Back in the day, it was exceedingly common for businesses to have Christmas parties, give out Christmas bonuses, and send out Christmas wishes to their employees. Today’s workforce is becoming increasingly more diverse, and those changes have an impact on the holiday season. Now, depending on where December falls in the lunar calendar, other cultural holidays can include:
- Eid al-Fitr, Ramadan’s festival of gift-giving (Muslim)
- Hanukkah (Jewish)
- Kwanzaa (African-American)
- Pancha Ganapati (Hindu)
- Yule (Pagan)
To keep from alienating employees and to help manage the variety of holidays and celebrations that accompany the end of the year, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Include Everyone
Instead of hosting a Christmas party, invite all your employees to celebrate “the holidays,” and put the focus on happiness, hope, peace, the spirit of giving, and the importance of friends and family.
- Show Respect
Most winter holidays are based on a religious belief, so if you’re not careful with your communications and wording, you could inadvertently offend some employees. Be aware of the decorations your company uses (e.g., a nativity scene) and be mindful that not everyone celebrates the same way. While it’s probably easiest to just refrain from using religious decorations altogether, they can still be part of a multicultural environment with the caveat that you must ensure all religions are represented. A straightforward way to be inclusive of winter holidays could be with a potluck lunch where contributors make a holiday dish from their culture.
- Be Accommodating
In a multi-cultural workplace, employees will have unique needs for their holiday celebrations and observations. Offer floating religious holidays or provide flextime that employees can use on days of observance that might not be part of the company’s holiday calendar.
- Be Thoughtful
If you do have a holiday party, provide non-alcoholic beverages for guests who don’t imbibe, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. And don’t just offer bottled water in lieu of booze. Create a custom mocktail and offer juices and mixers. When it comes to the food, a veggie tray or salad for the non-meat eaters could look like an afterthought. Plenty of catering companies offer vegan and vegetarian options so take advantage of a few menu items.
- Don’t Make Festivities Mandatory
Be sure to offer your employees an out from participating. Some are energized by the liveliness of a holiday party, but others find it exhausting and would rather stay home and re-charge their batteries. If some teams give gifts to each other or gather money for a gift card or nonprofit remember that some folks’ finances might be stretched thin, especially around the holidays. Make sure that everybody knows it’s perfectly okay to say no.
- Communication is Key
The best way to ensure inclusiveness is to keep your lines of communication open. Form a holiday committee made up of a cross-section of employees when you start planning. Encourage everyone to share holiday traditions, decorations and meals.
Remember, the holidays are meant to be a time for friends and family; a season of happiness and giving. Holiday celebrations and decorations should enrich the spirit of the season, not detract from it.
For more free resources and tools that promote DE&I best practices in the workplace, visit Perspectives+. It’s Paycor’s online knowledge library designed to help our partner network drive change, empower colleagues, and foster new leaders.