Holiday HR | An expert guide to inclusive festive work celebrations

An expert guide to inclusive festive work celebrations

The end-of-year season (and all the celebrations that come along with it) are a challenge for businesses looking to operate in a more inclusive way. While fun, for some they are a time of stress and confusion, especially if your employees are part of a fully remote, global team.

Research shows that inclusivity and diversity are factors in running a successful business with a happy and empowered work culture. Efforts of inclusion extend to celebrations, particularly at the end of the year when many different cultures celebrate different holidays.

With this in mind, global employer of record Remote (which has a fully remote team of more than 900 employees spread across more than 65 countries) shares its tried-and-tested tips on how to prioritise inclusivity over the holidays.

After all, why build up a great team of people, only to leave them feeling left out during a time of togetherness?

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Commenting on the importance of inclusive celebration at work and how Remote celebrates the winter season, VP of People at Remote Nadia Vatalidis said: “Here at Remote, we mark the holidays by celebrating the successes of our teams and the wider business, usually aiming to do this during the first two weeks of December. Our employees come from a wide range of backgrounds, so we treat this as a celebration of the end of the year and an opportunity to look ahead, instead of a celebration of any one holiday. This way, everyone can participate and celebrate together.

“We’ve set up Slack channels where folks can show off their decorations or share their favourite recipes, and every December, we also celebrate our volunteer month. December is globally viewed as a time to give, we think there’s no better way to celebrate than through donating a few things to the local community or giving our time to volunteering projects.

“Inclusive celebration is essential because every member of your team is important. By considering each one of your employee’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, you’ll ensure everyone can enjoy the holiday season in their own way.”

Remote’s eight playbook tips for holiday inclusivity

  • Be time-zone inclusive. If you have a global team, make sure you account for employees in different time zones who may have less coverage support than those in larger time zone locations and ensure they have a turn to take time off.

  • Offer floating holidays. Not everybody celebrates the same occasions. Reflect this fact in your holiday policy by allowing your employees to choose which religious holidays they want to celebrate with paid time off.

  • Create a holiday calendar. Highlight different religious, awareness, and inclusion days and events with a company-wide holiday calendar. Send out internal communications about upcoming holidays and encourage employees to share how they celebrate. Just remember — don’t disclose the beliefs of your employees in these communications yourself. If employees want to share, that is up to them.

  • Recognise your employees’ preferences. Every employee is different. Some may love the buzz of an office party, while others may prefer a more relaxed event. Make sure that everyone is given a say in how they’d prefer to celebrate this holiday season, and clarify that attendance is always optional.

  • Ramp up the flexibility. During the holidays, people are more likely to travel or have obligations outside of work. Flexible hours are always a good thing, but allowing team members to have more freedom in when they sign on or off can help them navigate family trips, school events, and all the other complicated planning that happens with end of year celebrations.

  • Create a diverse party-planning committee. Leaving your party up to a committee can relieve some pressure. Still, you’ll need to ensure that the committee represents the diverse makeup of your business and represents the spectrum of values and beliefs within it.

  • Celebrate success. Hold a party to celebrate your employees and their achievements and take a moment to reflect together. The event doesn’t have to be focused on a specific day or celebration — it’s all about the people in your business.

  • Different cultures celebrate different holidays. Be mindful during the end-of-year season and don’t make any assumptions based on someone’s religion (or location) for whether they would take time off or not.

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Three ground rules for every work event

  1. No one gets left out. It may be challenging to create events that accommodate remote and in-office workers, people from different cultures, and people who like different things, but don't let that stop you. Inclusivity is key so, if you’re managing a hybrid or global team, have you organised an event that everyone can attend?

  2. Variety is the spice of life. Not everyone drinks alcohol, enjoys the same foods, or likes the same games. Give people options to ensure everyone feels welcome and send a quick poll when planning the events to see your team’s dietary and drink requirements.

  3. Show your appreciation. It's not often that everyone gets to gather together to have fun, so use this opportunity to show people they are valued and appreciated. End-of-year awards are nice, but make sure everyone leaves feeling like their presence and contributions are valued.

Inclusivity is essential for business and people

If your office is lacking in diversity, or you’re yet to consider inclusivity initiatives, it’s time to question why this is. Diversity and inclusion initiatives aren’t just awesome for your employees; they’re beneficial for your business, too.

Here are some of Remote’s favourite workplace inclusivity stats:

  • Studies prove that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers, and ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to do the same.

  • Companies with more women on the board outperform their competition, and this is also true for teams with high inclusivity.

  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives help everyone to feel more valued in the workplace. The more valued our employees feel, the happier they are. Studies show that happier teams are 12% more productive.

Of course, we shouldn’t really need all this research to get the point across. It’s more a case of applying some common sense — feeling included and respected makes us feel comfortable, and who wants to feel uncomfortable at work?

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When considering the inclusivity of your work culture, examine:

  • Your diversity statement. Does your business have a diversity statement written up? And is it easily accessible to the public and your staff? Do your leaders actually hold themselves accountable to diversity goals? Simply saying diversity is a priority is not enough. Businesses must back up their words with actions.

  • Your company’s use of language. Words matter. Review your website or job advertisements and remove any discriminatory expressions related to race, religion, gender, class, sex, or ability. In addition, consider encouraging people from underrepresented backgrounds to apply.

  • The makeup of your current workplace. Look around your office (or the next few remote meetings) — what do you see? You may have difficulty finding diverse candidates if your company is filled with people who all look alike, are the same gender, or share the same backgrounds.

  • By fostering a work culture where everyone’s beliefs are respected, you’re allowing your employees to bring their true selves to work. Winter is the perfect season to take stock and look back on the big wins (and challenges) of the past year. If you’re yet to reflect on the inclusivity and diversity policies of your own organisation, we couldn’t think of a better time to change that.

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