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As your head is spinning with the millions of things on your plate, it becomes so easy to keep it simple: give them a half day, have a meal catered, or maybe even have the managers BBQ for their team (if they can be bothered that is). If this day is specifically geared towards the celebration of Laborers, how can you ensure your workers’ labor does not get glossed over by “just another” potluck?

What is a Company Labor Day Celebration?

A company Labor Day celebration is a company-wide observance of the US federal holiday Labor Day. The holiday honors and recognizes the US Labor movement, its workers, and all the accomplishments thereof. The holiday takes place on the first Monday in September and the weekend it falls on is called Labor Day weekend.

A company’s observance of the holiday typically consists of a specified time in the office where employees can enjoy refreshments, activities, and socialization.

Why is a Company Labor Day Celebration Important?

A company Labor Day celebration is important for improving morale and camaraderie, demonstrating that employees are valued and publicly recognizing individual and group achievements.

Improving Morale and Camaraderie

Company celebrations bring the entire staff together in a less formal setting which helps to create a sense of unity. This gives employees a chance to bond, which in turn fosters healthy collaboration and teamwork.

According to Forbes, Researchers at Gallup have repeatedly confirmed a link between close working relationships and high organizational performance. The ‘State of the American Workplace report found employees who feel a deep sense of affiliation with others on their team ‘are driven to take positive actions that benefit the business – actions they may not otherwise even consider.’ Additionally, research from Workhuman and IBM Smarter Workforce Institute shows when employees agree co-workers help each other if needed, 77% report a more positive employee experience, which is associated with more discretionary effort and lower turnover.

Making Employees Feel Valued

Labor Day is specifically geared to celebrate the effort and accomplishments of laborers. Therefore, it is impactful to employees to be celebrated by the company they work for. This is a way to ensure your staff feels seen, needed, and appreciated by their company.

Opportunity for Public Recognition

Public recognition can come in many forms. Certificates, non-cash prizes, or verbal recognition encourage a sense of accomplishment and belonging to something bigger. Research suggests that recognition, ranging from verbal praise to non-cash awards, can be a cost-effective tool to raise employee morale and lower stress, absenteeism, and turnover. Furthermore, while employees benefit from recognition programs, organizations who adopt them also tend to see increased worker productivity and performance, improved profitability, higher retention rates, and decreased costs associated with turnover.

Ideas for a Company Labor Day Celebration

A company BBQ or picnic is the most common company Labor Day celebration, but a celebration isn’t the only way to celebrate. It could also be celebrated through mini bonuses or even a shortened workday.

Company BBQ or Picnic

A company BBQ is the traditional way to celebrate Labor Day. This is a simple way to make employees feel appreciated and cared for. An event like this isn’t limited to after-hours. In a practical sense, this could take place on campus with minimal impact on the production of the employees that day. Some ideas include:

  • Flip the tables. Have the managers/team leaders grill and serve their team.
  • Pick a theme. A theme could be all white or luau for example.
  • Include public recognition. This could have a silly twist such as “who has the cleanest shoes?” Or it can be an acknowledgment of a team/individual goal that has been reached.

A company picnic typically takes place off-campus and after hours. Some ideas to make a company picnic memorable include:

  • Invite the family. Invite and encourage employees to bring their families. This helps coworkers gain perspective into their peers’ lives and facilitates peer-to-peer bonding in addition to peer-family bonding.
  • Include activities. If family members are invited, include some age-appropriate activities such as face painting. Other ideas could include team vs. team (or bosses vs. employees) sports, three-legged races, and pie-eating contests.
  • Showcase talent. Include a sign-up for a mini talent show where employees can showcase their hobbies. Don’t be afraid to volunteer yourself and encourage upper staff members to perform a comedy skit to break the ice.

Mini Bonuses

A bonus is the use of cash as a gift to your employees. The effectiveness is undeniable as it sends a clear message of value. In fact, SHRM surveys from 2002-2016 consistently show that compensation and rewards are two of the top five contributors to employees’ overall job satisfaction.

This isn’t limited to cash-only bonuses as cash bonuses aren’t feasible for every company. Some non-cash bonuses include PTO bonuses, unpaid time off, and gift cards. One benefit of non-cash bonuses is the openness they inspire between peers. While some employees won’t feel comfortable discussing cash bonuses, they may feel more than comfortable talking about an extended lunch they had. This can contribute to higher morale throughout the workplace.

Shortened Work Day

A shortened workday is releasing your staff earlier than their schedule states. This can be anywhere from a half-day to releasing employees a few hours early. This can be scheduled out as something for your staff to look forward to or can be done as a pleasant surprise. Giving your staff a jump on their weekend sends the message that their time and work-life balance are valued by the company. A 2021 article from BBC states, A key factor, say, experts, is that working fewer hours leads to happier, healthier, more engaged workforces.

Tips for Hosting a Company Labor Day Celebration

Tip 1: Keep It Fun

According to Jonathan Kesser of Fast Company, I’ve found that air of silliness can be just the spark you need to inspire your team to be their best self.

In addition, a study funded by Make Their Day, an employee motivation firm, and Badgeville, a gamification company, surveyed 1,200 U.S. employees from a broad cross-section of industries. They found 90% of employees said a “fun work environment” was very or extremely motivating.

Tip 2: Involve the Family

By involving employees’ families, you show that your company values who they are outside of work. Additionally, involving families provides employees with family bonding and the opportunity to discover shared interests with colleagues and supervisors. That connection can have a great impact on employee retention.

Tip 3: Include Staff Recognition

The same study referenced above funded by Make Their Day (see the section called Keep it Fun) found:

  • 83% of respondents said recognition for contributions was more fulfilling than any rewards or gifts.
  • 76% found peer praise very or extremely motivating.
  • 88% found praise from managers very or extremely motivating.

In Closing

If leveraged strategically, a Labor Day company celebration can be a valuable tool to increase productivity, improve retention and grow your staff’s overall job satisfaction.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Company Labor Day Celebration

Yes, a company Labor Day celebration can be done remotely. If physically gathering for a company celebration is not an option, gathering virtually is an excellent alternative. Some ideas include
Video Call Celebration. To keep it orderly, these calls can include activities and break-out rooms, a virtual talent show, and restaurant gift cards delivered to employees to use for the event.
Company Recognition Chat
Company-Wide or Team-Based Social Media Group.

Arguably what’s more important than hosting a virtual event is fostering a culture of remote ways to stay connected on a non-professional level.

Employees should not be mandated to attend a company celebration. Encourage attendance with prizes, food, and activities, but do not mandate attendance. Some workers may avoid social functions due to a mental or physical impairment or other legally protected reasons. Disciplining employees for not attending social functions can cause potential employment discrimination issues.

Kayla is the Chief Innovation Officer at Hero Culture, where the passion is to create company cultures of retention using the power of personality.

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