Some businesses are enjoying and some are adapting to another year without spending holidays in person at the office.
I don't miss the temptation of having lots of cookies, cakes and other generally unhealthy food around, but I do miss sharing stories, traditions, and goodwill with co-workers during the holidays. I worked for a company several years ago that had a cookie exchange. I was the only one to bring vegan holiday cookies and the co-worker who had a dairy allergy was the only one who appreciated that I did provide a plant-based option.
Many are missing the gatherings, the company Christmas party, and all that comes with holiday cheer, but for some it's bittersweet. Many who are working from home for major companies in the U.S., but practice religions outside of Christianity and Judaism, aren't interested in observing holidays that are not part of their religious practice. One Hindu friend of mine shared with me that he's glad that he won't be bombarded with Christmas gifts and cards, since he doesn't celebrate that holiday in general. But he did share with me that it would be cool if more companies learned about Diwali and observed it.
Businesses are beginning to realize that supporting diversity and inclusion improves the health and wellness of their employees. It's not hard to add Diwali to the company calendar, but it can help an employee who is Hindu and might be missing their family and perhaps even co-workers. You don't have to observe all holidays, but acknowledging the holidays that matter to your employees, ALL EMPLOYEES, can really help.
Alternately, part of honoring diversity and inclusion in a company is respecting an employees position with not wanting to participate in a holiday event that isn't of interest to them, without the awkwardness coming from co-workers who do celebrate a holiday.
While there might be some who are joyful that they won't feel obligated to enter an ugly sweater contest just to gain favor with their boss, or deal with hearing Christmas carols playing from clock-in to clock-out -- there are some who look forward to wearing the costumes and decorating their cubicles to represent all of the holidays that are important to them. Using zoom or any other teleconferencing system that is permitted for employees to gather remotely can help remedy the feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). It's not the same as seeing co-workers in person, but at least teams can gather and celebrate virtually. Having human connections, even if it is done through the lens of technology, can help.
The White elephant and Secret Santa gift exchanges aren't going to be the same while many are working remote or in hybrid work schedules, but you can still organize gift giving and get creative about it too. Most people would prefer ordering gifts and having them sent to cut out time and money spent giftwrapping and you can also give creative useful gifts like a membership for a meal prep service like Freshly or something handmade by an artist selling on Etsy.
Beating the Blues
Beyond gift giving and all that is tied to consumerism, employees are focusing on the values they believe in and the traditions they practice. Connecting with family and community can help in beating depression, stress, anxiety and so many other mental health challenges many are experiencing in excess. Connecting with the ones we love is important, but it's also helpful to have a professional to speak with in confidence, who isn't our co-workers, family and friends. Betterhelp offers over 27,000 different licensed therapists and social workers who specialize in subjects ranging from LGBTQ issues to issues that people of color face in workspaces and in life. It takes 24 to 48 hours to connect with one of their therapists and while you wait to connect, you can learn more about immediate and long term solutions to combat the holiday blues and stressors.
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