October is recognized worldwide as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With everyone decked out in rose-colored shirts and pink ribbon symbols in honor of Pink October, there’s no better time to start up a breast cancer education program in the workplace.
The modern woman has a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer sometime in her life, compared to a 1 in 10 lifetime risk during the 1970s. This means it’s more important than ever for employees to understand this pervasive disease and to know the procedures for early detection. Unfortunately, many employee education programs fail to find their way through to workers amid busy work schedules and hectic lunch breaks. For companies looking to create an engaging breast cancer education program that employees truly take to heart, these essential tips can be lifesavers.
1. Embracing the planning stages
As early as August, staff members on all levels of management should meet to plan education initiatives, set a budget for Pink October and brainstorm ideas for unique breast cancer awareness events.
For example, the company might have a “pay to dress down day.” Supervisors simply gather the established fee from their comfortably dressed employees and donate it to breast cancer research. Potential charities for consideration are Susan G. Komen®, Bright Pink®, iGoPink and Breast Cancer Charities of America.
During these planning stages, companies need to keep their male employees in mind. After all, breast cancer education is applicable to all genders. Men can encourage the women in their lives to get regular screenings, and they also have a small risk of contracting breast cancer themselves.
2. Making breast cancer education a workplace-wide initiative
Confining a breast cancer awareness program to a meeting room is a sure way to let life-saving information slip through the cracks once October comes to an end. Instead, posters and piles of flyers should occupy common areas such as break rooms and hallways. A company-wide email or newsletter is another great way to remind employees of the month’s important theme.
Another option is to hold giveaways to promote breast cancer awareness. For example, companies can give breast cancer awareness products such as pink ball point pens or staplers to every employee who wears pink or sports a pink ribbon pin on a certain day. Look for products where proceeds go to breast cancer research and awareness — a worthy investment of the company’s spare change.
3. Setting up an educational meeting no one wants to miss
At the heart of a successful educational meeting is smart scheduling. Companies should choose a time when employees are least likely to skip out and are most alert, such as a Tuesday morning. They might provide coffee and snacks for some extra incentive; cupcakes with pink frosting provide a nice tie-in to the theme of the discussion.
The company gathering should begin with some informative statistics to grab employees’ attention, and it may include information about mammography screenings. The discussion should end with information about how employees may join the fight against breast cancer through donations, local fundraisers and company initiatives. Speakers should mention whether the company’s health insurance policy covers preventative services, and may provide each employee with a flyer or brochure listing key takeaways. Download the free breast cancer awareness flyer to distribute during your meeting.
Employees are most likely to listen to someone with authority on the subject of breast cancer, so the meeting organizer should ask a health care professional or health educator to speak briefly at the meeting, if possible.
4. Taking out the end date
To create an education program with real impact, breast cancer awareness initiatives shouldn’t end when Pink October does. Companies should keep at it throughout the year with email reminders and company newsletters. According to the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, employees are more likely to use screening services when they receive constant communication.
It’s never too early to start planning an employee breast cancer education program in honor of Pink October. Organizers may print out the helpful free breast cancer awareness flyer to give members of management staff some guidance, and they can even change the wording of the printout to fit the company’s details. Any small detail that could positively impact one more people is worth the effort.