How to Host Inclusive Office Holiday Parties

inclusive office holiday parties make employees feel valued

The holiday season is here, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate your employees and recognize all their contributions and accomplishments of the year. It’s also an opportunity to let your culture shine by ensuring that all employees feel included in the festivities. While it may take a little extra thought and planning, hosting an inclusive office holiday party sends the right message to your team that all voices and opinions matter. 

As you prepare the invitations and deck the halls, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure everyone feels welcomed.

  • Send a Survey: Empowering employees to have a say in the details of a holiday party is a great way to invite engagement while also making it clear that each person is valued and important to the overall team. Organizations must relinquish all control over seasonal events to make sure that all voices are represented. The planning stage sets the tone for the holiday party, so ask the team from the beginning what makes a great holiday party. And most importantly, once you gather feedback, be sure to listen and carefully consider and implement the suggestions.
  • Create a Planning Committee: Taking it a step beyond a team survey, try forming a planning committee to help throw the event. Afterall, if the party is only hosted by the leadership team, it might miss the mark on inclusivity. Invite employee resource groups (ERGs) to participate in the planning stage to make sure people feel represented at seasonal celebrations and all throughout the year. In doing this, organizations will follow the “Curb-Cut Effect,” where addressing one group of excluded people ultimately creates an environment allowing everyone to participate and contribute. Essentially, everyone will benefit.
  • Consider Remote Employees: An on-site holiday extravaganza is a fun bonding experience for employees, but what about the remote workers who are left at their computer screens missing out on the festivities? To include all team members, host a virtual holiday party that is considerate of all time zones. Or if having an in-person celebration is important, host regional events where groups of employees have the option of attending, or if budget allows, cover travel expenses so remote employees can travel to the holiday party destination. 
  • Communicate the Plan: When employees receive an invitation to a holiday party without any details, it may tend to stir up anxiety. To help ease the stress and boost the excitement, communicate any and all details, including whether or not alcohol will be served as some workers may feel uncomfortable in this type of setting, travel and hotel accommodations, menu options, whether spouses and partners are invited, and what behavior will not be tolerated at the event to set clear expectations.
  • Celebrate Culture: Workplace culture should take center stage during office holiday celebrations. Incorporate ways to recap the team events of the year by displaying photos in a slideshow, or have leaders speak about the impact the organization has made in the community over the past year. Instilling a sense of purpose and reiterating workplace values is a meaningful touch to any celebration. 
  • Make It Optional: While many employees will be thrilled to attend an annual holiday party, employers must keep in mind that the event should be optional. Certain religions, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, don’t celebrate holidays, so workplaces should keep this in mind when it comes to hosting inclusive celebrations. In many cases, if the event is planned with a truly inclusive mindset, it is more likely that employees will feel comfortable attending. 

As your organization gets into the holiday spirit, remember that celebrations should be inclusive, diverse and safe for all employees to attend – both remote and in-person. From kicking off the planning with a team survey to communicating the plan and celebrating workplace culture, these tips should make your season full of cheer. 

At Work Shield, we help organizations take employees’ concerns seriously, so all feel empowered and included, during the holidays and in all seasons.

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