The Christmas festivities are out in force, and while it’s easy to get caught up in the occasion, it’s important to remember that this time of year represents some tough challenges for much of the population.
Christmas represents an ideal opportunity for brands who want to advocate for greater inclusivity. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and those that do, don’t necessarily celebrate it for religious reasons.
The modern workplace is populated by people with a range of beliefs, backgrounds, and unique experiences. Christmas isn’t for everyone, and it doesn’t make them a ‘Scrooge’ or a fun sponge, far from it.
Here’s what you can do to create a safer and more inclusive space for everyone – what you can do at Christmas reverberates all year round.
Compulsory fun – it’s an Orwellian fever dream. Christmas parties have a loud reputation, some people wait for it all year, whereas others would rather do their own thing, and it’s okay if that thing is nothing at all.
Christmas parties shouldn’t be made compulsory, nor should your people be made to feel bad for not attending.
Top Tip: You could always forget the idea of a Christmas party altogether, and instead throw an end-of-year party, giving you the chance to celebrate everything, rather than a single religious festival.
Timing is crucial too. Be it down to childcare or other family obligations, some people may not be in a position to attend events after work.
A Safe Space All Year
Creating a safe space for different religions throughout the entire year is crucial in any attempt to cultivate inclusivity. According to the ONS statistics for England and Wales, as of 2021, 46.2% of people identified as being Christian.
Top Tip: Why not consider giving your employees the opportunity to celebrate public holidays that connect to their own beliefs?
For example, some people may want to have time off for Ramadan instead of time off at Christmas. Inclusivity is a perpetual process of learning, and that means learning about your employees’ beliefs as a business, and what you can do to support them.
Whether it’s the fabled Secret Santa or the notorious White Elephant, exchanging gifts has become a staple of the Christmastime workplace.
Top Tip: Everyone should be invited to take part in a gift exchange (if you do plan on doing one) but people should be able to opt-in, rather than made to participate. Christmas can take its toll on the bank account, and asking your team to spend more on work can put people in an awkward situation.
Support Mental Health
Christmas can be a particularly triggering time for many, especially those who don’t enjoy it or have family to spend it with. Reframing the way in which you approach the topic can make the world of difference, for example, ask what someone is doing for Christmas, rather than who they’re spending it with.
Top Tip: Wellness action plans and mental health first aiders can play a significant role in supporting employee wellbeing at this time too – whatever resources you have in place, make sure that your people know where to find them, and know that they can share thoughts honestly and without fear of judgment.
Don’t Centre Your Festivities on Drinking
For many, ritualistic Christmas drinking is a defining part of the festive period. This can make non-drinkers and people struggling with addictions incredibly stressful. Try and steer clear of centering your festivities around drinking – this can help you avoid creating high-pressure scenarios for your people.
Top Tip: Ask your team what they enjoy doing for the holidays and come up with a plan based on that.
This time of year is indeed magical for many, but there are plenty more sides to the story. Inclusive workplaces strive to build safe environments throughout the whole year, not just the festive time. This is crucial in creating a sense of belonging for all your employees.
If you need to create and implement more inclusive business practices, Equiris Consulting can help. We specialise in rebuilding cultures that work for everyone, and we do it through our DEIB-led (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) led methodology. If you have any questions at all, reach out to the team today, we’d love to help you unlock your people’s (and therefore, your company’s) potential.