As the year winds down, we approach the holidays and what some businesses may call the December dilemma: how to create an inclusive holiday workplace? The way you choose to celebrate holidays can have a huge impact on your company’s culture and employee experience. Think of the holidays as a time for connection and appreciation amongst your team.
Remember that actions speak louder than words. Small business owners need to make decisions aligned with the company’s stated values. If diversity, equity, and inclusion are part of your values, use the holiday season to showcase that.
Here are some best practices we recommend for inclusive holiday celebrations in the workplace.
Start with Respect:
Make sure all employees feel respected, valued, and heard. Focus on making each member of the team feel that they belong and that their presence is valued. Consider how you can encourage employees to share with you what holidays or celebrations are important to them. Creating a safe space for open dialogue can go a long way for an inclusive company culture, even well beyond the holidays. Allow people to voice discomfort or share suggestions. Don’t make assumptions about what your employees feel an inclusive holiday looks and feel like, ask them!
A great way to foster respect and listen to your team is with our Employee Culture and Engagement Survey. Inspiring HR partners with company leaders to build a survey that asks the right questions to get an accurate pulse check. Reach out to your consultant today to get started.
Allow those with different beliefs to celebrate in a way that aligns with their culture. For example, is their major holiday not during the end of the year? Consider how you can be inclusive year-round. Have policies in place to provide reasonable accommodation for employees’ religious beliefs, as long as it doesn’t cause undue hardship on the business (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). Maybe consider how you can offer flexible time off, such as floating holidays. Find more tips about how to handle holiday PTO.
Watch Your Words:
Be mindful of the language used in holiday policies and company communications. This can extend beyond the workplace as you think about customer experiences. You want to avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable. Acknowledge holidays of all cultures! You may also consider keeping things generic by focusing on the end of the year or the holiday season as a whole.
Keep in mind those who may be feeling less than jolly this year and consider how to support employees having a hard holiday season.
Learn From Each Other:
Make the holidays a time to deepen connections and bond with your team. One idea is to host a potluck where people can bring different foods that are special to them during this time of year. Not only does this help make an inclusive holiday workspace but it helps boost company culture when employees feel seen. A planning committee can help people feel included in the holiday party process.
One big no-no when it comes to an inclusive holiday workspace is to have Christmas in disguise (for example calling a Christmas tree a “holiday tree”). It’s fine to acknowledge Christmas and use those decorations but don’t stop there. Add other decorations too so it’s not focused on one holiday. Another option is to decorate with festive colors of all kinds or opt for a winter theme, focusing on snowflakes and stars. Here’s a great opportunity to invite team members to bring in decorations that are important to them.
The end of the year can be a wonderful time for company camaraderie, and with these tips, you can create a fun and inclusive holiday workspace. Whatever holidays you and your team are celebrating this year, we hope they’re happy ones!
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