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Practice the fine art of inclusion at your holiday gatherings

It’s that time of year, business owners — a time when you’re not only trying to wind down the calendar in profitable fashion, but also preparing year-end financials and contemplating next year’s budget.

And amidst all this, you likely have a holiday employee gathering to plan. This seemingly innocuous task can be just as tricky as the rest. It’s imperative to practice the fine art of inclusion at holiday parties so everyone feels engaged and rewarded for their hard work. Here are some ways to do so:

Involve staff in the planning. Have workers of different faiths and cultures serve on your holiday party committee. Be sure to incorporate as much of their personal holiday traditions as possible or employees may feel like they wasted their time participating on this task. By sharing family customs, workers will get to know one another better.

Celebrate differences. Rather than prohibiting all holiday-specific ornamentation in your office or at your holiday party, allow an assortment of decorations that reflect your staff’s varying traditions. And encourage employees to bring in their favorite holiday treats for all to sample. This is a great opportunity for workers to learn more about other cultures.

Say thank you to everyone. Food, drinks and bonus checks have become a holiday party focal point for many businesses. But, remember, there’s real power in explicitly saying thanks to workers. Doing so can range from passing out holiday cards with handwritten messages (from ownership or a direct supervisor) to having each department head give a presentation remarking on everyone’s individual achievements.

Pay attention to details. Like most work matters, details count — especially when planning a party. Here are some questions to ask when setting up your event:

• Does the space or facility accommodate disabled people?
• Are you serving nonalcoholic drinks and food for vegetarians or others with special dietary needs?
• Could anyone find “funny” speeches or “roasting” of certain employees offensive?
• Does the party’s date conflict with any worker’s religious beliefs?

In worst cases, a poorly planned holiday party can end up hurting morale and even triggering legal expenses if someone feels particularly excluded or offended. On the brighter side, a fun and inclusive gathering can conclude the year on a wonderful note. Let us help you manage the cost-effectiveness (and just plain effectiveness) of your company’s employee engagement activities.

© 2017