Labor Day is more than a day for blowout furniture sales, backyard barbeques, and the unofficial end of wearing white clothing. Although we see flyers and signs covered in red, white and blue, it’s not really a day to celebrate the flag or even the country, but a day to celebrate the achievements of the 155 million men and women who are in the US workforce. The Americans who make this country great as a by-product of working hard and earning an honest living to provide for their families. There are days and weeks observed for nurses, teachers, and even dental hygienists, but this is the day EVERYONE matters. Whether you earned your education from an ivy league university, community college, or the school of hard knocks, this day is for YOU! There is no disputing our county’s need for doctors and lawyers, but we also need store clerks and janitors to make our great nation function as it does. And the same is true for business. Everyone plays a part in the success of a business. If they didn’t, why would they be there? Whether you own a business, run a business, or do business; it’s important to remember that EVERYONE matters.

Treat people as you would like to be treated

You’ve heard it a thousand times. Most likely from your parents or school teachers in reference to your siblings or classmates, but treating others as you would like to be treated, is one of the most valuable lessons to live by. We simply do not know what someone else’s story is. One CEO could work his way to the top while another simply inherited a business. One entry-level clerk might be paying her way through college while another has retired from a prestigious career and is simply filling his days. We shouldn’t be kinder to people with large offices than those sitting behind a cubical. And on the flip side, we shouldn’t dislike people just because they have a large office. Treat people how you would like to be treated. Say hello to the blue collars and the white collars when you pass them in a hallway. Be kind to every business associate you encounter because EVERYONE matters.

Try complimenting a coworker, or even your own boss. Be kind to the CSR on the other end of the phone, they will be more likely to help you if you treat them like a real person.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organization to give their best each day, committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being. Employee engagement is key to the success of any business. If employees are not engaged, they do not feel valued. Employees who do not feel valued; do not work as hard, do not represent their company as well, and are constantly waiting (and sometimes looking) for something better to come along. Retention rates are directly related to employee engagement and wages/salary, which tend to go hand in hand. Company picnics are not enough. All employees want to hear company news from the company they work for, not the evening news. All employees would like the opportunity to represent their employer in volunteer efforts, not just a select few. EVERYONE matters.

Try interviewing someone from each department for quotes for your monthly newsletter or create a survey with questions that are totally unrelated to work, but more on the personal side. Send a holiday card to the CEO of the company that you do business with regularly AND the sales associate that helps you with your needs on a regular basis.

Every employee plays a part

Employers do not pay wages to dispensable employees. Every single position is needed for the success of the business. Without Marketing, we would cease to exist to the outside world. Without Sales, there would be no revenue. Without Account Managers, there would be no client relationships. Without Operations and Manufacturing, materials and labor wouldn’t be turned into goods and services.  Without Finance, there would be no collections or credit. Without HR, there would be no payroll or even employees! Without R & D, there would be no growth.  Without Training or Quality, there would be no standards and therefore; no demand for sub-par products. Without Customer Service or a Receptionist, we would have unhappy, unguided customers. Without IT, we would surely be hacked! Without maintenance, we would have no overhead lights or even toilet paper!  EVERYONE matters.

Try leaving a little thank you note for the person who empties your trash at night. Try not to gear your anger or frustrations towards the employee who is simply the middle man, he’s just doing his job.

What’s fair is fair

People need to know that their sick child or family emergency will be valued as any other employee’s would. No one wants to work for a company that would allow a salaried employee to leave for a family emergency without question while an hourly employee fears to lose their job for doing the same. There is no such thing as fair, but there is something to be said about a company that treats its employees fairly. While fair is unattainable, fairly implies an effort; which is worth a lot. We need to treat people like people. Have you ever seen a co-worker or employee in the supermarket with their spouse on a weekend and you barely recognized them because they’re in their Sunday best instead of a uniform? Suddenly you feel underdressed. Or how about a CEO in her soccer mom attire with little Johnny in tote, who happens to be screaming for candy. She can control an entire company but not a cranky 5-year-old? At the end of the day, when the uniform goes in the hamper, and the suit goes to the dry cleaner, we’re all just people working for our families. EVERYONE matters.

Hold the door for both the janitor and the VP. Just picture everyone in their…”Average Joe” jeans😊

Tools of success

Give people the tools they need to be successful. Period. Regardless of title. Not just physical tools, like a box cutter or adding machine, but the unseen tools that all employees need. You can’t put a writer in a cubical without windows and expect them to generate creative thoughts. You can’t put a customer service representative next to a fan and expect them to hear the client on the other end of the phone. You can’t expect employees to work efficiently and generate BIG ideas without an empowerment initiative in place.  And don’t forget that HR and upper management need the tool of communication in order to make changes too. EVERYONE matters.

Communicate. We could learn a lot from an anonymous survey. Actually ask people what they need to do their jobs better. Even the smallest gesture is appreciated when you feel like someone cares.

In a perfect world, we would all work the same number of hours for the same amount of pay, for the same amount of effort. But let’s be real here. Even if we started that way, someone would become the overachiever, someone would end up bossing everyone else around, and someone would become lazy and allow the overachiever to overachieve. It’s just human nature. There will always be a natural or unnatural pecking order. It’s up to us to remember that we need everyone and EVERYONE matters.