As a good employer, it is important to cater for all individuals, cultures, beliefs, and religions. Not all employees would want a party that includes a meal or alcohol, or in a venue that may not be sufficiently accessible or provide inclusive catering options e.g. vegan, vegetarian and halal. There could be a number of known and unknown reasons which could raise concerns for your employees, and this is what makes organising an event tricky.
It is important to note that normal work behaviour rules apply a work event such as a party, including, disciplinary, grievance and absence management. The employer still has a duty of care for all its employees, even if the event happens outside of normal working hours.
Purpose of the event
Understanding the purpose of the event is important, for example whether it is a celebration or thank you for the whole company. With a diverse group of employees, employers may consider whether a party is the best way to reward your employees.
A great starting point is to understand what is valued by your employees. Check the religions or beliefs that people follow in your Company and if you do not have this information available, make a request for it to be shared with you.
It is important to consider where the party is held and whether the venue is associated with a particular religion, culture or belief. When planning decorations, ensure there are no religious references made in communal areas; these may be religious symbols, words, or references. Enabling employees to decorate their workspace with decorations that are important to them is likely to be received positively and a review of future dates of celebration is important to ensure that the event does not fall on a religious date or day.
In terms of naming the event, consider making it a neutral name, such as an End-Of-Year party, or New Year Party, as Christmas might not be an event observed by all. If you regularly celebrate other religious events, then naming it a Christmas Party would be acceptable.
When to hold the event?
Some employees may need to make additional arrangements to attend a Company celebration, so it is important to give as much notice as possible. If your company has multiple sites and would like to hold one event for everyone, consideration will need to be given in regard to transport and accommodation for those who need to travel. Making the event non-compulsory to attend and potentially offering an alternative should an individual not want to go, might also be valued, such as a hamper or a voucher.
It is also important to remember to invite those who are on family leave or sick leave, so that they feel included and valued.
It is a great opportunity to learn about other religions that your employees follow and include celebrations for these. This would demonstrate your inclusive approach and how you value the diversity of your employees. Examples you may wish to consider are:
- Hindu employees celebrating Diwali, which occurs in either October or November.
- Muslim employees who fast during Ramadan and the celebration of Eid ul Fitr. The dates are changeable.
- Hannukah, the Jewish celebration, which falls late November and December.
- Buddhist celebrate Bodhi Day which is traditionally celebrated on 8th December.
- Lunar New Year is a traditional Chinese holiday.
All these celebrations fall towards the end of the year, so you could consider a multi-celebration party.
What to wear?
When considering the dress code for an event, it is important to remember that employees may not be able to afford a new outfit, black tie or dressing up themes, and some employees may feel excluded. Therefore, keeping the dress code similar the workplace dress code will enable more employees to feel comfortable and included.
Here are some great activity ideas that would support team building, cross department team working and encourage collaboration within teams:
- Trivia or Music Quiz
- Scavenger Hunt
- Murder Mystery Games
- Board Games
- Employee Involvement
If you are unsure about the what, the when and where, you could set up a diverse employee group and ask for ideas and feedback on what they would like to be considered. In some workplaces hampers, vouchers or other alternatives have been given to employees rather than a company event and this approach has been preferred.
It is often said Christmas is a time for giving and as an Employer you like to take part in charitable fundraising and make a donation it is worth considering whether this would be appropriate with the present economic climate, as it may be difficult for individuals to be able to support it if employee donations are sought.