Have You Forgotten The Meaning of Labor Day?

Today we’re enjoying a holiday dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the American workers. It began as a national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Labor Day evolved because workers felt they were spending too many hours and days on the job. In the 1830s, workers in manufacturing plants were putting in 70-hour weeks on average. At the height of the industrial revolution, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite some state restrictions, children as young as 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning even lower wages than their adult counterparts.

The founders of Labor Day were looking for two things: a way to unify union workers and a reduction in work time. They wanted an event that brought different types of workers together to meet each other and recognize their common interests.

While most of us say we can’t wait to have a day away from the office, some folks literally say they hate their job and feel that way every day. Most of us probably know someone who complains about their job or their boss every day. That’s a terrible way to live considering you spend upwards of half your waking hours at work. If you can’t stand what you do, it’s hard to feel good about your life. 

The good news is you don’t have to stay in a place you simply feel is not a good fit. There are steps you can take to move on if you hate your job and you’re not happy at work. Too many people spend too much time in jobs or work environments they dislike or even actively hate.

It’s in your best interests to try to find work that’s a better fit. You’ll be happier, and you’re also likely to perform better at your job. Which can lead to better opportunities and promotions down the road.

It’s ironic Labor Day was created to bring attention to too long workdays. In a society where we are always connected, the issue of longer work days and weeks is becoming the norm, especially for highly skilled white-collar workers. Are you constantly connected to work? Do you check emails and texts all night? Or do you disconnect and recharge?

If not, it’s time to create a tradition which honors the original spirit of Labor Day. Give yourself the day off. Shut off your phone, computer and other electronic devices that keep you tethered to work. One of the greatest things you can do to protect yourself from burnout, and increase your productivity is rest.

It’s important to take a step away from the pressure to be always-on in today’s modern workplace.

As we all enjoy a day away from the office, I urge you to use it as intended. Celebrate your professional achievements and step away from the pressure to answer every ding or notification immediately. You’ll enjoy your day more and feel better prepared to tackle the work week when you go back on Tuesday!

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