The first Monday in September is quickly creeping up on us, heralding a number of changes: the season is quickly turning from summer to fall, the kids are back in school, and Labor Day provides many organizations with a long, holiday weekend. While most of us relish a chance to enjoy some of the last nice summer days, we don’t often take a moment to reflect on what Labor Day signifies and why we celebrate it in the workplace. 

During the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American was working 12 hour days, 7 days a week, just to manage to make a basic living. As a result, labor unions were established to give workers a voice, and an outlet to strike and rally against poor working conditions and wages. The government first recognized the celebration of “Labor Day” through municipal ordinances in 1885 and 1886. By 1894, Congress passed an act that made the first Monday of September an annual, legal holiday. This day has since evolved and is now dedicated to the economic and social achievements of workers in the United States.

As a federal holiday, all government offices, schools, and organizations are closed, along with a number of other pubic businesses. The original intent, a day for relaxation for and celebration of the American worker, still rings true today. The issue many individuals in today’s workforce run into, is turning work off. Computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices weren’t invented over 100 years ago, so when an employee went home, they were much more able to relax and truly unplug.

In a recent study, it was reported that stress causes U.S. businesses nearly $300 million every year due to a loss of productivity, absenteeism, medical issues, and employee turnover. This Labor Day, try to remember what this day is all about, a chance to de-stress and rejuvenate. Try and refrain from checking work-related emails and voicemails, and try not to let your work invade your personal life this weekend. Switch off your device and enjoy this holiday that was established to celebrate Y.O.U., an American employee in today’s workforce.