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Holiday Parties Call For Inclusion & Gratitude

Year end can be a stressful time for those in ownership and management positions. Along with having to tackle a myriad of tasks related to financial reporting and tax planning, you also probably need to plan a holiday party. And whether it is the food, venue, or the time of day, employees have been known to grumble about the finer points of these gatherings.

Although it may be difficult to please everyone on your staff, you can make this year’s shindig more enjoyable for employees and less risky for your organization by focusing on inclusion and gratitude.

Celebrating differences

Some organizations spend hours debating the appropriateness of a holiday party. In the end, they might have better spent that time planning an event because employees generally expect and appreciate such functions — even if they might complain about the details. Here are ways to make the party more pleasing for workers of all backgrounds:

Call it what it is. Today’s workforces tend to be more diverse than those of decades ago, with employees celebrating a variety of holidays. Use the term ‘holiday party’ to convey that everyone is welcome to celebrate in an appropriate manner of his or her choosing.

Thank your workers. Food, drinks, and perhaps the distribution of bonus checks often make up the sum total of holiday parties. You can elevate the gathering — and employees’ moods — by centering the festivities around giving thanks to everyone and celebrating another year’s accomplishments as an organization. You might hold an awards ceremony to recognize top performers or put together a fun, lively presentation reviewing all that has gone on over the preceding 11 months or so.

Involve employees in the planning. Invite workers from throughout your organization to serve on your holiday party committee (not just managers or human resources). Consider incorporating as many personal holiday traditions as possible. By sharing family customs, workers will get to know each other better.

Mind the details. Most employers have only the best of intentions when planning a holiday gathering. But the slightest missed detail can create awkwardness or even a full-blown employment dispute. Here are some questions to ask when setting up your event:

  • Does the facility accommodate people with disabilities?
  • Are you serving nonalcoholic drinks and food for vegetarians or people with other special dietary needs?
  • Could anyone take offense at a planned skit or the ‘roasting’ of a party participant?
  • Does the party’s date conflict with anyone’s religious beliefs?

You may want to make attendance optional because employees from certain religious groups may prefer not to participate in the party or gift giving.

Advantages in the offing

Event planning can be stressful, but a good holiday party will bring staff together in a way that most other work-related gatherings cannot. And there are certainly advantages in the offing for you — such as improved team-building, morale, and employee retention. Contact us for assistance in setting a reasonable budget and understanding the tax implications.

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