Many people think of Labor Day weekend as a time to squeeze in a last summer getaway. Camping, barbecues, and boats abound, but there’s actually a bigger meaning. Labor Day in the United States is meant to celebrate workers and came about as a result of protesting terrible working conditions in the 1800s. While working conditions in the US may not consist of children working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week anymore, there is definitely still workplace discontent—just look at the recent Amazon debacle.
Now, you might not have employees rioting in the streets if your conditions aren’t ideal, but you’ll have actively disengaged and unhappy employees which might actually be worse. When employees are secretly unhappy, they’re damaging your company in a way that isn’t easily visible. Their productivity suffers, they’ll spread negativity to coworkers, and you may have no idea it’s even going on. Here are some of the workplace conditions that could cause poor work conditions:
Long Hours: Like I said, your employees probably aren’t working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, but there are still some companies that expect employees to put in long days if they want to move up. According to a Gallup study, American employees currently work an average of 47 hours a week—40 percent work at least 50 hours a week. At BambooHR, we feel like employees can get more done if their lives are balanced. That means that no one here is working 10 hour days. In fact, we try to keep it pretty close to 40 highly focused hours a week, and it works really well for us.
No Time Off (Or Unlimited Time Off): Again, your employees need a break, but 41 percent of them aren’t using their paid vacation days. Give them adequate time off, encourage them to use it, and don’t require them to be constantly checking email while they’re off. Also, don’t say you have unlimited time off just so that you can deprive people of actually taking days off. It’s dishonest. Yes, I know unlimited time off works well for some companies. But if you’re going to implement it, make sure it doesn’t evolve into employees pressuring each other to take as little vacation as possible.
Lack of Growth: The number one reason employees leave their jobs is because of a lack of advancement. People like to feel like they’re growing in their careers and moving up. Now, that doesn’t necessarily have to mean climbing up the ladder. You don’t need to promote each employee every year. You can help employees set and accomplish goals and help them gain new skills they desire.
Toxic Leaders: People often quit their bosses—not jobs; in fact, a Gallup study found that half of us have left because of bad bosses. And even if you haven’t had a boss experience bad enough to walk, you’ve probably had one bad enough to make you fantasize about rage quitting or talk about around the water cooler. Make sure you carefully select the employees who get to be leaders and ensure they’re treating your people well. Promoting or hiring employees who have bad behavior will send a message that you value those types of behaviors.
Toxic Coworkers: Leaders aren’t the only people who can damage a work experience. Your employees probably spend more time during the week with their coworkers than they do with their own families. It’s important that your employees are respectful of one another and at least pleasant to be around. Keep that in mind when you’re interviewing people for new positions within the company. Remember: good employees are 54 percent more likely to leave their jobs when they have a toxic coworker.
Bad Culture: More than half of employees think their company culture is in need of a major overhaul. Bad company culture can be a culmination of all or some of the things above plus other things. Make sure your workplace is a great place to be. Have company values that guide your employees’ behaviors. This will help cultivate a culture that makes your employees happier.
Your employees are probably looking forward to their long weekend, but you should be sure that they look forward to coming back to work too. On Labor Day, we shouldn’t just remember those who fought for better working conditions 200 years ago; we should also take a look at the current state of our working conditions and make sure they’re fair and sustainable. Now go enjoy your break. Happy Labor Day!