3 ways to practice inclusiveness during the holidays

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While holiday celebrations are an impactful form of rewards and recognition, respecting their different cultures and traditions is also essential.
practice inclusiveness during the holidays

With the holidays upon us, there is a lot for people leaders to manage before year-end. While a manager’s to-do list is often busy with project completion and budgeting, it should also include employee appreciation and celebration. 

Celebrating and acknowledging your employees during the holiday season, especially after a busy year, can be extremely meaningful and contribute to long-term employee engagement and productivity. However, hosting a holiday party without keeping in mind the diversity of your team can have an adverse effect. 

Here are three tips to help you be more inclusive with your employee celebrations during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season: 

Make your holiday event virtual

Host a virtual party or meeting to be more inclusive if you have a distributed workforce. There are a ton of free or reasonable options to help with celebrating.

  1. Host a virtual happy hour: Have everyone bring their drink of choice and chat for the hour. Consider incorporating “holidays around the world trivia” or other fun games. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about your team’s culture and traditions during the holidays. 
  2. Plan a virtual lunch: Let employees have food delivered (breakfast/lunch/dinner depending on time zone) and expense it. Share the hour eating, celebrating, and catching up. 
  3. Host a virtual gift exchange: To host a virtual gift exchange, start using a gift exchange generator to pick names randomly. Everyone can send their secret person a virtual or mailed present, then open them together at the virtual holiday party. Also, consider this fun online White Elephant 🐘gift exchange. 
  4. Create a craft: Create a craft together virtually. Let your employees purchase a gingerbread house, cookies, or other fun, meaningful items to build or decorate. For example, some cool virtual painting companies ship supplies to employees’ houses. Also, consider adding a contest and vote for the best or worse! Have employees post their art for votes if you have a digital platform for internal communications. This is a great way to add fun to your communications platform and get employee engagement. 
  5. Play holiday bingo: This is a fun and easy game you can play with your employees in a virtual meeting. There are a ton of free boards here
  6. Do a virtual escape room: During the event, your team has a certain amount of time to solve a riddle or puzzle. Here is one vendor that offers a virtual escape room. 

Make it a holiday party

Saint Nicholas Day, Las Posadas, Christmas, Boxing Day, St. Stephen’s Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day, and Chinese New Year. These are just a few holidays people celebrate from December through late January. With that in mind, keep your holiday gatherings inclusive of all traditions, cultures, and holidays. Ask employees to share their traditions and cultures or help plan the event to ensure it is diverse in thought and truly promotes inclusion and belonging. 

Remember employee wellness

Being inclusive also means raising awareness and normalizing conversations around mental health. The holiday season can bring mixed emotions for many. For some, it is their favorite time of year. For others, it brings feelings of sadness, loss, or loneliness. 

In your next team meeting, share that you know the holidays can cause stress and anxiety for some people. Being open and vulnerable about personal stressors or stories can help encourage conversation and break the stigma. This is also an excellent time to remind employees about employee assistance programs and available resources. Many companies offer free online and in-personal counseling sessions, financial coaching, and assistance. Ensure employees know what resources are available, especially during the holiday season.

Give the gift of inclusivity

While it may sound simple to host an inclusive virtual party and do cheers to the year or remind employees about available wellness programs, these seemingly simple gestures make a huge impact. This holiday season, give the gift of inclusivity and help spread gratitude, recognition, and belonging. 

Communicating with inclusive language and prioritizing a workplace of dignity, equity, and inclusion ensures every worker feels welcomed and treated with respect. With that in mind, we put together an inclusive language glossary that HR departments, internal communicators, and leaders can share with their workforce to prioritize DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and avoid discrimination. 

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Brittany Barhite

Brittany Barhite

Dr. Brittany Barhite is the Communication and Employee Experience Director at Firstup. She has more than 16 years of experience in employee, leadership and external communications. Prior to Firstup, Brittany handled internal communications for a Fortune 500 company, overseeing employee and executive communications. Her experience and education provide a fresh internal communications approach that is focused on creative storytelling and transforming the employee digital experience.

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