Labor Day 2020: Celebrating the Wellbeing Benefits of Work
Posted by Chip Block on September 7, 2020 10:25 AM EDT
The origin of the annual Federal holiday we call Labor Day dates back to more than 125 years ago.....
....and a time where the American worker was generally a cog in the organizational machinery of business and government. Often misused, overworked and underappreciated, the mass market of manufacturing and production of goods and services often did not full take advantage of the inate creativity and collaborative capabilities and potential of workers.
Thus, for many people at that time, work was a necessary evil. And they were often treated poorly, thus leading to a strong period of union organizing to create a strong and "unified presence"-unity/union-against the demands of work. So, in 1894 Labor Day was officially declared a Federal holiday even though it had been celebrated at the state level for a number of years.
Fast forward to the modern era, the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the loss of jobs and the need for the Federal government to step in and create PPE and other policies to keep the workfoce afloat or at least to provide some sort of cushion against unemployment and consumer financial disaster. Add to this current disruption to work and careers and the role of small businesses, especially those in the social and entertainment space and the future is not perfectly clear. One of the key actions against COVID-19 is social distancing which dramatically affects all sorts of business such as restaurants, public entertainment, education and religious gatherings and specialty retail shopping. The impact of online stores, and food ordering online and commercial real estate lossed due to forced remote working is devestating the in the short term, the longer term again not very clear. Finally, for a few decades the movement of manufacturing to offshore (China, Russia, etc.) and even high-tech jobs such as software development. pharmaceuticals and technology and home furnishings has had not only a near term impact but has created dramatic job losses that current politics is focused on.
But where in all of this chaos is the marketplace of ideas and new innovations? And how does the future of work become a meaningful contributor to wellbeing?
So, looking back on the past and the history of the evolution of work and its role in the American political scene inspires us to try to look ahead to what may be the next evolution in work. While the future is unclear on all fronts, there are several ways to think about the role of work and the American worker in work and the impact of work on the wellbeing of the workers-not just the organizations that employ them.
Thus, while much of this picture in recent years and currently seems a bit bleak, there is opportunity in the following areas. And we may see an interesting innovation in the role of governmental entities in serving as a financial conduit for employing private sector employees and private sector managed production and services.
It is way too early to pontificate on these socio-economic trends, but it is equally hard to bet against ingenuity, creative new approaches and the role of entrepreneurship as a key factor in economic development and the historic success of the American free enterprise system. So, below are some areas where governmental scale and entrepreneurial creativity may one day drive transformative change:
-Aging infrastructure, roads, bridges and public spaces
-Baby boomers and growth of the aging population
-Homelessness and the excess of physical building space (offices, shops, etc.)
-The "long tail" bouyed by 3-D manufacturing and online purchasing
-Social services and the growth in "good enough" services in healthcare, education and support for elderly
-Public education and lessons learned and reapplied from COVID-19
-Natural energy-and reduced dependence on fossil fuels from foreign sources
-Improvements in public health due to healthy lifestyles and supported recovery versus healthcare, avoidable surgeries, pharmacy products and reductions in chronic illnesses
-Renewed civic engagement-in the positive and productive sense
-And, ultimately, the rethinking of work as primarily a financial mechanism but as the best way to create wellbeing on all fronts of the Gallup scale (career, financial, physical, social and community)