As your small business grows and you hire more employees, respecting diversity in the workplace is essential to ensuring your staff feels comfortable and valued. During the holidays, this is particularly important.
While you and your family may celebrate a specific holiday, remember that some of your employees may have different beliefs. Everything from decor to holiday parties and emails should remain as neutral as possible. Here are a few tips for your small business as you try to maintain workplace etiquette throughout the holiday season.
Focus on your team’s accomplishments
Highlight what you and your employees share rather than where you differ. For example, if you’re throwing a holiday party or sending out a friendly email to your company, congratulate staff on a successful year, highlighting all of the accomplishments made and how far you’ve come since the company’s early years.
All of your employees play an important role in moving your small business toward a bright future. In an email or speech at your company celebration, point this out to your team and how you’re confident that this hard work will continue driving success. This is an encouraging way to mark the end of a good year, turning the focus from specific holidays to your achievements.
Decorate with neutral decor
While it’s important to respect all cultures and religions, it’s usually a bad idea to try to recognize all of these beliefs as you decorate the building. Workplace diversity consultant Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D., explained to Monster that the more you try to please everyone in your office, the more likely you are to offend someone.
Instead of popular decorations like Santa Clauses or menorahs, think more along the lines of snowflakes, candles, balloons, ribbons, bows and festive wintertime plants like pine and holly. Set up a few bowls of candy in common rooms throughout the building for your staff to enjoy. You may also want to consider brightening up the office with some white or colorful lights to help your staff fight off some of the winter blues that stem from dark evenings. When it comes to music and food at your company party, play classic oldies or popular hits that everyone will recognize and offer standard vegetarian and nonvegetarian dishes, such as finger sandwiches and vegetable trays.
As part of focusing on what you and your employees have in common, including family in holiday events can help bring everyone together. After all, families are something that almost everyone on your team will have in common, regardless of their beliefs. If you’re hosting a holiday party, encourage your workers to bring their partners or spouses and children, if appropriate. Remember that this may mean you’ll have to put more thought into transportation and activities at your celebration.
Turn your attention to others
The holiday season is a great time to lend a helping hand to people in need. Celebrate the end of the year by giving back through a company charity event or drive. Encourage your employees to bring canned foods or toys to work that you can donate to a local charity or aid organization. You can even tie a raffle into your charity drive to encourage employees to participate. For example, for every two cans of food or every toy they bring in, award them a raffle ticket for a chance to win a prize.
If you’re looking for strategies to keep your small business’s holiday outreach, marketing campaigns and in-store decor holiday neutral this season, check out part two of our holiday neutral series for some great tips.