Often times, the mention of December will most likely be identified with Christmas – lights go up, grottos come out, employers across all sectors begin preparing for the rush of commercialism that accompanies this time of year.
But in reality, Christmas is just one of many festivities that is celebrated in December. And yet many companies will adopt this tunnel vision towards the Christian holiday and fail to acknowledge any others, despite the fact that their workforce could be made up of a diverse mix of team members who may have varying beliefs and traditions.
To be an inclusive employer, this requires recognizing that the holidays are woven with many varying celebrations. By doing so, you will be able to strengthen the interpersonal connections and increase collaboration amongst colleagues, which will create connectedness with your team as a whole.
There are many ways to start doing this – the simplest of them being fostering an environment where cross-cultural differences and similarities are regularly discussed – especially during holidays. Encouraging team members to share their beliefs means that others will know how best to greet them during this festive time. If team members know that their colleague is Jewish, they will make that effort to wish them a Happy Hanukkah, and if they know someone is Christian, they will say Merry Christmas. Or, if there are members of staff who celebrate nothing at this time, then a neutral ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Season’s Greetings’ will suffice.
Similarly, if leaders are taking the time to get to know their team members on a personal level, their team members are going to feel seen, valued and heard, and this leads to feeling a sense of belonging. A sense of belonging is the gift that keeps on giving, and will in turn motivate team members to be talent scouts who invite those they care about to join their place of employment; the thought of quiet quitting will never even cross their mind.
Inclusivity in the holidays comes down to taking the time to know what is going on, know your team members, and making sure your team members know each other, too. December hosts Bodhi Day for those who are Buddhist, Winter Solstice for those who are Pagan, Hannukah for Jewish employees, Christmas for Christian employees and Kwanzaa for African American employees who celebrate this.
When decorating the office, there is no harm in pulling inspiration from all of these festivities – tinsel, menorah’s (although, for health and safety, not lit) and harvest baskets can make anyone celebrating feel that little bit more included, and this is a great way of keeping engagement and morale up during a particularly busy time of year for business.
It is about bridging that gap between tolerance and acceptance. Leaders do not want their team members feeling as if they are tolerant of their different beliefs, they want them to feel like they are accepted and respected in their workplace. Encouraging the team to get to know each other and ask how they would like to be greeted this holiday season will help solidify this acceptance mindset in your culture, and this will be a greatly positive force going forwards.
In the end, you will have a stronger team and an improved rapport with your people – and this can only have a positive knock-on effect for your business.
Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020