Religious Diversity in the Workplace
When the holidays[i]such as Christmas or Easter are approaching, often a topic of religious diversity in the workplace comes to mind. Working in such environment has great benefits but it also comes with its challenges.
Around Christmas and Easter all around us, a holiday spirit arises. The streets are beautifully decorated; in shops, we see items that are associated with usually Christian Holidays (Santa Clause for Christmas or Bunny on Easter). It surely feels like the entire world is celebrating this special time with us. However, even if it doesn’t feel like it, we must remember that only around 30% people on the planet are Christian. The other 70% of earth inhabitants are Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu (or are part of other, less known religion). We must remember that people of other faiths might not appreciate big religious celebrations in the workplace. Managing the right balance falls on manager’s or business owner’s shoulders.
Navigating in such environment might be tricky. When trying to embrace the religious diversity in the workplace we should remember few ground rules:
#1 Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion
Regardless of the faith, your employees were brought up with, they might not like to pursue that path anymore or maybe they chose other religion in their adult life, or on the contrary decided not to follow any religion. The choice is theirs so be certain that you are not imposing on with any unwanted behaviours.
#2 Avoid forcing employees to participate in religious activities
If you decide to arrange a small celebration of any religious holiday make sure no worker will be forced to take part in it unwillingly. Also, be open with your celebration, include any employee who wishes to participate, even if he or she is of a different faith. Learning about each other’s faith can bring the employees closer together which can result in better collaboration and atmosphere at work.
#3 Religion is a deeply personal thing
So allow your employees to experience it the way they would like to. If they like to keep their religion private, allow it.
#4 Be flexible with needs of different employees
Remember that special holidays might fall under different dates depending on the religion. Make sure that any important work – related affairs are not scheduled on the same day.
Creating a successful multireligious unit
Bonding of workers of different religions might sometimes be challenging but is crucial to effective collaboration among employees. As a company’ owner or a manager, you should assure that people will get to know each other also on a personal level. Learning about each other’s live outside work will strengthen the understanding between them. This also applies to a comprehension of their religion. To achieve better understanding you should plan carefully all events around the office. You should also utilise the knowledge of your employees of different faiths. Here are few ideas that you should take into consideration:
- Have workers of different cultural and religious backgrounds help organise any office parties or events
- Display a Cultural Events Calendar so each employee has a chance to familiarise himself or herself with different holidays and dates
- Post greetings for most popular religions
- Make sure that no office events has any religious theme