Unleashing the full capacity of your people

Labor Day in the U.S.: A Connection to Employee Engagement

Monday is Labor Day in the United States. It is a day to honor the contributions of workers in all walks of industry and service, although its origins are embedded in the formation of manufacturing workers’ unions of the 1800s.

Rosie and her team fully engaged in their task. You can match that commitment!

Rosie and her team fully engaged in their task. You can match that commitment!

Other countries have similar holidays, most of them celebrating labor on May Day (May 1). Regardless of their origins, all of these celebrations now have the same focus. Here is how the U.S. Department of Labor describes the purpose of Labor Day:

“Labor Day…is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

We find a very important concept embedded in the philosophy underlying Labor Day that is strongly reflected in our mentoring, coaching and training:

There is a tremendous amount of contribution inherent in all of the people who go to work every day, and organizations that adopt the mindset of “celebrating that contribution” every day through strong recognition and human development program outperform their competition.

Employee engagement is the key that unlocks all that latent contribution.

Offering frontline and mid-rank employees leadership training, even just honing their personal leadership skills regularly, unleashes a tremendous amount of extra productivity:

  • Consistent recognition instills pride, which increases the worker’s emotional connection to their work. This raises engagement, and therefore productivity.
  • Coaching raises skill levels more quickly, and embeds accountability and ownership in the tasks-at-hand.
  • Frontline managers are the drivers of employee engagement, because they are the ones responsible for on-the-job coaching (only they can truly understand the skill gaps that exist for each employee) and recognition (the best recognition is simple public acknowledgement for work well done, progress made, etc.)

This is the core concept you need to take away from Labor Day: Everyone contributes. Everyone takes responsibility for the quality of their work, and can take pride in that quality. Individual contribution at the front line of customer interaction, or on the line of the manufacturing process, is the most critical driver of organizational success. The work of these people is the focus of Labor Day, and should be the focus of every organization every day.

Do you think about “labor” on Labor Day? Do you have a labor-day mindset of engaging employees all the way from executive suite to shopfront, production line and phone bank? Indeed, do you see that a strong program of human capital investment in frontline workers may be more productive than reserving it for senior managers and those being groomed for executive roles?

If not, we have some results from strong “mid-level” leadership development that may surprise you, and show you a highly productive path to follow to raising productivity across your organization that pays back the investment in as little as 90 days.

Have a great holiday weekend. And take a few minutes to think about embedding the spirit of Labor Day into your everyday working life!


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