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Four Ways to Practice Inclusiveness During the Holidays

The holiday season can be a tough time for employers to navigate. To make everyone on your team feel included and unpressured, focus your celebrations on showing your appreciation.

By Rebecca Hawk

The holidays provide a time to come together and celebrate—but many employers are unsure of how to create a holiday workplace atmosphere that’s inclusive of everyone on their staff. To prioritize inclusivity, try reframing your holiday celebration as a time to thank your team for all they do throughout the year.

Here are four ways to foster an inclusive, positive holiday workplace environment.

Ask employees what they want. When in doubt, ask your staff for their opinions. If you have a party-planning committee, make sure it comprises employees with various backgrounds and religious beliefs. Ask employees about what kinds of activities, if any, they’d enjoy participating in, and find out what dates and times work best for their schedules.

If you have a holiday party, plan it with care. Make your party non-denominational, and make sure that staff know that attendance and any activities involved are completely optional. Consider scheduling the event at a less busy time of the year or at a time that doesn’t overlap with a specific holiday. Some organizations, for example, opt for a celebration that falls close to New Year’s so that they can avoid scheduling conflicts for employees and can frame the event as an occasion to think about the organization’s vision for the coming year and to say thank you for the staff’s hard work.

Gestures of appreciation for your employees’ hard work go a long way—and so will respect for their different cultures and traditions.

Offer extra flexibility if possible. If your organization gives employees time off for some religious holidays but not others, consider offering flexible holiday leave that employees can put toward the holidays they celebrate. (According to a 2017 SHRM survey [PDF], only 30 percent of organizations offer floating holidays.) In addition, recognize that the holidays can be stressful for many staff members, so try to take a well-rounded approach to productivity during the busy season. Also consider giving staff some wiggle room to attend spouses’ holiday parties or their children’s school events, or to allow for extra travel time to visit family.

Adopt an open, learning-focused perspective. To truly foster an inclusive workplace during the holidays, encourage employees to share how they celebrate with one another. You can create a structured event, like a potluck, to cultivate sharing, or simply encourage your department heads and employees to read up on holidays different from their own.

Gestures of appreciation for your employees’ hard work go a long way—and so will respect for their different cultures and traditions. Allow your team to guide your holiday planning, and turn the focus from celebrating a season to celebrating their accomplishments.

Rebecca Hawk is the marketing specialist for Association CareerHQ at ASAE Business Services, Inc. Email: [email protected]

Diversity and Inclusion Employee Policies Organizational Culture