Winston Benefits recently hosted a webinar with its partner Wamberg Genomic Advisors in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Together we laid a foundation for the latest genomic cancer screening services and support services and for what this means to both employees and employers. Our goal was to bring awareness to genomic concierge services, which can be life-changing for an employee and their family members. Most core H&W plans have gaps, and that is certainly true as it relates to broad hereditary screening, the availability of advanced genomic analysis and personalized, objective guidance and support after a cancer diagnosis has occurred.
Before this type of innovative genomic solution can make an impact, there must be an engagement strategy that includes awareness, education and promotion of the impact that these new benefits can deliver. Here at Winston, we have over 30 years of experience in the art of integrating core and voluntary benefit enrollment solutions for employers and brokers to maximize the value to their employees.
We sat down with Chief Innovation Officer Darren Rowe to take a deeper dive into the impact cancer is having in and out of the workplace and what employers can do in order to more effectively support their employees.
How can employers help support awareness of diseases such as breast cancer in the workplace? Why is having a Breast Cancer Awareness Month important for these kinds of efforts?
Cancer impacts every aspect of people’s lives, and providing the right support and nurturing the right environment are important aspects of an effective cancer strategy. Create and publish a cancer strategy to encourage employees to talk about health-related issues. Reassure employees that you will support them should they be diagnosed with cancer. Introduce innovative time-off programs allowing employees to donate PTO to colleagues with cancer. Ensure line managers are aware of their responsibilities and provide training to help them manage colleagues with a cancer diagnosis. Be flexible with accommodations requests — for many cancer patients, the ability to continue working is an important part of their coping strategy.
Cancer awareness months and events of this nature help employees be mindful of the importance of regular self-checks and general health maintenance. They promote trust, openness and transparency and are a good way to show employees their company cares about them.
What benefits can employers offer to encourage prevention and early screening for diseases such as breast cancer?
Cancer strategies are most effective when integrated across a vibrant and positive culture. Be creative in developing ways to encourage healthy behaviors. Provide employees with pedometers, for example, and reward them for using stairs or making healthy choices. Be considerate of workloads and respect the importance of family and leisure time. Ensure access to screening programs is affordable and convenient for employees. Provide access to health literacy services to help improve self-advocacy and personal accountability. Make health management part of the culture, not an isolated intervention.
How can Wamberg's genomic programs and services help employees manage their health when it comes to diseases such as breast cancer?
Health literacy and personal accountability drive better health management and ultimately reduce costs. WGA’s Cancer Guardian program provides all the relevant resources and expertise to help employees understand and manage their risk of breast cancer and supports them through the cancer continuum should they be diagnosed with cancer. The program is designed to reduce the clinical, financial, practical and emotional burden that cancer presents.