Working on Thanksgiving

Credit: Getty Images / Timothy A. Clary

Credit: Getty Images / Timothy A. Clary

Happy Thanksgiving, America ! A Federal Holiday since 1863, for many of us, Thanksgiving rhymes with home, family, turkey feast, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and football. It also marks the beginning of Christmas shopping, while being one of the busiest periods to travel in the USA. Before you start packing your bag and putting the turkey in the oven, let us take a moment to thank the brave workforce who will be working on this most cherished American holiday. 

According to Bloomberg BNA, 31% of American employees will be working on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's Day this year, so we can enjoy our time off with our loved ones. They work in various sectors such as : security and public safety/health (16%), service and maintenance (13%), technical (10%), managerial/supervisory (7%), production (7%) and sales/customer services (6%).

So who exactly are these people who keep our society stable while we enjoy a meal around a festive table? We identified five of them:

1. The Doctor and the Nurse

Illnesses and accidents do not take a break on holidays neither do doctors nor nurses. To reduce their workload, be aware of the top 4 things that could send you to the hospital this Thanksgiving: 

  1. Food poisoning: stay away from the turkey's danger zone: 39 to 140 degrees F.
  2. Heart issues: they are triggered by the high amount of sodium present in a typical Thanksgiving meal.
  3. Burns: they are due to the deep-fried turkey trend
  4. Car crash: As Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods, this is not surprising.

These will sure keep the doctors and nurses very busy. Stay safe, everyone !

2. The Retail Worker

For the few stores that are open on Thanksgiving, not only do retail workers have to miss their family gatherings, but they are also surrounded by continuous Christmas music. As we have reported in our article on music and mental health, too much Christmas music could negatively affect the retail workers' mental health. In an article published in the Harvard Business Review, Zeynep Ton argues that retail employees are worse off, since they are stuck working under pressure. Ton also points to the fact that "their schedules change all the time, often on short notice."  As a result, they are not able to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

3. The Police Officer and the Firefighter

On holidays, people tend to drink and travel more, which increases accident rates. Police officers and firefighters sacrifice their precious family time to respond to crisis and insure a safe environment for all. Avoiding drinking and driving as well as a deep-fried turkey installation is a good idea.

4. The IT Workforce

Websites and software never stop offering services and merchandise. The IT workforce makes them run smoothly to improve our online experience. They often have to work on unusual hours (before we are awake and after we go to sleep), and have to remain on-call to fix unforeseen bugs, technical issues, and complaints.

5. The Waiter and the Waitress

Thanksgiving is much busier than Christmas and New Year's Eve, as more families are starting to avoid the stress of cooking and cleaning for themselves.  An article published in Vice states that working in a restaurant on Thanksgiving is not a pleasant experience. The customers are generally grumpy and very critical of their meal, and the workforce has to deal with complains, and a stressful environment, while providing excellent customer service, with a smile.

As you prepare for Thanksgiving, what can you do to improve the experience of those who are working while you will be celebrating and giving thanks? Is there a way to improve their experience and work/life balance?