With so many non-secular holidays in Q4, it’s particularly important to make sure your business is considerate of all your team’s diverse religious traditions, and that this consideration is reflected in your HR policies. Creating an environment that accommodates all employees isn’t just a way to avoid a lawsuit — it’s an opportunity to create a company culture that’s focused, fun, and collaborative. Here’s where to start.

Do Your Research

If you’re a manager or HR professional, it’s a good idea to at least peruse some of the basic traditions of major religions you aren’t familiar with. The Center for Association Leadership has a brief roundup of some of the most popular religions in the US here — it’s a great place to start!

Respect Privacy

Not everyone feels comfortable explaining their belief system to a group, and it’s not their responsibility to do so. Create a way for employees to offer anonymous feedback on office policies, parties, etc. Take feedback and use it to create better policies without attributing the change to any one person or belief system.

Get a Handle on Holidays

Requesting time off can be nerve-wracking. No one wants to appear like they’re slacking off, or experience financial hardship due to an extended absence. There are ways to make religion-based time off requests less stressful all around with a little research and flexibility. If you use Google calendars, you can search for and add calendars with major religious holidays from a variety of traditions so that they’ll be on your radar. Most importantly, be fair in your paid leave policies.

Be Flexible

Offer flexible work options, especially around the holiday seasons. Consider allowing employees the option of clocking in a few hours earlier, out a few hours later, or putting some hours in over the weekend. This will make it easier for employees to enjoy their time off without worrying about getting too far behind or taking a hard financial hit from unpaid leave. FingerCheck offers features like a web-based application and in-app time off requests that make it simple to manage workers based remotely or working on a non-conventional schedule.

Party On– Respectfully

Don’t just call it a holiday party, and then have clearly non-secular decor. Work with your team to create a theme that’s more focused and more relevant to your brand, and chances are you’ll end up with an event that’s more fun to attend and does a better job bringing your team together. You could, as Suzanne Lucas suggests over at Inc, try something completely different and leave the office for some bowling or mini-golf for some collaborative, stress-busting fun.

Your turn! Tell us: what steps do you take to make sure your office is considerate of all employees? Is there anything you’ve noticed even well-meaning companies fail to take into account?

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