Human resources: Be mindful about holidays

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Laizer Kornwasser

Q. Should we celebrate holidays at work?

A. During December, a common greeting heard by many employees in the United States is,“Happy Holidays.” There are millions of Americans who don’t celebrate a holiday in December, either due to not having a religious affiliation, or because their religious holiday(s) is/are observed during a different time of the year.

Additionally, there are those who celebrate a holiday in December; however, they find this time of year to be traumatic, and/or a tremendous source of stress.

For some, depression tends to increase during the holidays, stemming from financial stress, family issues, a surge in demands, and/or being unable to manage expectations. Common family issues that frequently complicate the holidays include recent loss, illness, abuse, or divorce. As such, it is our responsibility to ensure that no one feels excluded or pressured to participate in holiday workplace festivities. As a workplace leader, how can you support this?

  • Be collaborative: Ask your staff how they’d prefer to celebrate (or not) the holidays at work this year.
  • Be inclusive: Make all workplace holiday parties non-denominational.
  • Be compassionate: Approach employees who are undergoing or have undergone difficult family situations with empathy and compassion.
  • Be sensitive: Consider the audience you are addressing when discussing any holiday plans. Moderate what you share regarding your personal holiday preparations, especially if they are more extravagant, including attending large family gatherings or luxury excursions. Don’t press others about their holiday plans, unless you are certain that they are openly sharing this information with other employees. 
  • Be appreciative: Use the end of the year to show appreciation.


In summary, while it may be common practice to wish employees a “Happy Holiday” during December, please be mindful that there are some who do not consider this time of year to be “happy,” and others who do not consider it a “holiday.”

Laizer Kornwasser is president/COO at CareCentrix. Reach him at laizer.kornwasser@carecentrix.com.