How did you spend Labor Day weekend? Did you have a barbecue or go to a baseball game? Did you watch the latest upset in the U.S. Open? Or did you choose to spend the long weekend in nature, enjoying the last days of summer on a long hike or floating down a river in an inner tube?

Or maybe you didn’t have Monday off. According to Business News Daily, 15% of people in the technical and security fields reported to work on the holiday. And regardless of the industry or department, 41% of businesses kept some staff on the job.

There is no federal mandate to give workers the holiday off. Employers are most likely to offer this benefit on Labor Day, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day. Even among those who have to work on Labor Day, 86% receive extra pay or compensatory time off. In some form or other, recognition of the day and its significance holds fast.

Many people associate Labor Day with union jobs, given its history. Twelve years before President Grover Cleveland declared the day a federal holiday in 1894, 10,000 workers in New York City organized through labor unions and formed the first Labor Day parade on September 5. Without the consent of their employers, this group marched from City Hall to Union Square.

Today, the number of union workers in the U.S. hovers around 10%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning the majority of employees are not unionized. But regardless of their workers’ union status, business leaders would be wise to consider how they can support the workforce that depends on them. Labor Day is an excellent reminder of the importance of demonstrating that you genuinely value the people who help generate profits and create the core and character of your business.

In addition to time off or overtime for holidays, it is vital to periodically review benefits with workers. This includes health insurance details, retirement planning, paths to promotion, vacation and sick time, job training, counseling, scholarship programs, and other resources and programs your organization offers. Take the temperature of your staff, using in-house or outsourced HR services to gather information about the relevance of your benefits programs and the satisfaction levels among employees in relation to various forms of compensation.

Our jobs do not solely define us, but in one way or another, we are all working people. We can honor and recognize those contributions year-round, not just on Labor Day. Listening to your employees, strengthening available support systems , and celebrating their contributions not only increases engagement but also improves your experience as a business leader laboring alongside them.


Photo: Lithograph depicting original Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New York, 1882.