In the past, winter holiday celebrations were largely centered around Christmas, but this can be problematic in the modern workplace. There are many secular and religious holidays that fall in December, which means that employees are celebrating lots of different things around this time of the year. America’s workforce is becoming increasingly diverse, but that is certainly no reason to shy away from holiday celebrations altogether.
Here are some suggestions on how to embrace diversity and inclusion during the holidays and make workplace celebrations enjoyable for everyone in your office.
Benefits of Inclusive Holiday Celebrations
Intolerance and misunderstandings commonly arise during the winter holiday season because of different religious and cultural traditions that are important to different employees. But rather than avoiding festivities, companies can look to this season as a way to bring employees closer together and gain a better understanding of each other’s beliefs.
Diversity and inclusion during the holidays can be celebrated by learning about various holidays and highlighting unique practices and their significance. When a workplace strengthens its employee connections around greater mutual understanding and respect, these relationships can last all throughout the year and lead to improved cooperation on team projects and greater overall productivity.
Add Diversity to Decorations
Commercial stores are packed with Christmas decorations around this time of the year but steer your office decorating scheme away from Santa and religious figures. Instead, stick to neutral winter themes, such as snowflakes, glitter, balloons, and confetti. Even if your employees don’t say anything aloud, decorations can have a big impact on how welcome they feel at a holiday party and at your company in general.
Watch the Calendar When Scheduling
As an employer, it is important to educate yourself about the dates of various winter holidays so that you don’t accidentally plan your holiday celebration on a day that is reserved for religious gatherings or family time. Some holidays occur on the same day each year, making them easy to remember, while other holidays change dates annually. Some holidays to plan around include Bodhi Day, Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, and the Lunar New Year.
Put Together a Planning Committee
Diversity and inclusion during the holidays can also be accomplished by putting together a diverse planning committee in your office that is made up of employees from different backgrounds. Rather than trying to navigate holiday inclusion all on your own, delegate some responsibility and trust the wisdom of your employees to make party decisions that consider everyone’s traditions.
Encourage Employees to Share Their Traditions
Another way to get valuable holiday-related input from your employees is to encourage them to share about the holidays they celebrate through food, music, and rituals. Invite employees to offer their anonymous feedback about the company’s past holiday celebrations to learn about how to improve them and make them more inclusive in the future.
Have a Neutral Happy Holidays Multicultural Party Setting
To keep your holiday party inclusive, consider hosting it in a neutral environment that is welcoming and comfortable for everyone. For example, NYC Office Suites offers meeting and conference rooms that are perfect for holiday events and conveniently located in vibrant Midtown Manhattan. These event rooms are affordable for your company’s holiday budget too, starting at just $42 per hour as part of a package or $69 on demand.
Allow Employees to Opt-Out without Judgment
While holiday celebrating is fun for many employees, others choose not to celebrate holidays at all based upon their beliefs. Be respectful of this and never make a holiday celebration mandatory. Also, ensure that your employees know not to pressure others to participate in festivities or make them feel guilty for not joining in.
Enjoy Diversity Holiday Foods
Food is something that we all can enjoy, regardless of our backgrounds or beliefs. This is why food-centric celebrations are great for workplace holiday events. Diversity holidays can be celebrated by hosting a potluck and asking employees to bring in a favorite dish that they love for a holiday of their choice. This is a wonderful way for employees to learn about different types of cuisine and other cultures in a fun and non-threatening way.
Provide Alcohol Alternatives
While some winter holiday celebrations revolve around alcoholic beverages, many of your employees may choose not to drink based upon religious, health, or personal reasons. Therefore, avoid hosting your office holiday party at a bar or club where alcohol is the main focus. You can also host a two-part party in which the first part is alcohol-free and the after-party involves going out for cocktails at a different location.
Gift Exchanges Should Be Optional
Workplace gift exchanges can be polarizing, as employees tend to either love them or hate them. Many companies are forgoing “white elephant” gift exchanges entirely these days in an attempt to not have employees offended by what they receive or put a strain on their employees’ budgets. Alternatively, your office holiday planning committee can offer a voluntary gift exchange for anyone who wants to participate with no obligation.
Choose a Diverse Music Playlist
Like food, music is another fun way to embrace workplace diversity around the holidays. Although you hear Christmas music played all over the radio and in stores, broaden your horizons and play festive music from other cultures as well at holiday events. Classical and jazz tunes are always great options for your party playlist.
Allow Employees to Bring Their Families
Across all cultures, holiday traditions focus on families, so make an effort not to pull your employees away from their family obligations too much. You can also encourage your employees to bring their families to your year-end office event to create a family-friendly environment and get everyone involved.
Volunteer Together for Charity
One of the best ways that you and your office staff can bond over the holidays is to volunteer for a good cause. As a traditional holiday party alternative or in addition to your holiday party, you could arrange to all volunteer together at a local soup kitchen, clothing donation facility, after-school youth program, or other nonprofit organization. Working together for the betterment of the community is a way to make everyone feel more generous and connected around the holidays.
Host Celebrations Throughout the Year
Finally, it’s important to remember that there are holidays all throughout the year and not just in December! Rather than focusing all of your holiday planning attention on this season, spread your festivities out during the year to recognize and learn about other significant holidays too.
At NYC Office Suites, we love helping companies best serve the needs of their employees, whether it’s through holiday event preparations, convenient office space when you need it, or virtual office solutions for modern businesses. Contact us to learn more!