What Does Labor Day Mean to You?

August 29, 2014

What do enjoy doing on Labor Day? What does Labor Day mean to you?

Labor Day is so much a part of our culture that we rarely pause to consider its purpose and meaning. Labor Day is often more associated with fairs and a long weekend, than its original meaning – affirmation of the dignity and worth of workers.

Labor Day began in Canada in 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organised the first significant workers’ demonstration to support exploited workers. In the U.S., the first Labor Day, held in 1882, stemmed form the desire of the Central Labor Union to create a workers’ holiday. Labor days are celebrated annually at different times around the world, to celebrate workers and their contributions to the economies of their countries.

Many view Labor Day as a day of rest, the end of summer, a last chance to make trips or hold outdoor events.

How has the meaning and structure of work changed since the late 19 Century?

During our great grandparents’ era, scientific management, based on the belief that most workers were stupid, introduced authoritarian procedures to increase productivity. Money was their reward. Industrial capitalism and the corporate bureaucracy strengthened the idea that only top management had intelligence to make decisions. Unions organized to give workers a greater voice.

In the 1920s, management began questioning these beliefs. Elton Mayo’s research in the 30s demonstrated workers were more motivated by recognition and social interaction than by material rewards. Companies subsequently introduced various incentives to increase employee motivation and productivity.

Ongoing technological, economic, and social changes are forcing us to continue reassessment of views regarding job satisfaction, efficiency, and career growth.

Do your attitudes belong to the 2020s or the 1920s?

– Career development: New views suggest career growth is a lifelong process of personal growth which involves a continuing quest to maintain harmony between who you are and what you do. When your position no longer fits your evolving personality, you find a more compatible job.

Your career is also a vehicle for self expression that provides a sense of purpose, direction, and satisfaction. Who you are, not what you do, is important.

Old ideas perceive career development to mean moving up the prestige ladder. Your identity is tied to your job. But if who you are is what you do, what happens when you lose your job?

– Career management: Today, nothing is certain. Benevolent organizations can’t provide security for all employees.

People with new attitudes take charge of their own careers. Instead of looking for jobs, they’re creating their own work. To stay competitive, smart people continue to upgrade professional knowledge and skills, and strengthen Quester qualities such as purpose, mind power, resilience, and creativity. These adaptable skills are needed to succeed in changing times. “Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life” show how to develop these abilities.

Those with old attitudes leave their careers in the hand of employers or government agencies. Rather than prepare for their next move, they wait for the pink slip.

– Success: Rewards are judged by personal and job satisfaction. Success is the degree to which work and lifestyle satisfy the mind, body, emotion, and soul. Status means having innovative ideas. Authenticity is important.

People with old views value money for the good things, security, and social standing.

– Human capital investment. Organizations that value employees make employee learning and involvement key business strategies. They know employee involvement and knowledge equal profit. Learning organizations create work settings that respect employees, nurture inquisitiveness and playfulness, allow privacy, and avoid criticism and stress. Some companies leverage the experience and wisdom of an entire workforce to solve a problem.

Hierarchical, top-down management structures make most decisions at the corporate office.

– Retirement: New attitudes define retirement personally. Adults plan for longevity and income sources. Age distinctions between workers and retirees are blurred. Retirement, at age 40 or older, is just another career transition – when adults continue to reassess and pursue desired goals.

Old attitudes view retirement as the resignation – sometimes mandatory – from a long-term employer at about 65, followed by years of relaxing or finally doing what one desires.

Are you ready for the changes and challenges of the 2020s? What’s next for you? “Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life” can show you how to move forward.