National holidays are appreciated, especially when a two-day weekend becomes a three-day celebration or short break at the end of summer. I think we all have an opportunity to modernize the meaning of this holiday and movement. It starts with changing the perception of people from “workers” to “creators.” And we’re all in this together.
Let’s cover a little history for context. Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement from the late 1800s and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. According to the Department of Labor (DOL) website, the holiday “represents a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” This may be a slightly dated view of the situation and opportunity if we want to inspire a nation of capable and motivated people.
In March 2013, the Department of Labor celebrated 100 years of workplace innovation and progress. This video highlights key moments in DOL and world history:
Department of Labor Mission
The DOL’s mission has evolved over the years and is in place to “foster, promote and develop the welfare of wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of he United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” The video above mentions that we can’t know what the future of work will look like. What we do know is our nation has a number of economic, social, and sustainability challenges that require immediate changes in how we address significant problems. I think it's also fair to say that most of us are concerned about issues at home and for our families that were not top of mind in the 1990s.
Three Ideas to Embrace and Share
- View all people as creators
instead of workers. At our core, we have innate capabilities and desires to
create value for others and those we care about. The labor/workplace lens of old may be
reducing national innovation and competitiveness.
- Equip and reward businesses to
empower employee innovation and value creation inside and outside of the
workspace (not workplace); during and after official business hours.
Responsible moonlighting should be encouraged -- we’re all creators in many
domains of expertise and passion.
- The Department of Labor (DOL) should change its name to the Department of Creators and Collaboration (DOCC). The DOCC designs and implements new programs to educate employers, school boards and community groups on how to apply entrepreneurialism, collaborative approaches, and new technologies to achieve workspace, local community, and family goals.