Show gratitude this Labor Day

September 2, 2013 

Labor Day observance is an opportunity for many of us to relax, enjoy a favorite hobby or spend time with family or friends. For children and young adults, it signals the end of summer and the start of the school season.

Labor Day can also be a time to reflect and to be thankful for the workplace we have today compared to that of the late 1800s.

Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 to celebrate workers and their achievements. Before the enactment of Labor Day, and at the height of the Industrial Revolution, Americans worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks to earn income that barely covered expenses. In some states, children as young as 5 or 6 worked in factories, mills and mines earning a faction of their adult counterparts' wages. People of all ages often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, insufficient fresh air, unsanitary facilities and no breaks.

While today's work environment is far superior, one important quality that has not changed and hiring managers continue to seek in workers is a moral virtue of hard work and diligence, or work ethic.

As President Richard M. Nixon once said, "The work ethic holds that labor is good in itself; that a man or woman becomes a better person by virtue of the act of working. America's competitive spirit, the work ethic of this people, is alive and well on Labor Day, 1971."

If you have not shown your employees gratitude in some fashion, now is the time to consider doing so. There are many ways to show appreciation that does not cost one cent. Write a simple note, verbally thank them for something they've done well, or document something positive in their personnel file. Showing gratefulness has its benefits too by raising morale, loyalty, and the desire to do good work.

Mary Helen Kress, is president and CEO of Suncoast Workforce, a nonprofit corporation serving Manatee and Sarasota counties.

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