through policy and flexible work scheduling. Large regional and
national consulting firms often provide annual updates on leg-islated
leaves offered by the federal and provincial governments,
including CPP and EI programs.
In reviewing or formulating HR policy, programs and practices,
employers should consider the financial, operational and cultural
impacts of cancer and other relevant chronic diseases. Many can-cers
have lifestyle risk factors so prevention should be highlighted
in the organization’s health policy. Occupational hazards in the
work environment should be appropriately minimized or elimi-nated,
at least in compliance with all laws and regulations. Ensure
that personal protective equipment is functional and readily avail-able
and that employees are properly trained.
Many of these approaches necessarily involve working more
comprehensively with vendors and partners. Establishing clear
objectives and roles for vendors, the employer and any union in-volved
will help to minimize disruption and optimize outcomes.
Employers should consider developing a policy on service provid-er
In order to be able to assess the success of cancer supports within
an employer’s chronic disease strategy, a measurement framework
should be developed. Baseline data could include collecting, link-ing
and tracking the direct and indirect costs and organizational
burden of cancer and other chronic diseases, and assessing the
broader impact of these conditions on key human resource and
company performance metrics.
While not something that Canadian employers and govern-ments
typically consider, improving cancer management in the
workplace will also provide broader societal and community-lev-el
benefits. Employers through their insurers, advisors and other
vendors may consider estimating the impact of workplace cancer
management initiatives on the use of hospital, medical, communi-ty
care and other public health system services.
Recent research indicates the human and financial costs of can-cer
and, in fact, all chronic diseases can be better linked in the
workplace, given generally similar lifestyle behaviours, culture and
management practices. By reviewing and perhaps updating health
and disability benefit plans, health-related policies including care-giving
and measurement tools, HR professionals can ensure more
effective policy, programs and practices.
The report’s “call to action” has three goals:
1. Workplace stakeholders will adopt a more comprehensive
and strategic approach to health that recognizes cancer
prevention and management, including access to drug and
2. National workplace standards for cancer care will be
developed and broadly adopted by employers and health
system stakeholders; and
3. A pilot program will be developed to demonstrate the value
of integrating workplace policies and programs with health
In the near term, an immediate opportunity is to orga-nize
and improve workplace resources to better serve survivors
As the incidence of several cancer types continues to climb, the
cost and disruption to workplaces will only increase. Considerable
research now guides a much more rigorous and effective approach,
which in turn ensures better processes and outcomes for patients
and employers. n
Chris Bonnett established H3 Consulting in 1999 to help private
payers and governments improve health in the workplace and to
research and communicate progressive drug insurance policy.
Allan Smofsky is the managing director of Smofsky Strategic
Planning, advising stakeholders across the spectrum of organization
health on measurably improving health, engagement and
Here are five areas with the greatest opportunity:
Health benefits: Ensure they’re adequate, clearly
communicated, supported and linked to other services.
Disability: Expect most cancer patients can return to
work, so protocols need to accommodate the physical
and emotional needs of survivors.
Caregivers: This is a very important and stressful role;
consider this in organizational health policy and ensure
caregivers know about company and government
Policy: Cancer should be included in illness and
injury prevention efforts that include OH&S and clear,
coordinated goals for service vendors.
Measurement: Integration with chronic disease
management strategy makes it easier to track efforts,
costs and impacts on HR and organizational metrics.
28 ❚ SEPTEMBER 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL