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December 26, 2008

Holidays Present Challenges and Opportunities

Filed under: General HR Buzz10:08 am

In a recent telephone survey of 534 workers, one in 10 employees has felt excluded during holiday celebrations at work.

Christmas, the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, the African-American holiday Kwanzaa, and occasionally the Islamic Ramadan occur in December, often within weeks of each other, making the holiday season a challenging time for U.S. employers.

The challenge is how do you have an enthused workforce and be faith-friendly and faith-neutral and not violate any laws?

Cindy Wigglesworth, founder and president of Texas-based Conscious Pursuits suggests that employers need a new goal.  “The old goal was not getting sued. I’d like to add another goal: to embrace what matters to people,” she says.

When it comes to religion- or faith-based holidays, start by considering your workplace demographics.  As an alternative to having no recognition of the holidays or a totally secular approach to the holidays, consider the holiday season as an educational opportunity.  Focusing on the faiths and religions of your employees and your community can be an interesting topic for diversity training.

Also, remember to be sensitive while planning holiday parties and exercise flexibility for those employees requesting time off for religious holidays and days of remembrance.

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