Four inclusion strategies for the holidays

Inclusion at the holidays

Many people look forward to the winter holiday season as a time to connect with friends and loved ones. For some, the holidays may bring a different set of emotions to the surface. 

It might be otherness because they celebrate differently from the people around them. Or, like in my case, it might be that they lost someone during the holiday season and the feelings of joy that once came easily are now tinged with grief and reflection. 

I lost my sister around Christmas in 2015, and this year I am starting to feel some of the joy and anticipation I used to associate with the holidays. That said, it is also a time to remember her, and the loss will forever be part of how I experience the season.  

Chances are, you work with someone in one or both of these categories. At the office, it is a fine line to celebrate the joy of the holidays, while also being sensitive to people who are less than full-on holly jolly. 

I share four ways to bring inclusion into your office holiday plans. These are tactics I have tried, please add others that work for you! 

Schedule around religious holidays. 

This time of year is stacked with them, so do your homework! If you are scheduling a team event or party, check the major holiday calendars so you don’t inadvertently exclude team members. 

Plan events that don’t center around drinking. 

It can be natural to celebrate with wine, beer or spirits this time of year, but think through options that include people who don’t or can’t imbibe. Fun things to do as a team: service event, ice skating, gingerbread house decorating contest, hot chocolate tasting. 

Start with gratitude.

One of the great parts of the holidays is taking a moment to be thankful. Buy sets of thank you cards and hand them out, asking each person to thank a friend or colleague. Start the cheer-spreading yourself by sending appreciation notes and asking the recipient to pass it along! 

Know that not everyone celebrates the same way.

Be sensitive talking about big family celebrations in the office because not everyone has that to look forward to (especially if they are living away from family). If you know someone without family around, can you invite them to join you? A few years back my sister would bring students from her MBA program home for the holidays so they could experience our traditions and it was a great addition to our festivities. 

The holidays can be a wonderful time to bring your team together to spread joy and gratitude – above all, enjoy the season!