May Day! May Day!

May Day! May Day! I'm not crying for help - just calling attention to May Day. I'll skip dancing around the Maypole.

In the United States and Canada the official holiday for workers is Labor Day in September. May Day used to be the traditional day to honor labor but after the Haymarket Square riot in May, 1886,  President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots.  Labor now has its day in September but May Day still retains some of its links to labor albeit tinged with communist leanings.

In spite of any political implications, May 1 seems like a fitting day to muse about productivity. Productivity is defined as the amount of output per unit of input (code for labor) or the number of hours it takes to produce a good. In the service sector, it is measured by the amount of revenue generated by an employee divided by his/her salary. In other words, the more that employees work their butts off, the higher the productivity. One has to wonder, what happens to productivity when employees work themselves to death?  Dare I say that such an effort would lower productivity considering the time spent on replacing the employee. What about working one’s fingers to the bone? Obviously that would raise hell with health costs.  The more I think about it, working harder may not be the best the path to higher productivity. Working smarter is a much better alternative.

Speaking of working smarter, it goes hand in hand with thinking smarter. Labor should never forget that it achieved dignity only through the ability to organize against those who would abuse human rights. Now that sounds a bit like May Day.

No comments: