Diversity & Inclusion, Learning & Development

How Can Companies Throw Safe, Inclusive Holiday Parties?

Around the world, life is settling into the new normal. Many people are returning to the office, and hybrid work is now standard. Many remote team members haven’t seen each other in person in over a year, and they’re losing their sense of team spirit. Those of us who feel comfortable can finally get together to celebrate, just in time for the holiday season.

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Celebrating our achievements as a team is critical to fostering a company culture of true inclusion and belonging. To support inclusivity, we should do our best to ensure our celebrations include every person on every team, even if they’re working remotely. We also pay extra attention to acknowledging and representing everyone from all cultural backgrounds and locations around the world.

Holiday Celebrations and Representation

It’s essential employers make a point to represent all beliefs and backgrounds at any holiday party they throw. Decorations, food and drink selections, and music playlists can show people that their colleagues support them and care about making them feel accepted in the workplace.

A little goes a long way, but it’s crucial to make sure it’s balanced. Consider optics. For example, decorating an office predominantly with Christmas items can make people with different backgrounds feel excluded and underrepresented. Something as simple as balancing the number of holidays represented in your party decor, menu, and playlist can help everyone feel included and represented.

No one should feel pressured to participate in activities that exclude them or make them uncomfortable. That’s why it’s so important to consider those who don’t affiliate with a religious group. They may feel uncomfortable participating in any kind of holiday party at all. To encourage everyone to participate in the celebration, consider rebranding your holiday party as a “New Years” or “end-of-year” party instead. 

Make Your Party a Globally Inclusive Event

If your team is global, your holiday party must include everyone from across your multi-national teams. Everyone needs to be invited, whether they come into the office or take advantage of remote or hybrid work models. Even if everyone on your team is located in one area, many people may still feel uncomfortable participating in in-person events because of the pandemic. Sometimes, people can’t travel. That doesn’t mean your company should skip a year-end celebration. It’s an opportunity to get creative and find new ways to celebrate together.

The key to throwing a great and inclusive celebration is providing an option for everyone. Create a company event committee to get great ideas directly from your people. Be flexible. If some people don’t feel comfortable showing up in person, a hybrid remote/in-person event can be the answer. Take advantage of technologies like the Remo platform to help your remote participants feel just as included as those who show up in person.

Show your appreciation even more and offer different ways for people to participate in the celebrations. You can make showing up to the party in person optional and allow people to decide for themselves how they want to celebrate. Finally, you can mail everyone a party pack to lift their spirits, whether they’re attending remotely or in person.

Tips and Tricks for Throwing Remote Parties

Considering how many people still don’t feel comfortable attending in-person events combined with the increase in people working remotely, plan for a hybrid remote/in-person event everyone can enjoy. Check in with your teams ahead of time to assess how they feel about attending a holiday party.

As HR professionals, we can’t forget ourselves. Make your own life easier and ask people to RSVP to the event. Ask them who will show up in person or remotely, and scale your event up or down as needed.

Run an anonymous poll, hold a meeting, or check in personally via email, Slack, or other personal channels. Ask who’s comfortable attending in person and who’s attending remotely. Ask what kinds of activities pique their interest and incorporate those activities into your hybrid party plan.

Making people feel comfortable and free to be themselves at work is the ultimate mission of the holiday party. Check ins show that your company cares about its people and how they feel about in-person and holiday-themed events. They can also help you gauge how many people will attend and choose the best format for your party.

Communicating with your people and tapping into their interests will help your party be a hit. Opening up conversations like these can also help people feel more comfortable and included in your company culture year-round. You can even use this opportunity to start new year-round traditions like volunteering and giving back to your teams’ local communities wherever they are in the world.

While your goal is to make your holiday party fun for everyone, the atmosphere should encourage people to unwind from the hectic workday and enjoy themselves. Make it clear that it’s time to unplug from work and stop worrying about tasks they have to complete. You’re celebrating a year of accomplishment. It’s time to relax and celebrate together. After all, when people can unplug and have fun together, even more magic happens when they work together.

Nirit Peled-Muntz, CPO of HiBob, is an experienced human resources leader with a proven record of HR success, with international experience in multi-national and culture-dynamic environments. Nirit has a strong background in initiating and implementing HR strategies and programs, supporting business growth, and achieving success.