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  • Writer's pictureAlyscia Raines

How to Maintain an Inclusive Workplace Culture at the End of the Calendar Year

December 23, 2020

Alyscia Raines

Founder and Principal Consultant

ADR Consulting Group LLC.

As the year comes to an end, many businesses, offices, agencies and schools alike are preparing to close up shop in observance of Christmas Day. It comes with no surprise that in the United States, a country where Chrisitianity is the most prevalent faith tradition, Christmas is a widely celebrated holiday. Christmas is so widely celebrated throughout the nation that you are  very likely to hear Merry Christmas, as people quickly head out for their last days of work on December 23rd or 24th. In 2017, according to the Pew Research Center reported about 50% of Americans celebrate Christmas. That means nearly 50% of the population does NOT celebrate Christmas. So why at the end of the year, do most offices and workplaces celebrate with warm Christmas wishes while donning decorative green and red decor if not everyone celebrates? 

We at ADR Consulting Group LLC, believe that the key to successful and profitable businesses, and organizations relies on an inclusive workplace. An inclusive workplace is one that accounts and considers the identities and needs of all. So before you drop “Happy Holidays” as your out of office reply message, check out a couple of our tips below.


Be clear with your messaging

Instead of using greetings such as ‘Merry Christmas”, consider other options such as “Happy Holidays”, which nods to the dozen December holidays across various cultures and religions.  “Season’s Greetings'', is another option, which references the Winter Solstice that occurs on December 21, the first day of winter; beginning of the new year in some faith traditions and also commencing a tradition of rest in communities that depend on harvesting crops. Focusing on the Winter Season rather than one specific holiday is a great way to go.

Create a community calendar.

In 2006, cellular company Virgin Mobile aired a commercial with the greeting “Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah”! It was their attempt to name each December holiday (Christamas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa) and therefore leave no one out, right? Unfortunately this is not the case. As mentioned above, there are nearly a dozen holidays celebrated around the world. Rather than trying to name each, like the Virgin Mobile commercial, you can ask your team what they celebrate. You can do this by creating a community calendar where everyone has the option to add holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestone events. That way you are more likely to come up with a list of dates not only in December but throughout the year that represent your team. 

Shift the focus 

Rather than doing a company holiday party that really has all of the makings of a Christmas party, consider forgoing the party altogether and opting instead for a New Year event when everyone returns during the first week of January. A January celebration is the perfect way to boost morale, increase opportunity for engagement while also taking the time as a team to set intentions and goals for the year. 

If all of the holiday and festivities is not your jam, feel free to skip it altogether. Instead you can use the time at the end of the year to focus on reflections of the year. How did the year go for the company? Perhaps you can publish an annual report (bonus points for publishing a diversity report) and then share it with the entire team, highlighting successes and areas of opportunity. You can host an end of the year award ceremony, celebrating the accomplishments and long tenures of your employees. Lastly, you can also use the end of the year as a time to express kudos and gratitude for other members of your team. Nothing beats sending people off for their last days in the office with all of the warm and fuzzy affirmations and compliments!

During a whirlwind of a year like 2020, now more than ever it is important for managers, supervisors and leaders alike to continue to find ways to build an inclusive and engaged organization. Fun parties, whether they be virtual or in person, competitions and holidays can be a great way to bring people in the office together. Just be sure to create an environment where all can celebrate and be celebrated. The options are limitless. If you are still unsure of what to do, take a poll and ask your team of their preferences. Best wishes as you wrap up the end of a year like no other. Take time to rest and rejuvenate as you prepare for all that the next year will bring. Season’s Greetings to you and yours!

For more tips and suggestions on how to achieve an inclusive workplace, check out our website at and schedule a free consultation!


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