When done well, workplace health programs help ensure your employees are well.
Statistics show 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. The likelihood that someone in your workplace has or will have cancer, or is a survivor, is high. People also spend one-third or more of their day, five days a week, in the workplace. Creating policies that can help your co-workers prevent cancer, find it early, and feel supported if undergoing treatment make good business sense. It also shows you care.
Do you have a company success story when it comes to cancer prevention, policy, or employee support? We’d love to hear more and share it with others. Tell us about it.
Review company leave policies and comply with employment law
In addition to policies that promote prevention-focused behaviors, your company policies can also impact whether employees take time to get screened for cancers, to heal themselves during or after cancer treatments, or care for family undergoing cancer treatment. Here are a few resources to get started:
- Research shows that employers who offer a cancer screening policy, with paid time off for early detection appointments, will experience a healthier and more productive workforce. You enjoy spending less on direct medical costs, workers’ compensation/disability costs, replacement costs for ill or injured workers, and costs for recruiting and training new workers, too.
- Review your paid time off and leave policies, including flexible scheduling and other accommodations. And, be sure to comply with employment law including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). American Cancer Society provides tips here.
Consider health plan selection and benefits
Not all health plans are created equal. Does your health plan offer coverages for cancer-related support and services at a price that’s affordable?
- The National Comprehensive Cancer Network Employer Toolkit helps organizations make the best decisions possible when it comes to cancer care for their employees.
Strive to understand the needs and concerns of cancer survivors and caregivers
People who have been diagnosed with cancer or their caregivers can suffer from multiple ways, including economically from job loss. Concerns expressed include loss of income, lack of financial support, costs of treatment, insurance coverage, and finding and keeping a job. These challenges disproportionately affect women, Hispanics/Latinos, young adults, people with metastatic cancer, and those who have lower income. Advocates say a paid leave policy would help these survivors and caregivers.
Focus on prevention with a healthy environment
Your company may have tools in place to prevent injury, but do you have tools to prevent cancer? There are several simple ways to incorporate cancer prevention in your workplace, some of which may also help to reduce the impact of other chronic diseases among your employees.
Skin cancer is the most diagnosed cancer, including squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas and the more deadly melanoma. Most skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to UV rays.
- If your employees work outdoors, suggest sun-protective clothing and hats or purchase uniforms with sun-protective qualities such as long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats. Provide sunscreen as well.
- Outdoor lunch areas give needed respite from one’s workstation but can create intense sun exposure in just one hour. Provide shade with a fabric shade sail, umbrella, or shade tree and offer sunscreen for employees lunching or taking breaks outdoors.
- Learn more and get support from our Sun Smart Nevada program.
Tobacco & Vaping
Smoking is the leading cause of cancer, and employees should be encouraged to quit. Secondhand smoke exposure by employees who don’t smoke can also cause cancer. And recent studies show vaping triggers others' tobacco use and releases carcinogenic chemicals into the air.
- Read up on how smoking and tobacco use impacts business in this article from the U.S. Surgeon General.
- If smoking is legally permitted in your workplace, work with company leadership to implement a smoke- and vape-free policy. If it’s not permitted indoors, expand the perimeter by enacting a policy to prohibit smoking and vaping on company property, worksites, or in company vehicles or events.
- Learn more about the negative effects of vaping in the workplace and implement a vape-free policy.
- Offer cessation support to employees who smoke or vape by posting information for the Nevada Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) in break rooms or on the company intranet. Connect with your local health department or hospital to coordinate a quit support group or workshop, or train a team member to lead Freedom From Smoking sessions.
- Get answers to your smoke-free workplace policy questions with support from Truth Initiative and this Tip Sheet.
Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that comes from the ground and can collect in buildings, potentially leading to lung cancer.
- Test your building for radon to ensure levels are within approved guidelines. More information and testing details are available from the Nevada Radon Education Program.
- Encourage employees to test their homes for radon.
Workplace weight loss challenges can be hard to organize and sustain, but simple environmental changes can support employees long-term.
- Offering standing desks, walking meetings, or activity trackers with incentives for reaching movement goals.
- Swap out high-sugar or low-nutrition snacks in vending machines and breakrooms for healthier options, such as flavored waters, nuts, or fruits. Center company events and festivities around activities rather than food and drinks.
Stress, depression, and anxiety can all shift an employee’s focus, reducing work productivity and causing a variety of physical health issues.
- Share with your employees information on mental health and stress reduction services that are free or covered by their health benefits.
- Offer stress management workshops, access to meditation apps, or create an area within your workplace where employees can de-stress during breaks.