Date of Award

Spring 5-29-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Honors Designation

na

Program of Study

Communication - Corporate Communication

Language

English

First Advisor

Minna Logemann

Second Advisor

Michael Goodman

Abstract

This project aims to identify American employee experiences and existing workplace policies and cultures surrounding illness, disability, and sick leave. This approach was taken in order to closely examine what looks to be working well for companies and workers, and what could benefit from a more human centric approach in regards to workplace policy and employee support programs. The study of employee experiences in particular represents a gap in the current scholarly literature regarding illness and illness policy in the American workplace, and more accurately represents the experiences for both employees and employers. Furthermore, it assists with distinguishing the types of policies and programs that are adequate and effective from those that are not. The ultimate goal is to help businesses survive in the current competitive economy, and to ensure favorable experiences for American employees through the implementation and enforcement of effective, human centric policies and programs.

The study results revealed several potential areas of improvement for American employers, including: 1. Implementation of a clear, consistent sick leave policy, distinct from other types of leave – or updating an existing policy to be more clear and consistent, if needed; 2. Implementation of health and wellness programs and employee assistance programs – or adding to and updating existing programs; 3. Improved internal communication with employees regarding the employer's health and wellness initiatives and benefits; and 4. Updating the company mission if it does not already contain a message of true acceptance of diversity – one that is inclusive of employees with chronic illnesses, disabilities, and conveys a regard for overall employee wellness.

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