As families gather to mark holiday traditions this season, it’s important for employers to educate themselves about their employees to provide an inclusive culture for religion in their workplace.
Whether the religious holidays are Hanukkah, Christmas, or Three Kings Day, find ways to support your employees. The key is to understand who your employees are and what matters to them.
Take time to learn more about other religions, and, if invited to discuss the topic, ask your employees about their specific practices. Your attitude serves as a model for others. Make sure your employees know it’s important to be aware of and respect other workers’ religions and beliefs.
Be careful not to recognize one religion more than another. Referring to holiday parties as Christmas parties or scheduling them on non-Christian holidays could make your non-Christian employees feel excluded.
Hartford International University for Religion and Peace offers ways to ensure religious diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace:
- Represent publicly employees of different religious faiths through your company’s website and social media.
- Use an interfaith calendar to avoid scheduling meetings and events on days that would conflict with religious observances such as those that prohibit working or require fasting.
- Create a culture that encourages conversations and education about religious diversity.
- Be aware of your own assumptions or biases about different religions.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must reasonably accommodate employees’ sincerely held religious, ethical and moral beliefs or practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. An undue hardship is an accommodation that would pose a significant cost to the company or major disruption in the company’s operations.
Employers also should be aware of state and local laws that may address religion in the workplace. New York state, for example, has a law that prohibits discrimination against employees for wearing clothing or facial hair associated with their religion.
Though you can’t ask employees what religion they observe, you can survey employees on what they consider important. One idea might be to distribute an employee survey about recognizing more holidays. Ask which ones they would like to see added.
Does your workforce have Muslims who pray at specific times each day? Are some of your employees Jews who observe Shabbat from sunset Friday until sunset Saturday? Some examples of accommodations employers could make are:
- Designating space in the building for prayers or worship.
- Providing paid time off or floating holidays for personal reasons.
- Permitting the use of vacation time for religious holidays.
- Allowing employees to make up time taken for religious observances.
For example, a company policy could allow employees to take a religious holiday off if it doesn’t cause an undue hardship for the department, with management encouraging supervisors to accommodate requests for time off if practicable. Employees might be required to give at least two weeks’ notice for the requested time off. If the supervisor and Human Resources representative agree the time can’t be given without an undue hardship to the department, alternatives would be discussed with employees.
A retail business might only have seven holidays because it must be open and have employees working on holidays other people have off. Businesses such as movie theaters and gas stations are open on Christmas Day. Companies might offer the day off on a rotating or first-come, first-served basis.
Keep in mind that not everyone from a particular religion follows the same practices. There is much diversity within religions, said Dr. Lucinda Mosher in a November webinar hosted by AARP and Hartford International University.
“I would never want to imply that everybody who claims a particular religion label thinks alike, or acts alike, or has had the same basic experiences,” she said.
If employers want to broaden their workforce and hire people with diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, they must ensure company policies are empathetic to all their employees. Try to keep your employees happy, but be sure to comply with employment laws.
If you have any questions about how to support diverse religions in your workplace, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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50+ Job Seekers workshops
The 50+ Job Seekers Networking Group’s workshops are free and virtual on Zoom.
Upcoming December workshops are:
- Monday, Dec. 19, 10 to 11:30 a.m.: Interview Practice with Melody Beach.
For good or bad, first impressions matter. When interviewing, you need to put your best foot forward and that takes practice! Join us to learn how to respond to a variety of questions that may be presented to you during an interview.
- Tuesday, Dec. 20, 10 to 11:30 a.m.: “Networking and Concise Introductions,” an interactive workshop with Melody Beach.
About 80 percent of all job searches are done online, but 85 percent of jobs are filled through networking. Networking is critical to your job search, but it’s feared by most people. Let’s overcome that fear.
Join us as we review the principles of networking and learn how to present yourself at a networking event or job interview.
- Thursday, Dec. 29, 2 to 3:30 p.m.: “An Afternoon at the Improv.”
Last month we introduced An Afternoon at the Improv. It was so well-received we’re bringing it back for an encore performance!
Join us for this different way of preparing for interviews and networking conversations.
Improvisational theater is unplanned and unscripted; it’s created spontaneously by the performers. We’ll start with fun and simple improv that has nothing to do with interviewing or the job search, then add in some crazy situations and more performers.
This event is being offered by 50+ Job Seekers and sponsored by the Institute for Career Transitions.
Reserve a spot for an event offered by 50+ Job Seekers of Massachusetts through your online registration/login account at https://50plusjobseekers.org/login/. If you haven’t registered, you will be asked to complete the registration form. If you have questions about the process, contact email@example.com.
The virtual doors open 15 minutes before each program starts.
Reach out to me
Contact me by downloading my digital business card by texting HRPRO to 21000 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.