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An Inclusive Holiday Policy is a Must for All Organizations

Posted Dec 15, 2016 08:50 AM
Make sure your human resources policies recognize your employee’s diverse religious and cultural practices. It is important to have an inclusive holiday policy that’s equitable, flexible, and clearly articulated.

There are concrete steps your HR staff or leadership can take to craft holiday policies that will be fair and respectful to everyone. Although we’re currently in the thick of the holiday season, if your organization acts now you can implement some of these ideas right away! At the very least, you can act on these suggestions for next year.

We suggest that you:

  • Offer 1-2 floating holidays. In addition to taking federal holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas off, you can offer your staff 1 or 2 “floating” holidays per year that they can use for occasions like Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah, or Diwali. However, make sure these days aren’t only defined in a religious or cultural context. The anniversary of the death of a loved one can be included as well.
  • Provide the option to “exchange” holidays. Another option is to provide staff the choice to “exchange” an established holiday with one of their choosing. For example, if a staff member wants to work on Christmas, they can choose to do so (remotely, if necessary) but take a different day off instead.
  • Clarify to your staff why it’s important to have an inclusive holiday policy. It is important to articulate to staff why you are making changes to your holiday PTO (paid time off) policies. This can be an opportunity to receive feedback on your policies, boost the morale of your team, and lay the foundation for future improvements. If you want employees to say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas,” make sure you explain why instead of just sending out a staff-wide memo dictating this greeting.
  • Identify ways you can be inclusive to all cultures. What are ways you can create a welcome and celebrative environment for your staff? Consider creating a “quiet room” where staff can do their spiritual practices in private. Schedule meetings around daily exercises like prayer or other faith-based practices. Be conscious of dietary restrictions when planning potlucks.
  • Establish what you want your organization’s culture to be like. This will take a lot of reflection, but it is crucial to articulate the kind of culture you want to foster. Even in an organization that is faith-based, there may be some staff who do not share a common background or belief system.
Crafting an inclusive holiday policy and practices is essential but difficult work. But these policies will go a long way in nurturing your team to become more enthusiastic champions for your mission.