The holidays can be a joyous time for many people around the world. The holiday season is typically associated with spending time with family and friends and taking a break from work to celebrate what you believe in. However, the celebrations that are highlighted in the workplace can often feel exclusive and therefore retract from warm feelings at the root of these observances. For example, “the office” will typically host a Christmas Party at the end of December, taking the emphasis off other holidays that fall around this same time and throwing them on the back burner of recognition. Many holidays revolve around faith-based or cultural beliefs and leaving some holidays out of the celebratory spotlight can cause employees to feel uncomfortable and belittled when certain holidays receive more attention than others. Recognizing the backgrounds of all employees helps create a culture of belonging and how you choose to celebrate the holidays at work strongly impacts employee experience.
So, what can you do this holiday season to positively impact work culture? Think to yourself:
· How are you creating a culture of inclusion?
· Are you providing DEI education opportunities in the office that encompass the relevant holidays?
· Are you in touch with your employees and coworkers’ beliefs and what they are celebrating this year?
One suggestion to get on track with improving company culture around the holidays would be to send out an optional survey asking what cultural celebrations are important to everyone. This will help you understand the demographic of celebrations and emphasize the importance of employee recognition, creating opportunities for cultural growth.
Another idea would be to take the emphasis off celebrating a specific holiday and, instead, hosting a more inclusive party such as a New Year’s celebration or a potluck that celebrates the holidays from the past few months. You can encourage employees to bring decorations or dishes from their faith, culture, or family traditions to further build cultural knowledge among your people.
It is important to value different life experiences, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, so finding a way for these personal values to transcend into the workplace creates a feeling of respect and belonging. Making a more inclusive organization is about not just employees, but leaders throughout the organization adopting new mindsets, changing behaviors, and learning to operate and adapt to new and different systems. Create a workspace where everyone in the office is encouraged to learn about different cultures through educational opportunities. Encouraging DEI education and making it easily accessible not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year, affirms that your organization understands the importance of cultural inclusivity. Some suggestions for workplace DEI opportunities would be to schedule monthly guest speakers on DEI topics, hosting voluntary conversations around difficult topics to support your people and create an understanding for allies, and inviting the office to join in for outside activities such as parades and festivals that highlight the cultural beliefs important to those in the workplace. When people feel recognized, they are more likely to be innovative, engaged, and collaborative. This holiday season, do your part in focusing on your people and their beliefs, traditions, and values to create a more positive workplace culture around the holidays.