The holiday season is upon us once more, and many places of work will pull out all the stops to encourage festive feelings and bring everyone into a holly, jolly state of mind. While some may not consider industrial spaces to be a likely location for holiday cheer, they would be surprised to find that the opposite is often true. From decorated trees to celebrating with a traditional meal, from banding together to help a local charity to banding together to eat ALL the cookies, the possibilities for celebration are endless.

Here are 4 of our favorite ways to help industrial workers enjoy the holiday season

1. Create space for diversity.

The winter holidays are an excellent time for bonding over special activities, but some employers ignore them completely in order to avoid the potential for conflict among workers who observe different religious celebrations. There are multiple holidays among many religious practices between the middle of November through the beginning of January. Rather than dodging this variety, embrace it! This is a great time for everyone to broaden their horizons and learn about other religions and their holidays. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Work year-round to create a culture of inclusivity among employees. Take an interest in your workers’ holiday plans and invite them - but don’t push them - to share about their personal traditions. Celebrate the things you have in common and allow space for differences.

  • Ensure that end-of-the-year festivities aren’t specific to any one religion. Don’t forget to offer non-alcoholic, vegetarian, non-pork and non-dairy options for those who follow specific diets for religious reasons.

  • Put people of different religions on the party-planning committee, and/or survey all employees regarding the type of celebration in which they would like to participate.

2. Decorate, decorate, decorate!

Many of us spend at least half of our waking hours - and sometimes many more - at our place of work. It makes sense, then, that we want to add some seasonal decor to the office. Even industrial spaces can benefit from some added flair during the holidays. Being mindful of diversity in the workplace and the makeup of your staff, it’s a good idea to use either a mix of decorations for all the holidays represented among your employees or stick to a neutral, snowflakes-and-winter-weather theme. Winter plants such as holly, fir and pine used as garlands or small potted plants are a great way to bring natural beauty inside (and don’t forget the other benefits of bringing plants into the workplace, including purifying the air, boosting mood and increasing happiness).

With all of the fun of decorating, though, comes an increased need to vigilant about safety. Keep OSHA regulations in mind when decorating the workplace, paying particular attention to:

  • Trip hazards

  • Combustible materials

  • Exit route or sprinkler obstructions

  • Lighting safety 

3. Host a memorable celebration.

The end of the year is the perfect time to gather your employees and honor the work you do together and the bonds you share. There are as many ways to celebrate as there are individual companies. Some of our favorite ideas include:

  • Having an in-house catered lunch while offering a host of games for employees to play together.

  • Making a charitable donation as a company or participating as a group in a service opportunity.

  • Hosting an employee potluck dinner - this is a great way to create space for diversity and learn about the traditions of others.

  • Having a holiday cookie tasting, where the company supplies soft drinks, cider or an extravagant hot chocolate bar while each of the employees brings in a batch of (homemade or store-bought) baked goodies. 

4. Allow employees to take time off.

The winter holidays often involve seasonal travel and time spent with extended family. As much as possible, support your workers by giving them the flexibility they need to take vacation days. Offering floating holidays as part of your paid holidays policy can give people honoring different celebrations the freedom to take the time off that they need.

Perhaps you find yourself in a position when you really just can’t give everyone the time off that they want during this busy season. If that’s the case, there are a few things you can do for your employees to make working through the holidays less burdensome:

  • Provide a meal or a special snack to those who may be missing a meal with their families.

  • Give your employees mini-breaks. With the option of taking an hour or 2 off throughout the day, your workers may be able to make an appearance at family gatherings or religious observances.

  • Help your team understand the importance of their presence at work - and don’t forget to say, “Thank you!”

Being a manager can be a challenge, and this is no less true during the busy holiday season. But with some focused attention on your employees, your environment, and your business culture, you can help your workers enjoy the holidays, both when they are at work and when they are away.