Holiday Sensitivities

We live in a multicultural world. Because there is such diversity in the workplace, there are more holidays in which a small business participates or acknowledges. Holiday etiquette questions range from what greetings should be given to co-workers during their designated holidays to what dish should you bring to a holiday party. Here are some tips for dealing with diverse holidays in the workplace.

  1. Distribute Memos

A memo is a great way to keep employees mindful of holidays. Two or three days in advance, send out a memo acknowledging the respective holiday. Use the memo to announce any upcoming celebration. Memos inspire group talk or allow for private communication to employees without pointing at any specific group or individual. It is important for your HR person, if you have one, or the small business owner to distribute the memo.

  1. Send Articles

Co-workers may have as many questions as you do. An example is Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, or Bodhi Day, there are cultural differences; therefore, it is always good to send out information regarding that holiday. Simple online articles, Wikipedia, or even LinkedIn are excellent sources for a quick background on Holidays and how they can be celebrated in the work place.

  1. Include Everyone

You never know how someone will respond to a Holiday celebration at an office. The best practice is to ask everyone and give them the option to say no; some employees feel they must say yes simply because they are asked. There can also be a religious conflicts for some co-workers whose religious practices do not allow celebration of other religions. Regardless, do not leave anyone out and ask everyone if they want to participate. You don’t want anyone feeling left out.

  1. Celebrate All Holidays

Speak to your HR person to guide you.  If your company is going to publically celebrate one holiday, you should celebrate them all. This is not only for an in-office party but for promotional materials as well. Sending out emails to clients that note a celebration should also have a degree of consistency. Working for a small or large business, you do not want to alienate people on a personal or professional level.

When catastrophic events happen close to a holiday, we recognize them by donating to a charity.  This way, we acknowledge both the holiday but also the need to be sensitive to others who might not be able to celebrate.  You might find other ways of acknowledging those two polarizing occasions but still recognize the holiday.

Patrick Coughlin is a Marketing Analyst at Consultants 2 Go.