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How To Be Inclusive During the Holiday Season

Unless you know which holidays the employees in your workforce celebrate, you can’t be 100-percent sure that you are being fully inclusive with your office decorations, staff parties and time off.

So what’s the solution? Include all the holidays? Avoid them all together?

According to the experts, the best course of action is for managers to be flexible and accommodating whenever possible. Specifically, Carol Sladek, a work/life expert for Chicago-based Aon Hewitt, a human resources and management consulting firm, recommends the following strategies:

  • Reduce the number of scheduled days off (typically aligned with conventional holidays) in favor of having more floating holidays that workers can use when they choose. This “allows employees to be off around the six or seven days that the employer shuts down but also allows them to be off on the days that are important to them,” Sladek said. Further, employees that don’t celebrate a particular holiday – provided their business is open – can benefit from earning premium pay for the day .
  • If the work environment and job is suitable, another option is to allow employees to work from home on a scheduled holiday. However, employers should have specific guidelines regarding eligibility for work from home opportunities and should also ensure that a supervisor, and (where necessary) senior management, signs off on such a request.
  • While full days off might not always be necessary in the run up for a holiday, providing some flexibility so that workers can spend time with their families – be it dashing off to a school play or collecting relatives from an airport – is always much appreciated by employees.
  • Beyond time off, being inclusive can also extend to decorations for the office. “If you have a diverse office, you can create a decorating committee for employees to join and give them a budget to plan and do the decorating themselves,” suggests Christy Hopkins, a New York-based HR consultant and recruiter. A second idea is to give each person a stipend to use for decorating their space, or not, as they see fit so that all parties feel supported.
  • And as for the greetings for the holiday season, the experts suggest that despite a pledge from president elect Donald Trump that he will stamp out the phrase “Happy Holidays,” the saying is and will likely remain the most inclusive greeting for the season and is thus most likely to be used by employers.

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