resources department. It is also very important to offer your employees with best practice tips and interactive meetings to keep them up-to-date with how to best react with their colleagues and to demystify every important aspect about cancer in the workplace.