Macmillan works to enable colleague voice and a supportive and empowering culture that improves health and wellbeing.

The team does whatever it takes to help millions of people with cancer to live life as fully as they can each year. As the UK’s leading cancer support charity, Macmillan believes that everyone should get the personalised care that’s right for them. The charity supports people directly through the Macmillan Support Line and funds a range of professionalslike nurses and therapistsin the NHS and other healthcare partners. Macmillan also influences decision-makers to effect change at a system-wide level. 


Enabling colleague voice and co-creation 

Enabling colleagues to use their voices and co-create continues to grow as a focus, and the organisation is investing in creating psychologically safe spaces for colleagues to access support and share their experiences: 

  • Our Voice is Macmillan’s colleague representation forum. Representatives sit in each part of the organisation and are there to support colleagues and advocate on their behalf. 

  • Macmillan’s eight colleague networks and additional support groups foster a sense of community, support and belonging for members. They help the organisation to challenge inequities and drive inclusion, while also supporting personal and professional growth. 

Macmillan’s dedicated Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Our Voice teams ensure colleague representatives and network chairs have the support and guidance they need and link them up with external expertise to ensure they can learn and grow in their roles. Macmillan’s colleague networks are well subscribed, and in addition to providing a space where people can access peer support in a psychologically safe environment, they are becoming much more collaborative and influential bodies in the organisation. They are starting to play a critical function in identifying the needs of colleagues and ensuring these are catered to.  

Sam Cooper, Macmillan’s Health and Wellbeing Manager, gives an example of the benefits of gathering colleague input to make decisions: We have great engagement with our health providers, but feedback from our colleague networks told us that people didn’t feel their experiences were represented in the health services they could access. We worked with our health providers, such as our employee assistance programme, to develop new mechanisms so that colleagues can access support from people with similar lived experience to them. Thanks to meaningful collaboration with our colleagues, we now have a more equitable service in place. 

Continuous review and improvement 

Macmillan continually reviews and improves its capability to support and create a healthy environment for colleagues to thrive. For example, in the last 12 months they have developed: 

  • A menopause policy Following feedback from colleagues, the organisation has made menstrual and menopausal health a priority area. With significant contributions from the Gender Equality Network, additional support is now accessible through the establishment of a menopause support group and dedicated menopause buddies. The policy includes awareness-raising, identifying symptoms, information on support and workplace requirements, as well as practical recommendations for workplace requirements and adjusted absence procedures. Macmillan has also worked with its health providers to improve the support available in this area, such as a cognitive behavioural therapy module dedicated to the menopause.  

  • A fast-track requirements processFeedback from colleagues around the importance of having the information, support and adjustments they need to thrive at Macmillan has led to the organisation developing a fast-track process for people to access workplace requirements, alongside a dedicated, comprehensive wellbeing toolkit. The process was simplified to align each core support function and bring together a wealth of information in one place. This has improved processes underpinning a range of support from accessing ergonomic equipment and accessibility technology, through to neurodiversity support, and guidance for wellbeing conversations.  

  • A neurodiversity support pathway – As part of its work to fast-track workplace requirements pathways, gaps in support for neurodiverse colleagues were identified. Through collaboration between the Neurodivergent Network and core support functions, and support from Macmillan’s private medical insurer and occupational health provider, colleagues can now access assessments for a range of neurodevelopmental conditions, as well as further support including dedicated support groups.   

  • A support programme for line managers – Recognising the pivotal role that managers play in colleague experience and wellbeing, Macmillan set up a cross-organisational taskforce to design a dedicated programme with support and resources, including guides, self-assessment tools, objectives, direct report feedback, action planning and peer support. People managers and colleagues collaborated to define what good people management looks like and co-created a range of manager commitments that move beyond traditional performance management measures.  

Sam reflects on the health and wellbeing aspect of the new programme for managers: People managers play a pivotal role in colleague health and wellbeing and can feel overwhelmed with such a significant responsibility. Exploring how colleagues, people managers and organisations share responsibility for health and wellbeingcoming together to consider the change that is needed, and how to support each other to make improvements and address any gapsis far more effective than mandating a programme for people managers to deliver against and expecting a huge shift in capability overnight.  

Moving forward 

Macmillan is continually building on work to support colleague health and wellbeing, to create a supportive and empowering culture that will further improve its ability to provide vital support for people with cancer. Some key focuses for the next year include: 

  • An evidence-based approach to health and wellbeing – Macmillan has implemented a new colleague experience dashboard, which encompasses health and wellbeing and other people-oriented data. The plan is to use this data to make more informed decisions on colleague health and wellbeing, ensuring the right support is in place.  

  • Navigation and accessibility around health and wellbeing support – Finding new ways to help colleagues navigate the wide range of information and resources available to access what they need with ease. This includes refining and embedding resources such as the wellbeing toolkit, finding new ways to engage colleagues with the significant support available, and continuing to enable people managers to support their line reports in prioritising their health and wellbeing.  

  • Quality assurance for workplace health and wellbeing practicesExploring best practice in how the organisation approaches health and wellbeing, including how to ensure the right accountability, as well as implement and measure progress against defined standards, guidelines and recommendations.  

Sam is passionate about Macmillan’s health and wellbeing journey: At Macmillan we feel a strong sense of responsibility to get colleague health and wellbeing right, all to help ensure that we have a happy and healthy workforce that is as well placed as possible to help us do whatever it takes for people with cancer. This means setting ourselves high standards and also sharing what we’re doing to help other organisations learn alongside us. 


Sam Cooper, Health and Wellbeing Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support

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