The holidays are upon us, and companies are busily planning their holiday celebrations. Just don’t forget one very important issue – make them inclusive!
Now that most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, employees are looking forward to celebrating this holiday season in as normal a manner as possible.
If you’re helping plan your celebration, remember there are multiple cultural and religious traditions that occur during the end of the year. Focusing on one and ignoring the others may alienate some workers and cause hard feelings.
Inclusive company celebrations
The holiday season will shine a spotlight on just how inclusive your company truly is.
If you put up a Christmas tree, some people may take offense that their religious and cultural symbols aren’t displayed and celebrated. You want to avoid this.
So how do you throw an inclusive holiday party at the workplace?
Pick a date that isn’t a religious celebration
First and foremost, you want to pick a day for your celebration that isn’t a major religious holiday/celebration.
Consider holding a party in early January to celebrate the new year.
You can also hold an end-of-year party to celebrate all the company’s accomplishments throughout the year. Focusing on the company as a whole and what has been accomplished brings people together.
Don’t call it a holiday party
Calling your get-together a “holiday party” connotes Christmas to many people. It’s best to call it something totally different: End-of-year party, New Year celebration, XYZ’s employee celebration, Winter Gala, etc.
The key is you want the focus to be on the company and its employees, not a holiday.
Location, location, location
The location of your party is extremely important.
If it’s at the office, you know it’s accessible to everyone who works there. But what about the people who work offsite and out of state? Will you fly them in and put them up in a hotel or will you hold smaller remote soirees?
If you hold it at a facility other than your office, the same questions need to be asked.
To be inclusive, everyone must have the opportunity to be involved!
For decorations, think of a winter theme, like snowflakes and icicles, or a New Year theme, like balloons, streamers and confetti.
You can also go the way of employee appreciation decorations with ribbons, trophies, red carpet, etc.
Hold a potluck event
Encourage employees to bring their favorite food from their culture to share with everyone. Have them include a write-up on its ingredients and significance in their culture.
Most people enjoy trying new foods and learning about cultural traditions.
Think long and hard before including alcohol at your event.
If you decide you are going to serve alcohol, consider having a mocktail bar, too, suggests Cheri Garcia, founder & recruiter at Cornbread Hustle, a staffing agency for second chances.
Why? It’s more inclusive!
“One in six Americans suffer from alcohol use disorder. If you have 100 employees at a party six may be suffering in silence,” said Garcia. “[Mocktails] give people the opportunity to have a pretty drink in their hand, and they don’t have to resort to water or [soda].”
Instead, of doing Secret Santa gift exchanges, set up a winter-themed photo booth, or organize a trivia game or scavenger hunt based on the company.
There are lots of ways for companies to inclusively celebrate the holidays with their employees. You just have to think out of the Christmas box!