A brief history of Labour Day
Labour Day, which is also known as May Day was first only celebrated in Chicago in May 1886. The story behind its celebration began in 19th century industrialization, where many companies exploited the labour class and made them work up to 15 more hours a day. To change this condition, workers united and conducted strikes and protests on the street to demand eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and another eight hours for rest.
From May 1 to May 4, the strikes became so violent as demonstrants threw a bomb and polices acted by ensuing gunfire at workers which resulted to several casualties. This incident is remembered as the Haymarket Affair as it took place in Haymarket Square in Chicago.
In 1889, a meeting was held to respond to the massacre and protests. Then, the Congress decided to call upon proletarian organisation of all counties to stop any working activities on May 1. Thus, May 1 was dedicated to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre and International Labour Day.
Until today, this celebration is a good reminder of why labour struggles were necessary. Many countries celebrate the day by dancing or gathering around a pole. While, some countries are still fighting for labour rights on May 1 by doing strikes and protests.
What about you? How do you celebrate your May Day? If you don’t have a plan yet, here are some interesting ideas for you.
Give personal recognition for employee achievements – True leaders understand that employee recognition is crucial. It can boost employee morale and engagement. Labour Day could be the perfect time to show appreciation of your staff’s hard work. It does not have to be a fancy gift or even a party. Instead, you can give them simple but genuine personal notes of recognition. Acknowledge their achievements, hard work, ideas, and loyalty towards the company. While you do not have to wait for May Day to give such recognition, you can make this one special.
Offer bonuses or other non-financial perks – It is important to value exceptional works of your employees. Although money can be a good financial boost for employees, there are also other alternative perks you can prepare for your employees. You can add follow up perks like options to work remotely or flexi work arrangement where employees can choose their own schedule.
Initiate activities outside the office space – Your team will appreciate it a lot when you care about their health and wellbeing. Therefore, offer them fun activities a day after May Day holiday can be a good idea.
Offer holiday visit to historical places regarding commemoration of Labour Day – This can be a very touching perks you can give to your employees on Labour Day. Invite them to visit historical places of May Day commemoration in or outside town. Not only will it remind them about the labour struggles in the past, it can also boost their work empathy as they can learn the brutal story of labour fight. However, if there is no historical Labour Day spot in your city, you can do activities related to Labour Day commemoration such as conducting a lunch party with a May Day commemoration theme.