Inclusive Holidays: 4 Best Practices for Celebrations in the Workplace

inclusive holiday celebrations
HR professionals must consider how to practice inclusive holiday celebrations in order to promote a healthy work environment.

Key Points:

  • It is important to respect different traditions and cultures in order to create a welcoming environment during the holiday season.
  • Some organizations provide their employees with a floating holiday in addition to traditional paid holidays.
  • Taking the time to create a diverse and inclusive holiday calendar will aid in supporting all of your employees’ traditions.

The holiday season is quickly approaching, bringing an exciting but challenging time for the workplace. The time between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve is often known as the “December Dilemma” and can leave a lot of employees feeling unhappy and unseen. HR professionals must consider how to be inclusive in their office celebrations and holiday calendars in order to promote a healthy work environment. 

Many employees celebrate holidays and traditions differently, and those traditions are what shapes us and our points of view. This post outlines ways you can better learn and recognize your employees’ backgrounds and practice inclusive holiday celebrations in your workplace.

Tips for Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace

Offer Every Employee a Floating Holiday

A floating holiday is a paid day off that each employee receives and can decide when to take off. These are given to employees in addition to typical paid holidays. The general goal of floating holidays is to benefit those who may not celebrate federally recognized holidays. A floating holiday will give them an extra day to take for their own traditions. It can also just be used to add on for a longer holiday break. For example, a floating holiday can be used to celebrate Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, or for the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas to make for a longer holiday break. Floating holidays help to boost morale and encourage inclusivity in holiday celebrations. 

Some organizations only allow employees to choose their floating holiday from a company approved list of cultural, religious, and government holidays and events. Other organizations don’t require the floating holiday to be used for anything specific. For better understanding and communication throughout your organization, consider creating a policy surrounding floating holidays. This policy should include whether the holiday is provided at the beginning or end of a calendar year, and any other restrictions on how or when the holiday may be used. 

Create an Inclusive Holiday Calendar

Many organizations keep holiday calendars available for employees to reference throughout the year. Consider referencing an interfaith diversity calendar when creating your office holiday calendar. Creating a diverse and inclusive calendar will aid in supporting all of your employees’ traditions. 

Another way to ensure an inclusive holiday calendar is to allow input from your employees. See what holidays and traditions are celebrated among your office and add them to the holiday calendar through a survey, or even create a shareable calendar. This way you know exactly what should be included for your specific workplace. 

Give Employees the Option to Opt-In or Opt-Out

Creating an inclusive space during the holidays requires empathy and mindfulness. Not only should you include different religious holidays on your calendar, but give your employees an option to opt-out of holiday celebrations. For example, gift exchanges or holiday parties should be optional and planned with respect towards those who choose to not participate.

Additionally, not everyone will be able to join these holiday celebrations in person if they are working remotely. Consider offering remote celebrations for those who are unable to be there but would like to participate. 

Make Strides to Improve your Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

There is always room to improve when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Starting with learning opportunities, the following are some ways to encourage education throughout your workplace:

Besides company-wide education, there are other ways you can improve the diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Ensure that you are creating a safe space where your employees can be themselves and share their stories and traditions. Not only welcome those practices, but reciprocate your traditions and holiday memories as well. The workplace is somewhere to make everyone feel welcome, heard, and appreciated. 

Everyone is going to make mistakes when it comes to creating a more inclusive environment for employees. Learn from those mistakes and welcome feedback from your team. Creating an inclusive environment, especially for the holidays, can be tricky and does not happen in one day. Be sure to continue to work towards a diverse and comfortable work environment year-round.


The Sentric Team

The Sentric Team

At Sentric, we help businesses make people management easier with industry-leading technology and standout support.

Sentric HR & Payroll Insights

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