Why holiday inclusivity is a gift to your business

It can be tricky knowing how to navigate the holiday season. But with a bit of thought, workplace celebrations can be beneficial to your staff and your business…

Wednesday, Nov 17, 2021
3 min read

Think about it. We’re used to seeing the workplace dotted with Christmas trees and baubles. But have you ever decorated your building with a rangoli? Or spun a dreidel with one of your employees?

The simple act of recognising your team’s preferred holidays can go a long way. At its core, respecting your staff’s beliefs lets them know that you value them and their position in your company.

And that feels great for them, and it also means good news for your business. Let’s explore why…

How is celebrating diverse holidays equally good for my business?

When staff see their heritage celebrated at work, they’re more likely to feel respected and content in their role. And when employees are happy at work they stick around longer—which means staff turnover goes down.

It goes beyond just the individual, though. The best way to learn about a person’s culture is to talk to that person, and communally celebrating diverse cultures lays down a foundation of respect and understanding for your other staff to build on.

So, by taking the initiative to celebrate a culture, you encourage healthy conversation about that culture between your staff.

And when your team share personal experiences, they’re not just learning about one another—they’re build a trusting relationship. And when your staff trust each other, they work better together.

Which is exactly what you want, because diverse teams are more creative, more attractive to new prospects, and more profitable. Plus, their unique perspectives give them an enhanced ability to capture new cultural markets.

Cool, so how do I make sure I’m celebrating holidays right?

It might be daunting at first to celebrate different cultures in your workplace, because you don’t want to unintentionally offend anyone.

But here’s the thing—you don’t have to be perfect. The important thing is to show genuine, thoughtful interest in your staff’s beliefs and traditions.

So, with that in mind, we’ve got a few tips to help you get started…

1. Speak to your staff

The first thing you should do is ask your team what’s important to them.

A diverse workforce doesn’t necessarily translate into diversity in workplace celebrations, so find out what your staff value, then celebrate accordingly.

It doesn’t have to be a religious holiday either. Global events like Black History Month are incredibly significant for some, and many people would want it at least to be acknowledged.

It’d be a good idea to incorporate diversity questions into your standard workplace processes. Onboarding is the perfect opportunity, for example.

2. Encourage group participation

Don’t leave organising events to just one person. You should encourage all staff at all levels to express which holidays they’d like to celebrate, and how.

Because, besides being much more fun, getting everyone involved helps to promote a culture of tolerance and understanding.

3. Keep attendance optional

As much as you should encourage everyone to participate, you need to keep your celebrations optional.

Some people don’t want to celebrate holidays, and that’s ok. It’s completely their choice if they’d rather not join in.

4. Don’t exclude anyone based on their religion

Religion is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, so excluding someone based on their religion is a big no-no.

Look to Odeon for an example of what not to do. They lost a 2014 employment law case after a staff member wasn’t invited to a Christmas party because they were Muslim.

5. Be aware of religious festivals and customs

Religious discrimination doesn’t have to be as outright as that last example.

You could find yourself at risk of discrimination for simply overlooking a religious holiday. For example, if you organise a meal with your workmates during Ramadan, Muslim team members won’t be able to go if they’re fasting.

6. Be mindful of alcohol

Your staff could be avoiding alcohol for religious reasons, or it could be a personal choice.

It’s best to do your research before opening-up the bar, and always have non-alcoholic options available.

7. Remember, Christmas isn’t a dirty word

Don’t feel like you have to remove Christmas all together. It’s still an important holiday for a lot of people and removing it does nothing to promote inclusivity and diversity.

8. Prepare for a hectic season of annual leave requests

From Diwali to Christmas to the Lunar New Year, there are loads of different festive holidays that happen during winter.

So, it’s important you have a robust holiday management system in place to handle the inevitable avalanche of holiday requests.

That’s why you need BrightHR. Our smart holiday planning software makes managing any combination of annual leave requests a doddle.

It sends you instant notifications whenever an employee requests time off, and even flags any potential holiday clashes—so you never have to worry about being understaffed at your busiest time of year.

Want to see our holiday management software in action? Book a free demo today.

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