On the 1st of May, much of the world celebrates one of the most important days for humanity: labor day. More than 150 years ago, workers started to fight for their rights and that’s why it is important to stop to think about this date.
The 1st of May is not really about work per se, it is about rights. Everything started in Australia. There, in 1856, stonemasons protested what they deemed were untenable labor conditions. Because of that, they had an agreement that led to the establishment of the eight-hour working day.
After that, around the world, different workers searched for the same. In May 1886, in the US, where celebrates this day on September instead of May, “a violent crackdown on protesters in Chicago – known as the Haymarket affair – saw numerous deaths and injuries after a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour work day. This led to the Second International in Paris calling for demonstrations to be held in its memory four years later”, remembered Euronews. “By the end of the 19th century, many European countries had taken inspiration and Worker’s Day had gone global”, concluded this media.
More than a century of achievements
After these first steps, around the world, the rights were growing up. In 1889, Germany was an example of social security. In 1894, New Zealand established a minimum wage. France, in 1936, because of the Matignon Agreements, became the first country to offer paid vacations in the world.
The establishment of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1919 set a precedent. In 1946, after the second world war, “the ILO became a specialized agency of the newly formed United Nations”. Also in those years, the so-called second-generation rights became universal. Their focus was on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights like the right to work and free choice of them, under “just and favorable conditions”, with the right to form and join trade unions (Articles 6, 7, and 8) and the right to the social security, including social insurance (Article 9).
Then, the rights changed its focus on inclusion. Sweden was the first country that offered maternity leave in 1955, thinking in women. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson sign the Civil Right act, that forbid sexual and racial discrimination at work. In 1974, again Sweden was the first country to allow paternity leave.
Nowadays, the rights are still changing. Technology brought new challenges. Last decade, Europe and US signed agreements about privacy and data protection for workers. Another point is about home office and remote work, which are arguing around the world. As we see, there are always rights to get and there are always raising new ones. Life can be better.
What do workers actually want?
When we think about work today, we can see a lot of innovation from employers. Human Resources Departments are developing strategies for employees’ wellness. Also, different companies offer spaces with games, to take rest, flexible schedules and educational programs. Nevertheless, there are some questions that are trendy around the world: How can companies keep the talent? What do workers really want?
Oriol Montayá, a professor from UPF Barcelona School of Management, did research about it. He made a parallel with Andrew Maslow’s psychological theory. This psychologist developed his theory about human motivation and put five types of necessities starting from the basics to the most aspirational. Thus Maslow’s famous pyramid was born. Physiological needs are at the base, safety needs after, love and belonging in the middle, esteem almost up, and self-actualization at the top.
Applying this theory to workers and talent, the priorities change, but not significantly. Following a survey from Randstand in 2022, 68% of workers choose the salary as the most important aspect of working. Without competitive salary politics, it is impossible to think further.
After this basis, the research mentioned the relationship between security perception and career plans. The future, in different terms, cannot be left aside. If these two requirements are covered, the third is related to social life. That means a good balance with free and family time. So, we are talking about schedule flexibility.
Keep moving forward, we have the fourth step: esteem. These necessities are linked with leadership. Having a skilled and trained leader with humanist management help to conserve talent. Finally, we have self-actualization. In labor terms, this means “a good internal promotion policy that fosters meritocracy and supports internal talent”, wrote Montayá.
As we see, having Ping-Pong, puffs or other innovations have not been mentioned. They are less important than the five necessities and desires we numbered. A decent salary, career plan, good working hours, competent manager and internal promotion are first if an employer wants to keep the talent and motivation and to be competitive with other companies. In the end, it’s all about going back to basics.