Decembeard – Never judge a beard by its cover.

Louise Smith, Business Manager, W2W.

A beard is a beard – You notice a man with a beard.  Are all beards the same?  When you start to notice a beard more closely you start to realise that every beard is different. They come in all colours, shapes, thickness, styles.  Some have patches, some may be curly, they may be soft or coarse.  Once you notice you see there are subtle differences.


As December approaches you may well see an increasing number of men growing beards.  They aren’t trying to give their best Santa Claus impression on Christmas Day, rather they may well be growing their beard for Decembeard.  Moving on from the phenomena of Movember which aims to highlight Men’s Health, Decembeards purpose is to both raise money for Bowel Cancer charities but also to raise awareness of bowel cancer, particularly amongst men.


Bowel Cancer is the second largest cancer killer in the UK but it is most often treatable and curable particularly if it is diagnosed early so being aware of changes to your bowel habits and seeking medical advice is crucial.


Although more older people get bowel cancer, there is a significant amount of people who are diagnosed with bowel cancer during their working life. How managers and HR professionals support employees when diagnosed, during treatment and after treatment is crucial.


Part of our work at Working To Wellbeing is running training for line managers and HR professionals on how to talk to employees who have had a cancer diagnosis.  One of the elements in our training is about parking assumptions about what someone with a cancer diagnosis needs or is thinking, to enable managers to really listen and pay attention to their employee’s individual needs.


As a manager, you may know someone who has had bowel cancer who came back to work a few months after an operation without any problems.  Then one of your employees has bowel cancer and it is easy to make the assumption that their experience will be the same or similar to your friends.  You may assume that their treatment is the same or that they will react in the same way to the person you know.  You may even say something like “My best friend John had bowel cancer and he was back to work in 3 months. You will be fine”.


How might that make your employee feel?  What if they don’t get back to work after 3 months. Will they feel in some way that you have judged them as failing? Will that make returning to work harder for them?


Remember like the analogy above – no two beards are the same!


If you want to hear more about our approach and the work that we do to help people to recover their function after a diagnosis of a long term condition, then please get in touch at


Working To Wellbeing (W2W) provides consultancy and intervention for health and wellbeing at work.  We provide wellbeing and rehabilitation services, supporting employees with physical health, mental health and long term conditions, the 3 key causes of presenteeism and absence. We join the dots between the physical and mental health issues that cause and perpetuate poor health.

Our specialist clinicians are highly trained to provide a truly integrated service that results in health behaviour change and optimum work capability.


Louise, Service Development Manager for Working To Wellbeing, has more than 30 years experience as a manager working in the NHS, Charities and private companies.