The Importance of Work

As I get ready to celebrate Labor Day this weekend, I was thinking about this holiday. My natural curiosity led me to look up the history, which began with a workers’ march in New York City in 1882. Congress made Labor Day an official holiday 12 years later in 1894, spurred by an American Railroad Union strike in June of that year.

Why do we still celebrate today? I believe it is because work is important. Aside from the last barbecues and outings of summer, the holiday celebrates the value of work and those who perform it. Labor Day gives working people the opportunity to pause and reflect on the value of what they do.

That value is not only measured in what hard work means to businesses and to our country, but to each person. Each of us must define our individual worth in some measure, and for many, that measure is the work we perform. Promotions and salary increases are tangible measures of our work and our worth to our employer and to ourselves. Work defines us, provides a source of self-esteem, and gives a sense of pride in job well done.

What happens when a person no longer has a job to define his or her value? Losing a job is devastating, not only financially but in terms of a worker’s self-esteem and self-value. Job loss can be especially hard if it is a result of circumstances beyond the worker’s control, having nothing to do with performance. A worker who is used to being rewarded for a good job, performing his or her best, and gaining self-respect as a byproduct will need some kind of support to maintain drive and the will to move forward.

This is where a career counselor or outplacement provider can help. Support to move forward to a new opportunity can maintain a person’s sense of worth and value, which in turn will make it easier to find a new position quickly. Employers, if you need to lay off workers, please consider this as the best thing you can provide to help them transition to a new place.

Work is important. I hope everyone celebrates the opportunity to work this Labor Day!

Still the Waters

You decide to let an employee go. For whatever reason, it’s a difficult decision and one that affects someone’s life. You want to do the right things for the right reasons for both your business and for the employee; reduce your unemployment costs, lessen the likelihood of legal action, help the employee get a new start.

Your decision may not have considered what’s going on with the remaining employees. They are watching, talking, and probably fearing they are next to go. The upheaval caused by separation has a profound effect on those left behind, and you need to do all you can to calm the situation and keep the waves from turning to a tsunami.

One of the easiest and best ways to do the right thing for the separated employee, as well as those who remain, is to provide outplacement support. Outplacement helps the separated employee get back on his feet and start taking positive steps forward to the next opportunity. Outplacement is proven to get people back to work faster, often in a better fitting position. It benefits your business by reducing the costs associated with separation. But it also assures the remaining employees that their friend is going to be ok, is getting the help he needs, and will be back to work as soon as possible. It shows that, while making the difficult decision to separate someone, you care enough to make sure everyone is supported when in need.

Don’t let your current employees worry about their friend, build fear, and imagine the worst. Show them you are doing the right thing and help your former employee land in a great place.