Voices of our Nation

How to maintain Holiday Diversity in the Workplace

Now there’s something we don’t often take into consideration: diversity in the workplace during the holidays. Since a good majority of the population in Canada is Christian – or assumed to be – we often don’t think that something so small as saying “Merry Christmas” to our fellow workers might be offensive or make them feel uncomfortable. Here are a few ways to make everyone feel equal in the workplace during the holidays!

1) Keep it minimal when decorating the office. Remember, less is more. Minimal decor includes things such as Christmas lights, while keeping in mind to avoid any lettering, unless they read “Happy Holidays.” Feel free to string up those red and green or icicle lights! Ribbons and bows are acceptable as well. Santas, reindeer, Christmas trees, nativity scenes – definite no-no’s!

2) Avoid “Secret Santa.” Seriously. Unless you know for sure that everyone in your office is a devout Christian, then you run the risk of offending that guy who sits in the cubicle next to Joanne who may be, say, a Jehovah’s Witness (hint: they don’t celebrate any holiday, under any circumstances). Remember, Christmas is considered a Christian holiday, so think of all the other religious groups who don’t celebrate it. And while Santa isn’t mentioned in the Bible, the whole concept of receiving presents, putting up a Christmas tree, and so on, is considered to be for those of Christian faith. If you absolutely must give a few select people in the office a gift, do so discretely.

3) Giving your employees a Christmas bonus? Start calling it the “Holiday bonus.” Well, either that, or just not give them a bonus at all. However, if the entire office is putting in those extra hours just to get that bonus they’re expecting, then rewarding people with a “Holiday bonus” keeps everyone happy.

4) Change the way you greet your employees. It seems like nothing when wishing them a “Merry Christmas.” The easy solution – if you absolutely must, start wishing them a “Happy Holiday.” This applies to when you are sending out a group email at the office, or just speaking to someone face-to-face.

Your employees will take notice of you putting in the effort to make the workplace comfortable for everyone during this Christmas season. To avoid any unnecessary issues, don’t be afraid to encourage people to do the same!

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Sara McKerracher.