The holiday season brings a whole new level of complexity to the workplace, with employers struggling to balance recessionary frugality with celebration, diversity awareness with the traditions of Christmas.
Some companies have found creative ways to avoid the problem entirely, either choosing to emphasize Thanksgiving as the National holiday, or focusing on New Year’s celebrations.
Other companies have maintained a traditional approach, with Christmas decorations, Secret Santa exchanges and office Christmas parties.
There should be a middle ground.
Unfortunately, I haven’t heard any examples of employers who been successful this year in striking that balance.
Here’s an example that a Facebook friend of mine shared with me. He received this note from one of his friends in the U.K.:
“In recognition of The Year of The Employee, we are placing free fruit in the cafeteria from 11 a.m. until 11:15 a.m. Individuals are asked to queue in a civilised manner, taking one piece of fruit (1 banana, 1 apple, or 1 orange), and disposing of the fruit remains properly in the refuse receptacles provided. Thank you.”
Now, I realize that there are cultural differences between the U.S. and our friends “across the pond.” However, I can’t believe that the employees being recognized with 15 minutes of free fruit felt the level of appreciation that the organizers intended.
In fact, I have to wonder if there was some sort of fruit incident in the cafeteria that day.
I’d love to hear your examples of effective workplace holiday programs, as well as well-intended employee holiday celebration efforts gone wrong. Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments below.