Cultural Holiday Considerations in the Workplace

Cultural Holiday Considerations in the Workplace

Thursday, 05 December 2019

As people become more globalised, workplace diversity is on the increase. It is becoming more common that cultural holidays vary among employees. As employers welcome and encourage diversity, consideration must be given to the needs of a multicultural workforce and flexible leave entitlements.

The Christmas holiday season is looming and many employees are looking forward to welcoming a break and the festivities. However, for many HR Managers, they have to make sure that traditional Christmas celebrations are not imposed on employees of different cultures and beliefs.

Should an event such as Christmas be highlighted in the workplace?

Celebrating Christmas in Australia is a tradition. For decades employees have eagerly decorated their workplace. But has the time come to wind back on these traditions? We don’t think so.

Firstly Management should consider the diversity of their workforce. Most people, irrespective of their religious beliefs celebrate the holiday season as a time of caring, joy and relaxation.

Colourful decorations and festivities that embrace those principles add to the atmosphere and everyone can join in.

Is it necessary to recognise different cultural days in the workplace?

Yes! Recognising different cultural days in the workplace will help position your business as an employer of choice.

We believe you should allow employees to observe and celebrate religious and cultural holidays that are not official public holidays. There are different ways that you can accommodate staff. They can take days from their annual leave entitlement, or you could possibly allow flexible time or leave unpaid.

Denying someone the opportunity to celebrate their cultural traditions could result in an allegation of discrimination being leveled against your organisation. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees because of their religion.

Familiarise yourself with unlawful discrimination and the different cultural and religious dates so that you can accommodate employees.

The benefits of celebrating cultural events and dates

Acknowledging small things in people’s lives brings a human element into the workplace. Sharing information about upcoming cultural events and dates via internal communication platforms can lead to greater understanding among a diverse workforce.

Embracing cultural differences in the workplace can lead to:

- Improved productivity
- Improved team spirit
- Improved job satisfaction
- Reduced employee churn
- Reduced workplace conflict

As an employer, lead by example! There is little value in promoting diversity and inclusivity without management putting it into practice. Senior management drives a company’s culture, and the workforce follows suit.

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