If there was ever a holiday tailor-made for employee gratitude, it’s Labor Day. This national celebration of American workers isn’t just a three-day weekend to kick off the football season and have one last summer party before the school year begins in earnest.
It’s the perfect time to let your employees know how much you value them, their work and their contributions in the workplace.
It’s also a chance to hit pause and collectively take a day to appreciate where we are, how far we’ve come and what we can accomplish working together as we prepare for the busy season ahead — which always seems to move faster and faster into Thanksgiving and the winter holidays.
Labor Day has a history of employee gratitude and workforce celebration going back 132 years. Here are some quick facts, taken from the U.S. Department of Labor website and the Upworthy infographic “Do You Remember Why Labor Day Is Called Labor Day?”
- The holiday has origins in the Central Labor Union of New York City, 1882.
- An early proposal called for a street parade to exhibit “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families.
- The first Labor Day wasn’t on a Monday but on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City. Within a few years, it was being celebrated in industrial centers across the country as a “workingmen’s holiday” to be held always on the first Monday in September. This year, Labor Day is Sept. 1.
- In 1887 Oregon became the first state to give Labor Day governmental recognition as a holiday. In 1894 Congress made it a federal holiday.
- Until Labor Day was made a federal holiday, workers who joined in parades had to give up a day’s wages.
A day for big-picture appreciation
Labor Day became a holiday during a period of turmoil and momentous changes for American workers. Children as young as 5 were working long hours for little pay, and much of what we take for granted now as basic employee rights — such as the eight-hour workday, regular breaks, weekends off and basic safety precautions — were simply unheard of at the time.
Improvements for workers made in the years since have managed no less than to completely transform how we think about work, success, accountability and community.
Considering this historical context, Labor Day is an especially poignant time to reflect and share a big-picture appreciation of your coworkers and employees. Employee gratitude should be sewn into our everyday existence, of course, but once in a while it’s just as important to step back for a wider, long-range view of our gratitude.
Why does your employees’ work matter to you, to the people you serve and to the community at large? For which workplace improvement at your company in the past year are you most grateful?
“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” — Albert Einstein
Before everyone skips off for the holiday weekend, sit down and consider a few words of gratitude you can share with your coworkers and employees, either as a letter, a quick email or in a note to accompany a small gift. Encourage other leaders within the company to do the same: when employee gratitude comes from those in positions of leadership, it has a bigger impact and spreads more quickly.
For a step-by-step guide with practical tips to get you started on building a vibrant culture of appreciation, download our FREE e-book, “Workplace Gratitude.”
Click the image below and start sharing your workplace gratitude today!
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Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.
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