Celebrating Chinese New Year 2024 in your workplace: A quick guide for HR in summary:
- Celebrating Chinese New Year as part of a strong DE&I initiative can be a positive and inclusive practice for any business.
- However, you must ensure that any celebrations are conducted authentically and with respect for diverse perspectives within the workforce.
- Other considerations for HR include taking a balanced approach, having inclusive activities and seeking employee input.
On the 10th February 2024, millions of people worldwide will join in celebration of the Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, marks the beginning of the lunar new year. Based on the Chinese zodiac, each year is associated with an animal sign and one of the five elements. 2024 will be the Year of the Dragon: an animal that symbolises power, wisdom, wealth, good fortune and success.
However, this gloriously celebratory occasion isn’t just a time for personal festivities around the world. It also provides a brilliant opportunity for workplaces to embrace diversity and create more inclusive environments.
Celebrating Chinese New Year as part of organisation’s own DE&I initiatives can be a positive and inclusive practice – if it’s done authentically and with respect for diverse perspectives within the workforce, of course. Plus, it should be just one component of a broader strategy to create more inclusive workplace cultures.
So, how can HR teams help companies celebrate this event authentically and join in with one of the world’s most dazzling events? Here are some key considerations for you:
Seek input from your employees
As any activities you initiate are aimed to involve your employees, seek their input as to their preferences regarding cultural celebrations such as Chinese New Year. This could be done through a short pulse survey or more formal workshops or focus groups. Doing this ensures any of your celebratory initiatives align with the preferences of your workforce and are not wasted.
Take a balanced approach and avoid tokenism
While it can be fun to celebrate cultural events, it’s equally important to ensure a balanced approach with any activities you plan. Consider recognising and celebrating diverse cultural and religious events throughout the year to avoid favouring one group over another. This will also prevent people within your organisation feeling overlooked.
It’s also important to remember that any celebration is genuine and not perceived as tokenism or simply a ‘box ticking exercise’. After all, authenticity is crucial in fostering an inclusive workplace environments and cultures. So, consider how you can make any activities as authentic as possible.
Highlight the cultural significance of the event
If you’re a company that operates on a global stage (or even if you’re not!), you could consider organising brief educational sessions about the cultural significance of Chinese New Year – especially if you have customers or employees who celebrate the event.
This is where you can share insights into the customs, traditions, and the meaning behind various celebratory practices. This not only promotes understanding, but also enriches the collective knowledge of the workforce.
Consider flexible working arrangements during the celebrations
If you have employees in your business who’ll be actively celebrating, consider offering flexible working arrangements – such as remote work options or adjusted schedules – to accommodate them if they’re celebrating Chinese New Year with their families or participating in cultural events.
Offering flexible working arrangements during Chinese New Year is a thoughtful and inclusive measure that recognises the cultural significance of the holiday. It will also demonstrate your company’s commitment to the wellbeing of its diverse workforce – so a win-win all round!
Plan workplace events
If your workforce is primarily based in a shared workspace (such as an office), plan and coordinate cultural events, such as traditional music performances, dance demonstrations, or workshops on Chinese art and calligraphy. You could also encourage the exchange of symbolic red envelopes or “hongbao” among employees. These envelopes can contain well-wishing notes or small tokens of appreciation, fostering a positive and festive atmosphere.
Those types of activities provide a unique opportunity for employees to learn and appreciate different aspects of Chinese culture, and have a bit of fun in the process, too.
Encourage feedback for future events or initiatives
Lastly, always seek feedback from your employees as to their thoughts on any activities you undertake.
Getting feedback from your employees about their preferences for cultural celebrations, including Chinese New Year, is an essential practice for fostering a workplace culture that genuinely reflects the needs and interests of its diverse workforce. Doing this will also mean you can tailor future events, support your employee engagement activities and actively empower your employees.
Kim Holdroyd has an MSc in HRM and is passionate about all things HR and people operations, specialising in the employee life cycle, company culture, and employee empowerment. Her career background has been spent with various industries, including technology start-ups, gaming software, and recruitment.