The holiday season is rolling in, which means it is an excellent opportunity to remember that the holidays people celebrate have roots in their culture or faith. They commemorate these events because they have personal significance. Similarly, the holidays you choose to celebrate in the workplace tell your employees what you value as an organization.
Having people of different backgrounds and cultures in one organization means there will also be a diversity of traditions that they are willing and unwilling to observe. Then, holiday party planning is not just a simple matter of saving dates and decorating the office. You need to be sensitive to the practices of your employees.
Opening a Discussion with Your Team
Celebrating some holidays and not others can make certain employees feel invisible and unappreciated. However, you will not know what holidays they prefer to celebrate until you take the time to ask them. Find out what events are important to each of your employees and work out how you can incorporate these into your company calendar.
You can even put together a planning committee composed of employees of different backgrounds to ensure you have a mix of input. Employ their support to create a calendar that indicates events that are important to your staff so that you can plan your celebrations accordingly.
You should also define your goal for celebrating certain holidays. Many take these parties as an opportunity to show gratitude to employees. If this is what you want to accomplish, you must prioritize them as you prepare for your workplace events.
Planning Your Holiday Parties Well
These are the key initial steps you should take to ensure inclusivity for the holiday season.
- Have optional gift exchanges
Especially for larger workplaces, you will have employees who are not keen on celebrating certain holidays. It is then better to make practices such as gift exchanges and Secret Santas optional. Still, open it for those who would like to participate in them.
For company gifts to the team, be mindful of the different faiths your team members are from. Avoid giving gifts that are visibly Christmas-themed, but instead, go for neutral and valuable presents that every employee can appreciate. Your employees are sure to enjoy practical items such as gift cards for fuel, bookstores, and even grocery stores.
- Attendance should be voluntary
Similarly, you should not make attendance at your holiday events mandatory. Holidays are often personal to your employees, so it is important that they have room to do as they see fit for these special occasions. Emphasize that their presence at your events is appreciated but not required.
Still, reach out to staff who are skipping the workplace festivities and send care packages or gifts in the mail. Communicate with employees who may need emotional support during the season and offer help where appropriate.
- Offer an assortment of dishes at your party
This aspect of party planning is often overlooked. However, your employees’ cultural or religious practices may keep them from eating certain foods.
Take note that you should check if some food items make certain people uncomfortable. For instance, some people’s faith practices make it offensive to put certain foods beside each other. Additionally, not everyone will be interested in drinking alcohol during the party.
Have a variety of dishes available to accommodate everyone’s food preferences. Take note of dietary restrictions for halal, kosher, and Buddhist practices, for example. Note if any of your team members are vegan or vegetarian, too.
- Put up mindful decorations
Inclusive party planning also means making sure your workplace decorations do not just cater to certain faiths. The most popular holiday decorations have ties to Christmas, such as trees with gifts and nativity sets. Even the colors red and green are usually tied to Christmas.
What you can do for your workplace is allow employees to decorate their own cubicles as they please. This offers them the freedom to express themselves at work and even allows for more discussion about the diversity of cultures in the team. However, make sure that the personal decorations they put up stay in their own areas and do not disrupt other teammates’ daily work and practices.
Improvement Is a Process
The reality of working towards a more inclusive workplace means that there will be instances where you will not make the right moves. However, what is important is that you take feedback and use it to improve as an organization. Remember that cultural and religious sensitivity is essential to make sure your employees feel valued as a part of your team.