Employee Engagement: Don’t Contract Into False Labour

A post Labour Day lament: Are you experiencing a labour of love?

Labour Day

Are you in labour? Have you been labouring under the wrong impression? We celebrated Labour Day in Canada and Labor Day in the United States on September 5th., the first Monday of September. This was a day to celebrate and honour working people. I appreciate the holiday but believe we should celebrate labour every day.

In Canada, as opposed to America, we spell labour with the “u” in it. It got me thinking about the “u” in labour.  Are you in labour? Do you personally engage fully with your work or are you stuck in false labour with the contractions of can’t and won’t?

On one hand, labour is defined as the process of childbirth while it also means to work hard and make great effort. Can you work hard and make strong effort to give birth to your own health and wellbeing experienced through work, not something done after work or outside of work?

I think many of us have a false notion of loving our work. We think it is an effusive emotion and hold onto an unrealistic ideal. At times work is tiring, gritty, and energy depleting but if those times become day after day not only is our work in trouble we are in jeopardy too. I love Erich Fromm’s writing in the Art of Loving. He defines love less as a passive emotion and more as the active manifestation of discipline, concentration, and patience. Do you bring these three lovely attributes to your work?

I encourage you during the year between this labour day and next labour day to take full responsibility for your own engagement. Engagement is not something done “to” you or “for” you it is primarily your connection to your work, the people you work with, and the organization. If you think the organization is responsible for your own engagement it turns you into a potential victim of the organization and work.

Engagement is yours. It can go with you into all the areas of your life. Now don’t get me wrong, there are influences on our engagement, we don’t live in some mythical workplace where everything is a ferry tale. And we don’t work in isolation. We are accountable for the influence we have on others engagement as they are accountable for the influences they have on our engagement.

Lets keep engagement simple – good work done well with others every day.  Labour day is not a once a year holiday it is how you work every day. Labour day is less about time off work and more about fully immersing yourself in the time you are working. Concentrate, be disciplined, be patient, be gritty, and there is a good chance you will be labouring in love.


David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Winnipeg Canada who is focused on The New Employee Engagement, This year he has worked on engagement in: Turkey, Malaysia, Canada, United States, UK, Dubai, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia.



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