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The landscape in the workplace is changing rapidly - especially during the holidays. While a holiday party can sound like a great way to increase employee morale, holiday celebrations can also create issues for an organization. This is even true for small organizations with only a few employees.
Here are some things to consider while planning your holiday get together:
Decorations: what you allow in the workplace is up to you, but they need to be reasonable, non-discriminate, within your policies, and safe. Be careful about refusing to allow employees to display religious symbols and decorations as these are minor accommodations that are generally acceptable and protected by law. Additionally, according to the EEOC, holiday decorations should not be avoided just because someone objects to them, but organizations should ensure that all holiday decoration displays are reasonable and non-disruptive. Invite your employees to decorate an area of the office with ornaments from their faiths and ethnic backgrounds. A friendly display can be a great way to recognize the diversity of religious practices and customs in your workforce.
Holiday Pay: The law does not require you to pay holiday pay, so begin as you mean to go on. If you start out paying for certain holidays, or giving bonuses at holiday time, it becomes an entitlement and employees not only begin to expect the money, but get upset if it is not forthcoming! The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family Medical Leave Act both address holiday pay for both exempt and non-exempt employees and how overtime pay should be handled. EBR will be glad to help you with this.
Misconduct and Inappropriate Gift-giving/Behavior: Oh, my, what a mare’s nest this can be! Secret Santa - allow it?? Don’t allow it?? Holiday party - cater it? Alcohol? Pot Luck? If you have a company sponsored holiday party keep these things in mind:
Rethinking the party? It is becoming increasingly popular to turn the party time and money into an opportunity to give back to the community in some way. Instead of having a party, plan events that will make your employees feel good. Collect canned foods for your local food pantry. Donate money to a local charity in your company's name. Contact a local social service agency for information about a needy family, then collect and buy gifts for the family's children. Change the emphasis from holiday giving by scheduling your event when there are no holidays; the need for food drives, helping needy families or even raising funds for pet rescue is year-round.