7 Ways to Host More Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace

Published On: November 29, 2022|Categories: Employers|
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Navigating the holiday season can pose unique challenges to employers, most commonly the question of whether or not to allow your employees to celebrate holidays and cultural differences in the workplace.

Do you strive to integrate cultural inclusivity so your employees feel seen and safe? That might work even better than you can imagine, or it could result in an HR-level offense.

Do you just keep the work environment utterly devoid of anything holiday-related? This would likely prevent personal offenses from occurring, but also might make the office feel too sterile.

These two questions and more are turning in the minds of employers and team leaders everywhere during this time of year, and we’re here to help you out.

In this article, we’re going to explain why integrating holiday cultural differences in the workplace during the holiday season is important, as well as give you seven of the best ways to do so.

The importance of inclusivity

Addressing and celebrating holiday differences in the workplace can be intimidating, especially when those differences surround values as deeply personal as religion and holidays. 

As a result, many supervisors shy away from attempting any sort of external inclusivity (such as decorations, gifts and food) and simply keep the office a neutral, holiday-free environment.

While this might seem like a simple solution, it’s one that takes a toll on the well-being of your employees. The holidays can be stressful and painful, and work is often the last activity most people want to be doing at the end of the year. Now more than ever, they need a morality boost.

Walking into a work environment each day that, in some way, celebrates your culture or holiday values is one of the best ways to do that.

How to celebrate cultural differences in the workplace

The first thing to know about handling holidays properly in the workplace is that it’s best executed by a diverse planning committee, rather than a single person. This increases the likelihood of successfully hosting unique cultural differences in the workplace.

1. Embrace traditions equally

It’s important to realize that you may have never heard of a holiday that is central to several of your employees’ lives, but that doesn’t make the holiday any less valid or worthy of recognition. Opening your mind and striving to keep bias on the backburner will enable you to embrace traditions equally and better support and uplift your staff.

2. Collect employee feedback

While having a designated committee is important, the opinion of the rest of your employees is equally as essential to successfully celebrating cultural differences in the workplace. One of the easiest ways to collect these opinions is to ask each employee to fill out a simple questionnaire (no more than five questions), either on paper or through email. 

3. Keep it simple

You don’t want to dive too deeply into different cultural and religious holidays. Not only because there may be variations in celebrations and beliefs, but because new celebrations that are too heavily authentic may dissuade people who are unfamiliar with the practices from attending.

4. Don’t bring gifts into it

Gift-giving can sometimes be awkward amongst people you know and love, let alone your coworkers. For holidays where gift-giving is a central theme, consider integrating it into the decorations or food, rather than requiring your employees to buy gifts for each other.

5. Never require participation

Some employers mistake inclusivity to be the same as mandatory participation, but they’re not similar. At the heart of inclusive holiday festivities is the purpose of creating a warm and welcoming experience that invites everyone to learn and gain a new appreciation for different cultures and celebrations. Requiring participation cancels that out.

It also violates certain peoples’ beliefs, such as the Jehovah’s Witness community that doesn’t practice holidays. Emphasize to your team that this is for fun, for education, for connection but that attendance is entirely voluntary and not attending won’t be held against them.

6. Offer extra flexibility

If your company gives employees the opportunity to take the standard major holidays off but not other religious or cultural holidays, you have a great opportunity to practice true inclusivity. Extend flexible holiday leave that employees can put towards and receive during the holidays they genuinely want to take off, not just the ones that perhaps most of the office is celebrating.

7. Seek professional resources

When in doubt, the best thing you can do is seek out the proper education by reaching out for professional help.

Here at Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP, we’re here to provide you with a wide variety of resources in addition to high-quality service so that you can better serve and lead your teams in the workplace.

Submit a form or give us a call anytime at 800-543-5080.

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