With Chinese New Year around the corner, what does your festive agenda look like this year? Do you only celebrate festivities related to your religion (if any), or do you celebrate all holidays as they happen throughout the year?
In today’s “woke” environment, festivities related to religion may be sensitive. Use the following tips to make sure every staff member feels included and respected:
- Make attendance optional
- Provide food options
- Choose decorations carefully
- Respect religious preferences
- Raise awareness of other religions
- Provide diversified activities
- Offer floating holidays
- Don’t miss out on virtual events
- Invite feedback
Some staff members might not feel comfortable attending a festivity that aligns with a (different) religion. Some people don’t celebrate holidays at all (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses) or want to steer clear for personal reasons. Make it clear to your employees that attendance is voluntary.
While ham is popular at Christmas, not everyone will want to eat it. Provide food options that meet all dietary needs – think about halal, kosher, vegetarian, ... – so everyone feels included.
If you put up holiday decorations at the office, try to make them inclusive by, for example, adding educational cards nearby to explain the tradition. Consider using secularised holiday decorations and removing any religious symbols.
If someone does not feel comfortable celebrating a different religion’s holiday, make sure they still feel accepted and respected. To accommodate different perspectives, consider a two-stage party, where the first segment is formal and the second more free-flowing.
In international cities, like Hong Kong, where there is a mixture of cultures, it’s important to recognise diversity and promote inclusion. Even small organisations can create awareness about the diversity of their staff. Ask employees which holidays are important to them and recognise those throughout the year. Larger organisations can go deeper by organising panels where everyone can learn about different festivals or even about human rights to recognise the atheist and agnostic perspectives.
If you’re organising some activities during a celebratory team day, make sure they are diversified and not necessarily focused on a particular festivity. Even though most people celebrate Chinese New Year without a religious reference, Christmas might be different. Consider organising an “end-of-year event” rather than a “Christmas party” so everyone feels comfortable.
A nice way to show employees that you value their beliefs and preferences is to offer alternative holiday arrangements other than the listed public holidays. This way, they can take time off for days that are meaningful to them throughout the year.
Even though it’s nicer to celebrate achievements and holidays in a face-to-face setting, a virtual event can bring as much joy and appreciation to the team. If you have part of the team sitting in a different location, bring them in through a virtual platform or make every staff member go virtual so they are not left out.
Give staff the option to leave feedback anonymously. If they choose to leave their name, ensure a follow-up to show you value their suggestions and explain whether you will make the changes next year.
Build an inclusive company culture and instil a truly positive mindset in your team. Bring them together and learn about everyone’s culture and customs. Small steps are the start to big changes!
Here’s to inclusive celebrations!
PS: these are disruptive times for our Hong Kong teams – we are here to assist you if you need help to enhance team morale and engagement