How to Avoid Conflict During the Holidays

For many people, Thanksgiving is the start to a celebratory season. The remaining weeks between December and January are a time of merriment reflecting good will, peace, and connection.  It’s a happy time for the diverse cultural traditions in this country.

For HR departments, this can be a very challenging time. It’s a big responsibility to referee cultural conflicts and make sure that each holiday is represented fairly in the workplace. Here are a few tips to help you sidestep sensitive issues and avoid workplace conflict during the holiday season.

Be Aware that Conflict May Arise

Though the holidays may be a time of peace and celebration, the workplace is about fairness, productivity, and teamwork.  Sometimes the two conflict with each other.  Recognize that different employees have different perspectives of how the holidays should be acknowledged in the workplace, and don’t be caught off guard if disagreements happen. The joyful holidays do have the potential to become a source of strife, so you need to be prepared and have a plan of action to resolve any conflict.

Keep an Open Mind

As an employer, you have the right to ignore the holidays, except for state or federally mandated days off. However, it’s important to keep an open mind about the holidays so you don’t undermine employee morale or hurt your company brand.  If an employee complains that their holiday isn’t represented on equal footing as another, take the complaint seriously and ask what they would like to change.  Be accommodating whenever possible.

Don’t Negatively Accommodate

It’s important to recognize the difference in between positive and negative accommodation in the workplace.  Employees should be allowed to advocate for their holiday, but they should not be allowed to advocate against someone else’s.  Asking for a menorah to be displayed in the reception area is appropriate.  Asking for a Christmas tree to be taken down because someone finds it offensive is not.

Offer Floating Vacation Days

Show that you’re respectful of diverse cultural celebrations by offering floating holiday PTO instead of assigned time off.  This allows employees to choose when they want to celebrate instead of forcing everyone to take the same time off.

Make Educated Decisions

Don’t make bad decisions in an effort to please everyone that has a complaint.  There’s a fine line between discouraging holiday cheer and religious expression in the workplace.  The latter can put you in a heap of legal trouble. When confused about legal implications of a complaint, request, or demand, take the time to consult with your legal advisors in order to made an educated decision on the matter.  Think before you implement new policies or alter decorations.

Have Security in Place

Though most workplace conflicts are easily resolved, tension can be extra high during the holiday season.  If you have a feeling conflict may arise, take preventative measures by using BOS Security services to have an onsite officer during the busy holiday season.  Professional Security Officers from BOS Security will monitor the environment and help mitigate the risk of conflict. Visit bossecurity.com today to see the added benefits our security services can provide to your organization.

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