No matter where your company is located, some worldwide holidays are just plain enjoyable, such as International Fun at Work Day. Doing the same job day in and out tends to get tedious after a while. One way to keep employees engaged and reduce churn rate is by embracing different types of celebrations.
About 50 percent of global employees now report they work outside their main office at least 2.5 days each week. Remote workers are commonplace in today’s highly competitive economy, which means you might have employees in other countries. If the only holidays you celebrate are American, you’re missing out on some interesting cultural learning for the rest of your staff, as well as celebrations that might tie in perfectly to what you do for a living.
Here are 11 tips to help you celebrate international holidays and gain traction from your efforts.
1. Stay Away From Controversial Holidays
When looking for international holidays to celebrate with your workers, avoid anything that might be seen as controversial. There are hundreds of different holidays from which to choose, but you don’t want to narrow the focus so much that you celebrate only one culture and leave out the rest.
Try to find holidays that embrace a wide variety in a particular culture, such as Chinese New Year, which is celebrated by many Asian countries and not just one small area. Your goal with celebrations should be to bring everyone together, so if you fear there is any hint of controversy, find a different focus.
2. Embrace a Cause
On the other hand, there are some causes nearly everyone can get behind, such as International Literacy Day. No matter where your workers and customers reside, they are all likely to agree that fighting for literacy is a good cause. Give your employees half the day to volunteer at a local library or with a reading program if they’d like. Get a cake shaped like books, hire a storyteller to come into the workplace or have someone give a talk on a literacy topic, such as becoming a better business writer.
3. Find Something That Ties Into Your Brand
Look at celebrations that tie into your industry in some way. If you raise chickens, is there an international chicken cookoff? Perhaps there is a poultry farmers day. Think about anything that ties into your product that enhances it in some way, and then search a holiday calendar to find a theme for your next celebration.
MECO embraced World Water Week and sought to bring awareness to its customers by providing a quiz and infographics. MECO’s product is pure water and systems, so the holiday perfectly matched what it does.
4. Start Your Own Day
If you can’t find an international holiday that ties into your business, look at starting your own event. Perhaps you are a pet groomer and want to host a hug your golden retriever day. You would announce the holiday ahead of time, drum up interest on social media, and encourage people to use a specific hashtag and upload photos of them with their dogs.
5. Tap Into a Popular Holiday
Another idea is to find a popular international holiday, such as International Women’s Day, and tap into the traction the event already gets on social media. For example, you might highlight some of the amazing women in your company and post stories about them on social media. There are several international holidays celebrated by most of the world, including Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Day.
Lenovo embraced International Women’s Day by highlighting what the world might look like without the contributions of women. It used the hashtag IWD plus the year. Each year also has a specific theme, such as #BalanceforBetter, which helps users find your posts on social media about women. People celebrate IWD on March 8 each year.
6. Recognize Your Trade Partners
If you do business with a specific country the majority of the time, it might behoove you to recognize their holidays. For example, if you partner with a company in Canada and you’re based in the United States, it’s good to know when they aren’t in the office, such as for Victoria Day on May 20 and their Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. You can either observe the holiday and give your employees the day off, plan in-house training for those days or go on a companywide retreat.
7. Make Work Fun Again
Each company has a culture of its own. If you want your company culture to be fun and engaging, celebrate International Fun at Work Day on April 1. Planning events might also keep those pranksters from planning things, which could aggravate their co-workers or get them into trouble. Have a movie event, host a lunchtime gathering with catered food and cake, and pass out awards for different accomplishments, such as best dressed or most punctual.
Buffer is known for its amazing company culture and flexible work schedule. It encouraged unlimited time off, but found employees weren’t taking as many days as they should, so have gone to a three-week minimum time-off model. Because it runs a remote, international team with all different holidays observed, it asks employees to take time to celebrate any public holidays in their country.
8. Create Flexibility
Be sensitive as you go through this process and avoid international holidays that might make anyone feel uncomfortable. If a majority of your workforce observes Christmas, for example, you’re likely to lose valued employees if you don’t give them time off. However, be aware of workers who celebrate on different days for another religion, and offer them the option to be off for family events whenever works best for them.
9. Give Back
GivingTuesday happens every December and is a day when people are encouraged to donate to the charity of their choice. The goal is to up the money nonprofits raise, but it also occurs during a time when people are looking for end-of-year tax breaks and may want to give more than they normally would. Tap into this day by thinking about ways your company can give back. It might be by donating profits or by allowing your employees to volunteer.
Jersey Mike’s put its own twist on GivingTuesday and make it Jersey Mike’s Day of Giving. The last Wednesday in March, the company donates 100 percent of the profits to a local charity. It has raised more than $7.3 million for charities in the communities they serve.
10. Make It About Employees
If you want to instantly improve company culture, think up a holiday you can observe that pulls everyone into the fun of the day and gives employees a break from the stress and monotony of a typical workday. For example, you might tap into National Red Rose Day and give every employee a red rose, serve cupcakes that look like roses and throw a party for your crew.
11. Acknowledge Special Holidays for Others
The most successful brands keep in-depth notes on those they serve, both customers and employees. Sometimes, just a quick note or a card signaling you know the person celebrates on this day is all that is needed. Send a Christmas or Hanukah card. If you serve a client who lives in China, send them a note wishing them a happy Chinese New Year. Do your research and put in a little extra effort, and you’ll stand out from your competitors.
Holidays Are Natural Breaks
Celebrating holidays as a company offers a natural break for employees. When workers feel appreciated and have room to breathe, they excel in their jobs and become more productive and loyal to your brand. Building a company culture of fun and mutual interests also reduces your churn rate and increases profits, as you don’t waste time and money recruiting and training new workers. If you don’t already recognize international holidays, look at one or more you can add to your schedule and enjoy the festivities.