Labor Day was made an official holiday in 1894 to honor the contributions of laborers who built America’s railroads, highways, and infrastructure. Today, like many modern holidays, it’s viewed as an opportunity for big sales and to enjoy leisure time away from work, of course.
Living in New York City, it’s impossible to ignore the dichotomy between the “haves” and the “have-nots” as workers in several professions continue to churn out profits while many others are forced to sometimes work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet.
Having spent the past 23 years collaborating with dedicated health care workers, I’ve continually seen how Labor Day (and any other holiday) is just another day for these professionals in hospitals around the nation to care for their patients. Their work never stops and they continually step up to the plate to take care of other people’s families—even if it means sometimes not being with their own family for holiday events.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s State of Well-Being 2022-2023 Report, 51% of health care workers reported heightened burn-out and lack of cohesion/ belonging, which diminishes psychological safety, loyalty, and productivity. Additionally, 58% of employees reported emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, and irritability.
These statistics can also be seen in the general working population. According to the Gartner Future of Work research in 2022, employees are facing mental health fissures expressed through heightened stress and anxiety, exacerbated by the long-term physical and emotional impact of COVID on staff. Gartner’s research showed that 60% of people reported daily job stress, and a 2020 American Psychological Association study found that 64% of adults said their job was a significant source of stress. John Holland, considered one of the founders of Vocational Psychology, developed RIASEC codes and the theory of Vocational Choice which aims to help people discover what type of work will be most satisfying for them. It does not take into consideration, however, that sometimes people don’t have a choice in what type of job they work due to familial or financial situations. However, the RIASEC research does show us that having a sense of meaning, purpose, and identification with one’s occupation does typically make for happier workers.
We can easily see that work and mental health have a bi-directional impact on one other—with work impacting stress and our stress levels impacting work. So today, in honor of Labor Day—whether you’re at the beach enjoying a BBQ with friends, or working to support your community in your job—I hope you can strengthen your sense of belonging and meaning by telling a colleague or co-worker how they matter to you, the people you serve, and to the greater good.
I’m sending you strength and love.
Soaringwords is the power to heal.