Responsible Business Week – business should look to the charity sector for support

Macmillan cancer support logoLiz Egan of Macmillan Cancer Support explains how Responsible Business Week is a great time to highlight the importance of supporting employess during cancer treatment and how charities can help businesses with the best ways to do this.

A recent BITC survey highlighted that how businesses treat their staff and customers ranked highest by the public, as demonstrating that a business is responsible. I believe the charity sector has a lot to offer to help businesses achieve  this, particularly when it comes to health and wellbeing.

Why should business care  or prioritise health and wellbeing? By 2030, 40% of the population is expected to be living with a chronic illness and businesses will need to adapt to meet the needs of staff and customers if they want to be seen as responsible, caring and understanding organisations.

Just looking at cancer figures alone, there are currently over 750,000 people of working age living with cancer and this is set to increase. Plus there are over 500,000 workers who care for loved ones affected by cancer and it is most likely that some of these people are part of your employee base. 

A responsible business supports their employees

Macmillan Cancer Support successfully works with companies and organisations to deliver proven solutions to meet the needs of staff and customers affected by cancer. Other charities like Mind and The Alzheimer’s Society also have fantastic programmes and the charity sector as a whole has the expertise and understanding to meet the needs of staff and customers and wants to work with you to ensure that, when required, the best support and care possible is given. 

It also makes business sense to support staff with health and wellbeing needs. Our research shows 82% of people want to return to work after cancer treatment but 47% have had to give it up or change roles as a result of a cancer diagnosis, so getting support and advice early on is invaluable. Providing the right support and adjustments to help employees stay in or return to work if they wish costs less than recruiting and retraining new staff, and it costs the economy £5.3bn when people don’t return to work after cancer. 

Supporting individuals and their teams can also improve employee engagement and morale; Macmillan research supports the BITC survey's findings that treating employees well creates a positive image for an employer as one who will do the right thing. Furthermore, important for all business, having the right wellbeing and health procedures in place fulfils legal obligations.

Charities can work with business

Macmillan recognises the increasingly pivotal role employers can play to support employees, which is why it developed its Macmillan at Work programme to support employers (and employees). We also recognise the role business can play in helping respond to the needs of customers and  have worked with companies including Boots and npower to develop support roles and services which help people affected by cancer.

In Responsible Business Week 2015 I wanted to highlight the fact that the charity sector is not just looking to raise donations, but actually wants to work with you to help you look after your people.

Liz Egan is Work and Cancer Programme Lead with Macmillan Cancer Support.
To find out more about Macmillan and their Work and Cancer Programme, follow them on twitter @macmillancancer and @workandcancer or visit the website