Vocational rehabilitation and cancer support services have proven to be highly effective in aiding the return to work for employees with long-term health issues, according to research from Working To Wellbeing.
This research highlights the significance of these rehabilitation services as a valuable retention tool, with 49 per cent of employees expressing their willingness to stay with employers offering such support for health conditions.
Furthermore, the study revealed that an overwhelming 78 per cent of line managers agree that personalised and timely vocational rehabilitation interventions lead to better work and health outcomes for employees dealing with cancer.
This research coincides with World Cancer Day on 4th February and underscores the importance of rehabilitation to enhance physical, social, and work-related skills following a prolonged illness like cancer.
Macmillan estimates that there are currently 890,000 working-age individuals living with cancer in the UK. As the number of cancer survivors in the workforce is expected to rise, employers will increasingly be called upon to provide support to those returning to work post-treatment.
The research also sought feedback from employees who have experienced cancer or are currently undergoing treatment. It found that the majority were dissatisfied with the existing services, with older workers being particularly affected. The findings include:
- Only 43% were satisfied with phased return-to-work programs, dropping to 32% among those aged 55+
- Just 40% were content with a personalised return-to-work program, with only 25% among those aged 55+
- Less than 1 in 3 (29%) were satisfied with physical workplace modifications, which plummeted to 11% among those aged over 55
- Over a third (36%) were content with mental health and wellbeing support, but this fell to 25% among those aged 55+
- 42% were content with flexible working arrangements, compared to 28% among those aged 55+
- Over a third (36%) were satisfied with the reasonable adjustments made to their job to manage their health
Dr. Julie Denning, managing director and chartered health psychologist at Working To Wellbeing, as well as Chair of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association, emphasised the importance of this issue, stating, “Employers must understand how to prepare for both a phased and personalised return-to-work program to accommodate the needs of their employees. Ignoring the importance of vocational rehabilitation not only risks impacting productivity, retention, morale, and costs but also legal obligations.”
Working To Wellbeing offers a cancer support service that focuses on addressing the physical, cognitive, psychological, and emotional aspects of illness. This service provides health coaching support with a vocational focus to help individuals regain their daily functioning and quality of life, facilitating their return to work when ready.
Additionally, Working To Wellbeing supports line managers in implementing return-to-work plans and making reasonable adjustments for their employees. The service reports that more than three in four people in its Cancer Work Support Service have successfully sustained or returned to work, highlighting the effectiveness of such support.