With the holiday season in full swing, now is an especially important time to encourage a sense of belonging and honor your employee’s diverse identities. After all, how you opt to celebrate holidays in the workplace impacts your culture and employee experience. 

Since many holidays are centered around faith-based or cultural beliefs, employees can feel uncomfortable or excluded when some celebrations get more attention than others. Ignoring individuals’ backgrounds and identities can lead to employee disengagement and negatively impact your business performance. 

When considering which celebrations to observe or add to your calendar this year, you’ll want to first understand what holidays are important to your employees. Since you don’t want to make assumptions about their preferences, it’s essential to take an objective approach and collect data. There are many ways to incorporate the data-capturing process to your organization, whether it’s sending out a quick pulse survey or adding it to your quarterly/annual reviews. Some quick questions to ask your employees include: 

  1. What would you like to see recognized in the office? 
  2. What cultural celebrations are important to you?

In addition to employee contributions, you’ll want to partner with your HR, DEI committee, and leadership team to consider official observances since there could be different legal ramifications and considerations surrounding holidays depending on the state you’re in.

The next step after finalizing your holiday plans is communicating the observances to employees. Make sure to prepare managers with the right inclusive language to explain what’s happening, which could include guidelines or a script that they can use to speak about new holidays. 

Encourage employees to also get involved in the process by planning multicultural events that share and educate their colleagues on the holidays they celebrate. Employees should also be given the opportunity to give suggestions throughout the year on how to observe day- or month-long celebrations, whether it’s pride month, Black history month, Ramadan, or more. 

Since the most essential part of holiday planning is honoring individual experiences, all celebrations should be truly optional and communicate with employees that they are under no obligation to attend. 

Building a culture of inclusion around the holiday season is an ongoing process that requires you to continually review and improve your observances. Since it’s important that this becomes part of your long-term organizational goals, add your holiday calendar review to your DEI strategy so that you keep it top of mind.

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