While Labor Day might be seen as simply a day off work, it is important to revive the meaning of the holiday and use it as a way to celebrate your employees. Workers appreciate having their employer recognize and celebrate their achievements, whether it be work-related or personal. It can enhance employee engagement and camaraderie amongst coworkers, which in turn can increase overall workplace happiness and productivity.
Especially with the transition to working from home (WFH) in the previous years, Labor Day offers the perfect opportunity to reconnect and celebrate your employees and their achievements. We chatted with industry experts to find out how you can celebrate Labor Day in an engaging and exciting way — aside from the usual day off.
5 Ways to Celebrate Employees for Labor Day
If you want to find ways to celebrate and enhance employee engagement this Labor Day, here are five unique ways you can make the day more meaningful aside from the usual federal holiday.
1. Recognize Employee Achievements
The best way to celebrate your employees on Labor Day, and any other day for that matter, is to celebrate their achievements. You can do this by recognizing certain attributes and work-related successes like good work ethic, reaching work goals or outcomes and completing a form of professional development.
It’s all about recognizing employee value to the organization or company. “Make sure your team knows their value, and your business will have a loyal, motivated and successful workforce,” says Lilian Chen, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Bar None Games.
In fact, 37 percent of employees report that employee recognition is the most important thing their manager or company can do to motivate them at work, according to a survey done by Zippia.
There are various ways you can recognize employee achievements within your workplace and company on Labor Day. Some of the suggested ways include:
Present or announce company-wide awards
Recognize work achievements at a team meeting
Publicize outstanding productivity or achievements in the company newsletter or workplace app for those working from home or within remote companies
Personalized rewards such as gift cards or vouchers for individual employees
Sharing shoutouts and gratitudes between employees at team meetings
2. Celebrate Personal Achievements, Too
While the obvious way to celebrate Labor Day is to focus on work-related achievements amongst your employees, you shouldn’t forget about personal achievements either (when appropriate). It can be a good exercise to recognize an employee's personal milestones and this can apply all year round.
“Celebrations are a huge part of nurturing employee retention and building stronger relationships at work,” says Dalia Katan, Founder and CEO of Presently. “We do this for teammate birthdays and milestones… We've also seen the number of group gifts organized boom during these past two years for baby showers, weddings and farewells.”
While this might not be directly related to Labor Day, it can be a great way to enhance employee engagement and retention by showing that you care about them outside of the work environment too.
3. Organize a Team Event (Even Virtually)
If you really want to celebrate Labor Day within your company, putting a special event on is the perfect way to recognize the day. “Events are a great way to bring the team together — virtual or IRL,” says Katan. In fact, they can be especially important if there some employees work remotely.
With the huge trend of transitioning to more flexible workplaces and work-from-home arrangements, the connection between employees and employers can be lost. In a study by Buffer, the two biggest challenges of working remotely were identified by workers as collaboration/communication and loneliness. It can then become even more important for employers to put a bigger emphasis on celebrating days like Labor Day to help enhance engagement and connection.
Events don’t have to be IRL, either. If your team is partly or fully remote, there are many different options for hosting events online. “Having team dinners can be remote; Doordash or Starbucks treats can be delivered to their address,” recommends Katan. Otherwise, hosting a Labor Day BBQ or team lunch can be good options for workplaces whose teams are able to meet at a convenient location in person.
There are various events you could organize for your team or company around Labor Day, whether virtual or in person. Some suggested events you could try include:
Company-wide lunch or dinner (via Zoom or in the office)
Team-building exercises in-house, at a hosted venue or virtually
Company retreats to reflect on achievements and improvements
Workout classes or well-being sessions for employees
Virtual classes or events for everyone to participate in
A formal gala or ball to celebrate the company and all its employees
4. Offer the Day Off with Pay
While Labor Day is recognized as a federal holiday, it’s not necessarily required for all businesses to provide payment to employees for the day off. However, in the spirit of the holiday’s origin, it can be a nice gesture to pay your employees for the day as PTO.
In fact, Linda Shaffer, Chief People and Operations Officer (CPOO) at Checkr, suggests paying your workers so they can really enjoy Labor Day and take a break from work. “We want our employees to rest and enjoy this Labor Day. To ensure this, we will be giving everyone the day off with pay. We will also be having a company-wide BBQ next week to celebrate all of our employees' hard work,” says Shaffer.
This gesture can demonstrate how much you value their contribution to the company. It also delivers key Labor Day messages to employees about the importance of the American labor movement across the country.
5. Provide Fair Compensation and Benefits
On top of providing a paid day off for Labor Day, you can take it as an opportunity to ensure that you’re providing fair compensation and benefits to your employees regardless. Shaffer believes that providing fair pay to all positions is “one of the most important ways to show your employees that you appreciate them.”
Despite the ongoing “Great Resignation” that continues to sweep industries, you can take Labor Day as a sign to make sure you’re competitive with your working conditions and benefits. “You can run a market analysis to ensure you’re offering competitive salaries and review your benefits package to make sure it meets your employees’ needs,” recommends Shaffer. This can help retain your employees and show that you value their work.
According to statistics collated by Quantum Workplace, 28 percent of employees left their jobs for better pay and 27 percent left because they felt undervalued or under-appreciated. Ensuring that you provide fair compensation and flexible benefits is one of the key ways to retain your workers and also help celebrate their value to your company.
Celebrate Your Employees on Labor Day and Every Other Day
Labor Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate your employees and show them how much you value their contribution and work — a key component of employee satisfaction. While providing a paid day off is one way of showing gratitude to employees, there are other ways you can celebrate.
Recognizing employee achievements through awards, gifts and shoutouts can be a great option for celebrating their wins at work. You could also go for a company-wide celebration with a luncheon or remote team-building session to include both your in-person and remote employees. Either way, recognizing your employees’ value can be one of the best ways to boost morale, enjoyment and connection within your workplace.
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Jenna Scatena is a writer and content strategist with a love for stories that have never been told before. More than a decade of working with prominent magazines and brands informs her approach to impactful storytelling. Her stories have reached more than 30 million readers, won multiple awards and been anthologized in books. Jenna's work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, Marie Claire, The San Francisco, BBC and The Atlantic. She's the founder of the editorial consultancy, Lede Studio.