09 Dec Inclusive Holiday Tips
The last time we provided inclusive holiday tips in a blog was in 2019! But so much has changed and the world is a different place. So, we thought we would write about what has changed and share some inclusion tips for the holiday season and what’s different now from 3 years ago.
So, What Has Changed?
There's no doubt that the pandemic has changed us all so much that we now find ourselves prioritizing the things that really matter the most and being more intentional about finding ways to be happier going forward than we did before the pandemic.
Due to COVID, the world has seen a shift in behaviors, the economy, healthcare and beyond. Hospitals have reevaluated patient care. We now must look after the overall health of our employees and provide resources to meet their needs. COVID has taken a toll especially on healthcare workers, young adults and families, caregivers and the list goes on — everyone affected is dealing with mental health issues to some degree. No one is immune.
The significant increase of people reporting mental health issues has led to a shift to talking about these feelings and issues and struggles such as burnout, depression, anxiety and even suicide more openly. This shift has made mental health care more readily available.
The above has resulted in a lot of change in the world of work and has had HR professionals working overtime to deal with it all. Here is a partial list of some changes that have occurred in the world of work:
- Rapid acceptance of flexible work schedules especially for those at great medical risk.
- Remote/Hybrid work is now the new normal.
- The Great Resignation came about once people started to reevaluate what was important to them, their jobs and future. Now we are dealing with “Quiet Quitting” and more questions around the future of work.
- New job opportunities have opened up which were not an option at one point due to physical location.
- Organizations are rethinking traditional approaches to leadership. Effective leaders are those who put people first, are supportive and vulnerable.
- Supply chain disruptions, due to global COVID related restrictions, labor shortages, short supply of products, equipment, and vehicles. As a consequence of supply chain issues, we are now dealing with inflation, which has impacted compensation strategies.
Last but not least, we have learned to be resilient and to value human connection for our mental well-being. We have come to realize that we do need each other. We have also learned to lean on music and the arts for spiritual uplifting. More than ever, we realize that we need enriching programs to restore us emotionally.
So, let us examine the key factors that influence how we celebrate in 2022 and beyond.
How to Celebrate the Holidays in a Hybrid World?
Most employees who transitioned to remote and hybrid work have said that this change has made it easier for them to balance their work and personal lives, but it has also made them feel less connected to their co-workers. This is more evident at times like this, as the holidays are about coming together with teammates, family and friends to celebrate.
Since the pandemic, the holiday season has been difficult for most employees. Many could not see family or friends due to concerns of coming in contact with others and falling ill. As we head into the holiday season, consider that your employees continue to struggle with many concerns listed above, including financial stress, grief, possible recession looming etc. According to an article in Forbes, 40% of people report having less energy for activities outside of work and 60% of employees have cut their mobility by over 50% since working remotely.
In order to support employees who, work hybrid or remotely during the holidays take into account that times have changed and consider the following:
- Check in with your employees and ask them how they are truly doing? Some employees could be facing recent loss and may not be celebrating with family or friends.
- Reward healthy living and physical exercise. Provide a flexible work schedule so employees have more time for self-care.
- Schedule holiday virtual and in person events during regular business hours.
- Remind employees that the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a good resource for crisis support.
- Reprioritize end of the year deadlines and allow for more employee engagement activities to help alleviate stress.
- Instead of hosting an event that many may not want to attend or travel to – leaders can send gifts to employees’ homes along with a special personalized note of appreciation and encouragement.
- Offer floating holidays which can eliminate bias toward Christian focused holidays and provides employees the option to choose which days they want to recognize and celebrate with a day off work.
Create an Inclusive Holiday Calendar to build awareness of other religious and cultural holidays.
Recognize All Celebrations This Time of the Year
While Christmas symbols and traditions are beautiful and quite familiar in the US, it's easy to forget there are several other major celebrations around this time and throughout the year. A simple way to be inclusive of your friends and coworkers is to take interest in their traditions and share the way you and your family celebrate the holidays.
- Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of light, begins in the evening of Sunday, December 18th and ends in the evening of Monday, December 26.
- Yuletide, the 12-day festival celebrated by Germanic peoples around the winter solstice, starts on December 21st and ends on Sunday, January 1, 2023.
- Kwanzaa, the week-long celebration of African heritage, starts on December 26th and ends on Sunday, January 1, 2023
- Lunar New Year, the traditional Chinese holiday which marks the end of winter, falls on January 22, 2023.
More Tips about Stress and Food and Drink Options
This time of the year can also be one of the most stressful for some due to a variety of reasons. Remember to pause and take note of those around you who are quiet or not participating, and remind them that you are there if they need you!
The food and drink options are important to having an inclusive holiday gathering. The key ones to keep in mind are kosher, halal and vegetarian dietary needs and other preferences. Remember that for some, placing different kinds of food on separate tables is as important as the choice of foods, and don't forget about the restrictions with regards to alcohol.
We hope you have a great holiday season and are able to make your people feel special by celebrating everyone’s personal story, values and traditions. We know that this is easier said than done, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone here at DEI@ouroffice.io, as we are here to support you in any way we can.
We wish you all a joyous, relaxing and safe holiday season!