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Creating Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace

Creating Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace

By Marion Davis

December is upon us, and Western holidays appear as a constant theme. During this time of year, companies benefit from emphasizing inclusive holiday celebrations in the workplace. 

To foster a culture of belonging, organizations should always begin by asking instead of assuming which holidays employees observe or whether they observe any holidays at all. 

Managers can ask employees to provide individual input about which holidays they would like to celebrate–if any. Some employees may prefer to avoid festivities in general and would appreciate an alternative such as flexibility in taking a set day off from work during December. 

Engage Employees through Surveys to Create Inclusive Holiday Celebrations

Using survey tools within an organization can be a powerful tool that allows employees to make their voices heard. 

To create effective campaigns, organizations must be prepared to manage employee feedback gathered through these surveys and demonstrate responsiveness to this feedback. This responsiveness leads to higher retention and productivity rates among employees.

Employee Survey Tools

With dozens of employee survey tools to choose from, employers may struggle to know which option is best. The following descriptions are for two of these tools that are currently available.

  • OfficeVibe: OfficeVibe is a platform designed specifically for conducting employee surveys and tracking responses. The site provides helpful information on designing surveys, a free downloadable guide, and customizable survey templates. The pre-made survey templates do have the limitation of starting with a quantitative question (i.e. providing a number as a response) before digging deeper to ask a qualitative question (i.e. providing a written response). The free version of OfficeVibe is suitable for a single team with up to 10 users. Larger businesses can request a quote.


  • SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey has long been in existence as a platform to conduct surveys for a wide range of purposes. As this site is not specifically intended for employee feedback surveys, there is no guide available for how best to create and conduct such surveys. SurveyMonkey does include a short page on employee feedback and includes several templates. Most likely, an organization would need to take time to create a customized survey form to gather and track responses from employees. The versatility of the question types in SurveyMonkey does provide an advantage over OfficeVibe. The free version of SurveyMonkey allows a maximum of 10 questions per survey and allows users to view 10 survey responses. 

Demonstrate Responsiveness by Creating a Calendar

Simply conducting an employee survey is not enough to boost employee morale and increase employee retention and productivity. Organizations must establish a feedback loop where a response to this feedback is reported back to the employees.

For the task of creating inclusive holiday celebrations in the workplace, managers have the ideal opportunity of creating a feedback loop in the form of an inclusive company holiday calendar. 

All requested holidays should be marked–not simply the holidays with the greatest number of requests. This way employees can see that their contributions are valued.

Every requested holiday should be present on the calendar to illustrate that the company values all employee voices. 

Employee Calendar Tools

The majority of apps available for the workforce focus on meetings and when employees will be present or absent from the workplace. Teams can adapt these collaborative tools to highlight key days that can be celebrated together to create a calendar that highlights a set of inclusive holiday celebrations in the workplace.


  • Google Calendar: Google Calendar is a free tool with the ability to grant permissions so all team members can add their own observed holidays. This tool also allows users to add layers of holidays to the default calendar by adding calendars by major religions, regions, and so forth. This function provides a wide variety of additions that are useful to add to a calendar that represents many marginalized groups requesting inclusive holiday celebrations in the workplace. 

  • ClickUp: If a team uses ClickUp as its project management platform, you can use the software company’s Holiday Planner template for team members to block out key dates. This holiday planner classifies holidays by both government holidays and requested vacation leave. Teams can import a Google Calendar into ClickUp’s Holiday Planner as well as add national holidays by selecting the nation from a drop-down list.

  • Apple Calendar: For Apple users, Apple Calendar is free and an alternative to Google Calendar. Team members can easily view and add to the calendar on their mobile devices or desktops. There may be some issues with compatibility if employees are not using primarily Apple devices. The Apple Calendar template allows users to select their nation to auto-populate the calendar with national holidays. This is a point where Google Calendar offers an advantage in users being able to add holidays by both nation and major religion. 

Make Each Holiday Celebration More Accessible

Often, organizations may find that employees from one background appreciate their traditional holiday being celebrated but also enjoy participating in other cultural holidays. Potentially, some employees may wish to celebrate their own holidays with accommodations.

In such cases, taking steps to modify each event to make it more accessible is crucial in creating inclusive holiday celebrations in the workplace.

For instance, some employees with religious dietary restrictions may wish to attend the Christmas celebration despite not typically observing Western holidays. All too often, employees who adhere to dietary restrictions face barriers to joining in on the festivities when no ingredients list is available to them so that all participants can determine what they can or cannot eat.  

Offering a complete ingredients list and accommodating various dietary needs is one way to ensure the accessibility of these inclusive holiday celebrations in the workplace.

Final Thoughts

While Christmas themes are constant in American media currently, the opportunity to focus on celebrating a wide range of holidays is not limited to December.

Cultural holidays are an exciting and engaging way to learn about other cultures and histories and present an opportunity for education on marginalized groups. Creating inclusive holiday celebrations in the workplace can become a regular practice to promote employee education with the company inviting guest speakers to present the history behind each holiday. 

The observation of a wide range of cultural holidays allows all employees to see their own cultures represented as well as learn about other cultures in a highly meaningful way.

Marion Davis is a contributing writer at She is a disabled DEIA consultant and writes on the value of diversity and inclusion across multiple industries, specifically as relates to disability and intersectionality.