First published on LinkedIn.
The December Dilemma is an issue every organization faces during this time of year, a time where year-end traditions occur whether religious or secular. If planned poorly, tensions can run high and emotions can lead to misunderstandings. And whether in-person or virtual, having the necessary approach and developing your own awareness can help create a holiday season that benefits everyone.
Tip #1 – Acknowledge You Won't Know/Celebrate Everything.
While increasing in diversity, 1/3 of the US population still celebrates Christian traditions (SHRM). At the same time, this bulk of the population probably doesn't celebrate it the exact same way either. Holidays are meant to be personal, and how each individual celebrates this special time of the year can vary from home to home. Be sure to equip yourself with expert knowledge to take on this complex challenge. I like to refer to a list of observances and celebrations that's updated every year and outlines all the secular and nonsecular dates, including national holidays and international dates of recognition.
Tip #2 – Ask & Involve Others!
Planning an event isn't a one-person job. Inviting others to join your event planning team and getting their input is a small and quick step you can take to fostering Inclusion. Use tools to make it easier – employee surveys have become so pervasive now that we're more virtual. It's a great way to source suggestions and find out what considerations require attention (e.g., Is the office party too religious? Is someone fasting during this time or has dietary restrictions?). You won't know the best way to celebrate without getting a sense of what people's needs are... just don't make it a 'Christmas party in disguise'!
Tip #3 – Remember Your End Goal.
At the end of the day, the purpose is to celebrate and appreciate the work that's been put out this past year. We're not checking off any boxes or tipping our hats to star employees; rather, we're taking a step away from our busy schedules and appreciating what we already have and who we have in our lives. As a business leader, show your organization that you're grateful for what's already been accomplished.
Tip #4 – Everyone Wants To Be Included.
Even the quietest individual at work wants an invitation to the party. This is the time to encourage group participation. During the holidays, the sense of loneliness can be especially painful. And if this individual has recently gone through loss in their life because of Covid-19 or other factors, they are in need of extra support. As the party planner, make a thoughtful effort to include even the stragglers. We're celebrating 'wins' of all forms, including resiliency.
This is an opportunity to showcase your commitment to DEIB in the workplace. I tell my clients to focus on the impact rather than the intention – your approach in planning the celebrations and the wins are what will create a welcoming and authentic culture at work.
Until next month... Stay safe, be well & stay healthy!