What’s Wrong with October 16th?

I was tasked to write a routine article about Boss’ Day. It should have been an easy project with a simple conclusion, yet I find myself on the fence. It’s an interesting “holiday” with polarizing opinions on the topic. As I did my due diligence weighing both sides of this controversial national day, I was surprised by my reaction to it. As I casually ventured into my research, I thought my opinion was set. Well, let’s dive into the intricacies of the lesser known holiday called Boss’ Day and come full circle to my conclusion.

Boss’ Day

National Boss's Day recognizes the hardworking boss overseeing the workplace, and employees across the United States show appreciation and thankfulness to their bosses. It is celebrated in order to strengthen employee/employer relationships as well as show appreciation.


Patricia Bays Haroski registered "National Boss' Day" with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1958. She was working as a secretary for State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Illinois for her father, at the time and chose October 16, which was her father's birthday. Haroski believed that young employees sometimes did not understand the hard work and dedication that their supervisors put into their work and the challenges they faced. Four years later, in 1962, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner backed Haroski's registration and officially proclaimed the day. Hallmark Cards got on board with Boss’ Day in 1979. It increased the size of its National Boss' Day line by 28 percent in 2007. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 23.8 million managers, first-line supervisors, and administrators in the American workforce in 2014.


Alison Green in U.S. News criticized it, saying "Traditional etiquette says quite clearly that any gift-giving in the workplace should be from a boss to an employee and not the other way around. The idea is that people shouldn't feel obligated to purchase gifts for someone who has power over their livelihood, and managers shouldn't benefit from the power dynamic in that way." The Society for Human Resource Management suggests having HR handle appreciation for supervisors may be more appropriate in large companies. It is safe to say the obligation of manager appreciation lies in the hands of upper management to properly recognize mangers from the top down with a company-wide lunch, a funny award, or celebratory email.


Some work dynamic experts disagree. They say a gift of appreciation should be personal and authentic rather than organizational. A gift is about knowing a manager and paying attention to the details of the person and not just the role. Considering only 34 percent of workers actually want to take on the tough task of being a manager. Frontline mangers and bosses are strangely the most underappreciated segment of employees. Middle management employees feel the squeeze from both sides with little recognition. It’s clear that bosses deserve a little recognition.

The good news is there can be easy ways to pull off a Boss’ Day gift without the workplace politics at play. Once a year, we can all agree to appreciate a person who may deserve a little thanks. One small gift or thoughtful gesture will not change the power dynamic of the workplace environment. We all need to feel valued and appreciated as people. You may not agree or understand your boss’ methods, but they are part of your world, your tribe. Your personal ecosystem is filled with people who need your consideration and cultivation. So, come October 16th take a moment to extend appreciation to the person that plays the role of boss in your life.