As the festive period approaches, it’s important to consider how workplaces can celebrate Christmas and ensure that no one is excluded. In this blog post we look at how employers can plan the ultimate inclusive office Christmas.
Christmas is an event that lots of employees look forward to. We tend to relax a bit more in the build-up and take the time to get together with colleagues informally. With this in mind, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget that Christmas isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for everyone.
For a start, there are a number of different cultures and religions that don’t celebrate Christmas at all. For some employees, Christmas can be a triggering time where family tensions or financial struggles are exacerbated. Feelings of grief and loneliness can also become more prominent at this time of year. It’s therefore important that employers think about all their staff. Celebrations should be enjoyable, accessible and inclusive for all of the team.
The first step to planning an inclusive office Christmas is to be aware of any sensitivities or mixed feelings people may have around Christmas. While everyone should be invited to take part in the celebrations it’s important that they don’t feel pressured into doing so. You might also want to give thought to:
Many colleagues will want to give gifts to one another – but others might choose not to participate. Wholeheartedly respect the wishes of those who want to opt out – no questions asked. Silly name-calling like ‘Scrooge’ and ‘Grinch’ might seem playful in the moment but could actually be hurtful and damaging.
To ensure everyone who wants to participate can, agree a maximum budget and encourage people to stick to it. Ask your team for budget suggestions and go with the lowest. The traditional ‘Secret Santa’ approach is a good way to make sure everyone gets a gift without spending a fortune. Be cautious of edible and alcoholic gifts – see ‘Food and drink’ below for more info about this.
Historically, lots of companies have chosen Christmas for their annual get together – but many places are now swapping this for a New Year or Summer celebration. There’s often less diary pressure for people outside of the festive season and places are less booked up. Depending on what you have planned, this could potentially be a cheaper option too.
If you do decide to go for a festive gathering, consider the timing and location of your office party. Evening meet ups often exclude those with caring responsibilities so a lunchtime, or even an online, get-together might work best. You’ll also want to make sure the venue is as central to everyone attending as possible – and ideally close to a public transport route. Don’t forget to check access requirements too. Accessible parking, ramps and lifts and facilities for guide dogs are just some of the things you may need to think about.
Often, celebrations go hand in hand with food and drink. If you are going out for a meal, make sure the location you choose can seamlessly cater for everyone’s dietary requirements. If you are having a buffet or ‘bring and share’ style get-together, separate food out by dietary need to be sure there’s no contamination.
Alcohol at office gatherings has long been a hot source of debate. Many people don’t drink alcohol – and even if you do, some will see celebrations with colleagues as an extension of the workplace and will choose not to drink. Whether you include alcohol in your celebration or not, the main focus of the party should not be alcohol. Make sure no one feels pressured into drinking and have lots of different options available.
Of course, inclusivity in the office should not start and end with Christmas. To create a truly inclusive office, you’ll want to champion and celebrate diversity all year round. Why not ask your employees what holidays or occasions they would you like to see recognised in the office? Observing other religious celebrations, festivals and calendar dates, such as Black History Month or World Mental Health Day, will help to create a more inclusive office.
Inclusive office design is also critical when creating a culture of inclusivity in the workplace. Take a look at our blog post to explore how workplaces can be designed to accommodate a range of different needs or get in touch to discuss your office fitout requirements with us.
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