How Can I Make Sure Everyone Feels Included in the Office During the Holidays?

christmasThere’s a lot going on during that time between US’s Thanksgiving and New Year when nearly every culture has secular and/or holidays they’re celebrating. While many traditions share things in common, it’s been all too long that everyone else’s winter holidays get overlooked. Almost all our imagery and vocabulary is just about Christmas. But between Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Omisoka and Chinese New Year – just to name a few – we’re forgetting that a majority of the world has other holidays around Christmas time. Which means we’re definitely forgetting some of our employees when we choose to do things like personalized employee Christmas gifts and office Christmas parties.

Does it sound daunting to try and accommodate for nearly 6 months of major holidays between all the people in your office? It’s actually not that bad – inclusivity is about becoming more accessible by becoming more vague. The less specific your office parties, decorations and gifts are, the more inclusive they become. So, you don’t have to be that creative to come up with inclusive office holiday solutions; you just have to be flexible.

10 Ways to Make Holidays Fun for Everyone at the Office

  1. Be aware. Do some research on all the things going on in December besides just Christmas.
  2. Just ask. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions on what’s appropriate and what all your employees want the holidays to be. In fact, it’s thoughtful and respectful. Not to mention it takes all the guesswork out.
  3. Schedule ahead. Update the office-wide calendar with all the relevant holidays your employees want to have acknowledged and be flexible about people taking time off at different times than others.
  4. Celebrations should be voluntary. Make any and all holiday events voluntary. There are a number of reasons people may not want to go to the celebrations of holidays foreign to or in contrast with theirs.
  5. Gifts should be optional. Make any gift-giving games or events optional, and also put a cap on what people can spend so it is accessible to everyone but not pressured.
  6. Keep colors neutral. Either stick with the snow and ice theme, or just get festive and go with all colors of the rainbow! Avoid red and green because it’s specific to Christmas.
  7. Consider alternate events. What about, instead of a holiday-themed party, you just all go out to a nice dinner together? Or all go perform some charitable service in your shared hometown.
  8. Become office foodies. Would your employees enjoy making and trying dishes from every culture present within the team? On each holiday, people could bring in food relevant to that place or day for a potluck office lunch. Make sure to respect cultural differences in food consumption, like how Hindu people don’t eat beef and Muslims don’t eat pork.
  9. Wait until next year. Consider discussing with everyone waiting to have an office celebration until after New Year, when most of the hustle and bustle of the holidays has died down.
  10. Get some feedback. Every year, after the holidays are over, take an office-wide survey on how everyone felt about your holiday policies. This will help you make the holidays better and better each year.

With a little bit of effort on your part as a manager, and a lot of cooperative, community experiences, you’ll find these strategies will do good things for your workplace culture year-round.