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Not only in December

As I watch family and friends anxiously gathering gifts and cards to send, I marvel at the fact that several are not for the holiday that most of us would presume for December. Several families celebrate Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and Hanukkah as well. Special days do not necessarily mean a holiday at all. Occasions like the joy that a child's birth brings and, unfortunately, the sadness that comes with the death of a loved one come to mind. There are special days throughout the year, which may include your employees' participation.

The following is a small sampling that are acknowledged yearly:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Chinese New Year

Summer Solstice

Rosh Hashanah

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Canada Day

Indigenous People's Day

911 Remembrance Day

Ash Wednesday


Boxing Day

Cinco de Mayo

Festivus (Yep, this is a real and not just from Seinfeld)

You may be asking what do holidays and special days have to do with employee engagement and why?

Engagement is when employees personally value and are passionate about the work they do to the point that it does not feel like work at all. They take the initiative and are energized and not discouraged by obstacles. For example, if you have an employee who acknowledges a religious holiday in the minority of what their peers on the team celebrates and requests a day off to do so, and you say "no". This reaction is an obstacle for your employee, that prevents engagement. The result could include apathy and detachment (disengagement) from the work setting, affecting productivity. Inviting everyone to attend the company holiday party also presents challenges at year's end. Again, you might be asking - Why? Some of your employees may not share the same holiday, and some may not share a holiday at all.

Not having a party or getting together and allowing employees to work through the end of the year is also problematic and can create burnout and apathy. Now you might be irritated with me. First, I am stating to be mindful of the holidays and special days in your employees' lives, and then I am sharing that doing so may alienate some members of your team. The following might be your question:

Don't worry. I have an answer for you. Throw an end of the year party for your team or employees. Yes, I know we are amid a pandemic, and social distancing is in place. Host a party on your safe digital platform of choice. Invite your team and their family members to attend. You will be surprised at how much fun it can be. One of the organizations that I serve as a member of the board of directors had such a party, and it was super fun! In stating that we are in a pandemic, keep in mind that some of your employees may have experienced personal losses through this time. A card, a phone call, or a listening ear can do wonders. Engagement is an ongoing process. It is not one size fits all and is ever evolving.

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