labor day

Many Americans identify Labor Day as the first Monday in September, an extra day off, and the cutoff for when you have to stop wearing white; however, Labor Day is an important holiday that is dedicated to the 158.5 million hard working men and women that form the labor force in the United States (US Census Bureau).  This Monday, reflect on the history of the holiday that celebrates employees all over the nation and show your employees that you appreciate all that they do for your company.

A Brief History of Labor Day

Although we now celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of September, the first Labor Day was celebrated in New York on September 5, 1882 (which was actually a Tuesday).  Labor Day originated from the Central Labor Union’s desire to celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday”.  The idea quickly spread and was soon celebrated by other labor organizations across the US.  What started as a day to celebrate hardworking union members quickly became a day to celebrate all Americans who had social and economic achievements that contributed to the strength of our country.  Labor Day became recognized as a national holiday in 1894, and has since been a day to celebrate members of the workforce all over the nation.

Labor Day Celebrations

The first proposal of this “workingmen’s holiday” not only included taking the day off of work, but it also included a parade to show “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations”, followed by entertainment for workers and their families.  Similar to the first Labor Day, cities around the United States still hold parades and events to be enjoyed by workers and their families; however, the history behind the three day weekend often gets forgotten among Labor Day sales at the mall, barbeques, and making plans for one of the last warm weekends of the year.

Make Labor Day More Than a Day off

As an employer, one of your biggest investments is your employees.  You dedicate time and money into making sure that they are successful, and in turn they work hard to ensure that your company reaches its goals.  Labor Day serves as an annual reminder that you should recognize your employees’ hard work and accomplishments.  Using this day as an opportunity to celebrate your employees will help raise morale in the workplace and remind your employees of why they have Monday off.  The following are a few ways that you can show your employees that you appreciate them in addition to their day off.

  • Host a party:  Use the Friday before Labor Day to show your employees that you appreciate them by hosting a barbeque or catered lunch.  A fun way to recognize individual employees at the party is to hand out awards like “Most Punctual” and “The Office Go Getter”.  These awards are sure to get a laugh and the recipients will appreciate that their work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
  • Express your appreciation in writing:  A handwritten note expressing your gratitude for a job well done can go a long way to boost morale among your employees.  Simply taking the time to express your appreciation in a note tells your employees that you value them as a member of your company.
  • Flexibility with schedules:  If you have employees who have expressed that they have plans for the weekend, letting them go a couple of hours early on Friday shows them that you understand how hard they work and that you want them to enjoy the weekend. Keep in mind that if they are hourly, it’s a nice gesture to let them make up any hours that they miss.

As we prepare to celebrate Labor Day this Monday, make sure that you are one of the employers that remembers the true meaning behind the three day weekend and thanks their employees for all of their hard work.