An Ode To The American Worker

by May 15, 2020Inspiring Stories

My father is one of eight kids. He was an ironworker for the same company for 45 years and decided it was time to spend more quality time outside of the career that he loved and finally retire. He was raised in a family that valued a career that put food on the table, and for which he showed up every day. For four and a half decades.

I strive to be like him, while recognizing that burnout wasn’t really acknowledged or understood back then, and many American workers probably felt the despair, anxiety, and dread I’ve been through, but without any options for processing it. My mission in establishing Burnout Institute was to channel my dad’s dedication, perseverance, and persistence in his craft and career, while eliminating corporate cultures that push people until they break.

Every year we celebrate Labor Day in September as a way to acknowledge the true meaning of the American worker and the contributions they have made to building a nation. I want to personally thank everyone who has ever and is currently working, because while we may not think about it on a day to day basis, we are running a country through our personal work. We are the engine behind hospitals, schools, companies, government corporations, and more. As an employer to a diverse team of individuals across multiple cultural backgrounds, generations, and time zones, including recently furloughed workers, I pride myself on practicing what I preach by encouraging my team to lead balanced lives, and to cultivate their creativity during their time at my company to prevent their own burnout. I, and other employers around the country, do not and should not carry the burden lightly that they are the only opportunity for many to express themselves and to help employees utilize their full potential in their work. We are also responsible for the lives of the employers’ families, who are depending on not only a paycheck but also a fulfilled individual coming home from work at the end of the day (or logging off virtual calls) knowing their work mattered to the company, the country, but mostly to themselves. This is not a small task.

I implore companies around the country on Labor Day and throughout the year to take a page out of Red Wing’s book, a company who, according to Men’s Journal,  is reconnecting with the true meaning of Labor Day by using the time not for “the biggest sales of the season”, but to promote available job positions. Their initiative #LaborDayOn is refreshing as they try to do their part in helping the 25 million unemployed Americans find jobs during one of the hardest years in recent history for all. What can you do, as a leader or member of your company, to lead the way?

  • Employ a variety and diversity of people, from all age groups, cultures, walks of life, and backgrounds. Don’t get stuck in the mindset that only a certain type of person can fulfill your needs for a certain position.

  • Ask what your employees enjoy doing, rather than telling them what you want them to do. You may be surprised to learn you have an artist in your factory who can and wants to redesign your company logo. This leads to more motivated, successful workers and people, who want to stick with your company for the long run.

  • Take time to discuss with employees how things are going for them. Do they feel useful, appreciated, and fulfilled, or depleted, under-utilized, and improperly placed in their position? Are you compensating them fairly for their work based on their time, experience, and competitive industry rates? Be open to feedback that’s hard to hear and make adjustments.

If your employee engagement, and maybe even your business results,  have started to decline, and you’re uncertain of how to effectively turn things around, consider partnering with us.  You’ll see results by adopting our success model which is an effective combination of best-in-class tools and processes.  We will empower your people to move beyond their stress and instead achieve results by unlocking their creativity.

Written by Jessica Walther, CEO of Itivate

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