40-Hour Week: Show appreciation to working Americans

I can’t vent at the people who are working. They’re showing up and doing what they can, often working far more than a 40-hour week.

Katie Pinke explains how she plays the song 40 Hour Week by the country music band Alabama when she's frustrated by business employee shortages or ongoing delays in construction supplies in her own family business. Shown is James Horner of Pinke Lumber, Wishek North Dakota. Submitted photo

You can see them every morning
In the factories and the fields
In the city streets and the quiet country towns
Working together like spokes inside a wheel
They keep this country turning around

Today, rather than complain, show your appreciation to one worker you encounter. Then, try it again tomorrow says Katie Pinke as businesses face employee shortages. Photo taken at Tractor Supply in Grand Forks, N.D. (Katie Pinke / Agweek)

Do those lyrics sound familiar? In early June, Nathan and I attended an Alabama concert — one of my all-time favorite bands. The past few months, when traveling around the region, I’ve played that song — 40 Hour Week (For A Livin’) — when I get back in my car after seeing or experiencing an employee shortage. Forty Hour Week is an anthem to remind me to show appreciation instead of frustration.

There are people in this country who work hard every day
Not for fame or fortune do they strive
But the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay
And it’s time a few of them were recognized

That’s the opening of the 40 Hour Week song.


This is "for everyone who works behind the scenes with a spirit you can’t replace by no machine," says Katie Pinke, using Alabama's "40 Hour Week" song lyrics to highlight the appreciation we can show despite numerous businesses facing employee shortages and hiring. Katie Pinke / Agweek

To the front desk resort manager who watched her 17 summer foreign employees leave to fly home for school when I was checking out recently: I see you figuring out how four employees are going to clean 180 rooms before 200 more people check-in for a conference.

To the gas station clerk who came out of retirement to work extra shifts because there simply isn’t anyone else: Thank you for keeping your rural location open, and thank you for showing me where the air was to add some to my bum tire.

A gas station clerk explained to Katie Pinke that she came out of her retirement to work needed shifts as businesses face employee shortages. Katie Pinke / Agweek

To the quick service restaurant franchise owner delivering my curbside food order: I see your hustle. I see you picking up garbage in your parking lot on your way back inside to your hectic business.

To the new restaurant owner giving my husband and me a nod and smile to let us know you see us and will seat us as soon as you can: Do not quit on your business goals despite college students not applying for your job openings.

According to the Associated Builders and Contractors, construction companies need 430,000 more workers in 2021 than 2020 to meet demand. Shown is a high-school student and employee of Pinke Lumber of Wishek, North Dakota, working in the summer of 2021. Submitted photo

To the small business owner explaining to me why she was going to be closed for an extended weekend to give her staff a long-needed break: I respect you — and I bet your employees do too.


To the grocery store employees, the same three women I always see at Dollar General, the medical clinic staff, the teachers stepping in to coach so kids have the opportunity to participate this season and the substitute teachers showing up when a full-time teacher is out: This is

For everyone who works behind the scenes
With a spirit you can’t replace by no machine

While school clothes shopping with her daughters, Katie Pinke saw the hiring sign at a Columbia Mall retailer, Maurices, in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Show appreciation instead of frustration to those working in jobs while businesses struggle to fill open positions, says Pinke. Katie Pinke / Agweek

When I find myself impatient about a shipping delay, frustrated with ongoing construction supply and employee shortage issues that impact our family business or cynical when I read a letter from a business asking for patience in wait time for service, the song plays again through my head:

Hello America, let me thank you for your time

Many businesses you frequent are hiring. Show appreciation to the employees who are working in the businesses, hustling to overcome staffing and supply issues as best as they can, says Katie Pinke. Katie Pinke / Agweek

I can’t vent at the people who are working. They’re showing up and doing what they can, often working far more than a 40-hour week.

Add in an ongoing health pandemic and numerous personal and professional stressors — and we all feel it.


Today, rather than complain, show your appreciation to one worker you encounter. Then, try it again tomorrow. Hello America, let me thank you for your time.

To read more of Katie Pinke's The Pinke Post columns, click here.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

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