Labor Day Highlights Globalization

Labor Day, September 2 this year, is a holiday in the United States respect by many businesses outside of retail (do they respect any holidays?), but it is not a holiday outside of the United States.  And in this increasingly global world we live in, the chance to take your national holidays can no longer be taken for granite.  That fact was brought home to me this year by two major deals in my industry, both announced on Labor Day.

These two deals have the potential to change the face of the wireless telecommunications industry.  The Verizon deal, once closed, will be the largest acquisition ever.  It also leaves a lot of questions about its soon to be ex-partner Vodafone.  Will Vodafone use the cash from the deal to become a buyer in Europe, or will the sale of its largest assets and the distribution of half the deal value to its shareholders (in the form of Verizon stock) make Vodafone a target to be bought.

The other deal was small potatoes by comparison.  Microsoft announced it will acquire Nokia for $7.2B. (Can you believe $7.2B is “small”?) While Microsoft’s operating system market share is small and Nokia has had big trouble making the jump to smart phones, bringing the two together puts Microsoft in direct competition with Apple, that also has hardware and software, and Samsung.  It will be interesting to see how Google and Samsung react.  Google acquired Motorola’s handset business and recently released its own phone.  This will put Samsung in an interesting position.  They are the strongest smart phone competitor to Apple, but they are also the only manufacturer without its own software as they use Android from Google.  If Google pushes too hard on its own handsets, does that leave Samsung out to dry?  This industry has seen tremendous change in the last five years since Apple launched the iPhone and it doesn’t look like that drive for change will go away anytime soon.

So what does this mean about holidays?  Is the era of different national holidays dead?  The answer is probably yes.  Years ago my company recognized ten holidays (including banking holidays like President’s day).  We are currently down to six, but thanks to the labor union representing over half of our employees the “lost” four holidays were converted to personal days you could take whenever you wanted to instead of being specifically designated.  And that may be the answer to all holiday’s in the future.  Instead of being told to take off specific days, you are given a pool of days (in addition to vacation time) to take off when you want.  If you want Labor Day off, great, take it.  If you want Christmas off, take it.  But if you would rather take days off for Passover or Ramadan, use your days off for those instead.

In a truly global world, this may be the only solution for employers.

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