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Celebrate MY Holiday: an HR Fail

December 13, 2011

The HR and Employment Law blogosphere has been chock-full of holiday posts over the last several weeks.  Topics have covered ground such as “Top 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Give your Boss a Gift” to “Avoid These 6 Fashion Mistakes at the Corporate Shindig” to “Drinking at the Company Holiday Party; How Much is Too Much?”

When it comes to navigating through the end-of-the-year holidays, we in HR are a cautious bunch.  And depending upon geographic location and/or company environment, we’ve quite possibly been accused of being overly concerned with political-correctness.  Over the years I’ve heard the rallying cries from folks who felt that during the holiday season their religion was being downplayed or excluded at the expense of others – “Don’t forget that Jesus is the Reason for Season!” (they’ve said) or “As a company we need to put the Christ back in Xmas!”

Now I would say that most HR practitioners have approached religious holidays appropriately and have educated others in their organizations.  We understand that not everyone celebrates the same holidays and we can explain why some Christian holidays also happen to be the days our businesses close. We’re mindful of ensuring that we accommodate employees with religious beliefs in order to allow them to celebrate when and how they desire.

But this year, interestingly enough, I came across an HR lady Manager who not only belittled a Jewish employee’s faith and desire to add Hanukkah dates to a department calendar, but then proceeded to subtly/not-so-subtly try to convert this employee.  “How would you like to come to Mass with me?” and “You know, if you don’t believe in Christmas, maybe you don’t need to participate in the office gift exchange.”   Reminds me of the pietists who, in 19th century Prussia, worked to convince my maternal great-great grandmother to migrate on over to the religion of Luther.

Swell move there HR Manager. Guess you missed the class and/or conference session on Title VII.

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I’ve always loved this time of year.  I’ve also known for quite some time that not everyone venerates the baby Jesus.  And I didn’t have to work in HR to come to that realization.

Sharing of other cultural and religious traditions can be a mighty cool thing.  Seek out friends, employees and neighbors who are celebrating Bodhi Day or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or Yule/Saturnalia and find out a bit about what makes their celebrations special to them.

No reason we all can’t light the Yule log, spin the dreidel and enjoy some holiday cheer together.

Oh heck, I’ll just settle for my fellow human beings allowing others to do whichever one of those they wish to do.

Happy Holidays!

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p.s. for some super HR-related holiday reading, check out Alison Chisnell’s great blog series over at the HR Juggler – 2011: Highlights and Horrors.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Phyllis Hill permalink
    December 13, 2011 3:49 pm

    As always great blog. Unfortunately, it is a shame that some “HR Managers” do not consider it cool to share cultures and religious traditions.

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