Overhaul those Statutory Holidays

When was the last time you looked at your holidays? NOT the vacation allotment.  The statutory holidays?

Recently in the west, some of us celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with green beer, leprechauns and chocolate pots of gold. I had to visit four grocery stores before I finally found the brisket! All that running around made me realize how much we prioritize retail moments over our own family traditions and special occasions.

Most of us love fun celebrations like St. Patty’s Day, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, and anniversaries. And this year, I was struck by how little attention the grocery stores paid to St. Patrick’s Day compared to other holidays like Diwali, Ukrainian Christmas, and Chinese New Year.

The retail landscape is changing rapidly, the Christian perspective no longer dominates, and still, so many of us are unaware of the monthly celebrations that other nations bring to our country.

While Easter and Christmas are Christian-only holidays, some of the other long weekends celebrate long-gone leaders of colonialism. Labour Day originated in the 1900s and has lost its original meaning. And while Boxing Day has lost its lustre over the years, we still recognize it — for the sake of madness sales. Meanwhile, commemorations around significant global events like November 11th are hit or miss.

Worse, we don’t formally acknowledge the cultures and celebrations of our many multicultural neighbours and friends, who come with diverse backgrounds like Jewish, Polish, Scandinavian, Asian, Indian, French, Italian, Portuguese, Mexican, Armenian, Indigenous, and so much more.

It’s time to try something better that fits with the times. Let’s find a way of celebrating ALL humanity.

When I led a large manufacturing company, I implemented twelve statutory holidays, one for each month, in addition to regular vacation time. This effectively gave the team one day a month to spend quality time with their families and take care of personal errands without having to beg for time off.

I positioned all twelve holidays as earned and entitled compensation, with December always having at least two days off and July and August having no holidays. (The logic was most of the employees took their vacation during July and August.) No one ever took advantage of me or the days, nor did anyone try to weasel more time for themselves.

Unfortunately, the American company that eventually bought us saw the twelve days plus vacation time as excessive and scaled back to what they already offered their workforce. This short-sighted approach had disastrous effects on both our EBITDA and employee retention rates.

Instead of focusing solely on Christian, colonial and even outdated holidays, let’s consider, recognize and celebrate all cultures and nationalities. What about moving toward a one-day-a-month holiday pattern?

Lock in two days with the national statutory bin — the year of your country’s founding and New Year’s Day. For the other ten, pick a date that works best for your company, link that date to all the particular holidays, AND allow employees to have a say in how monthly celebrations are conducted.

We don’t need a holiday for every single celebration, but we do need to set aside one day a month to recognize all the celebrations that occur that month. No one nationality or culture is superior to another.

Yes, there may be a scheduling hiccup or two in the first year. Trust me, that pain is short-term. The knowledge you and your team gain from understanding the other people you work with, the uptick in employee satisfaction, and the significant increase in bottom-line profits are three excellent and long-term motivators for trying something new.

It’s one easy way to be more inclusive. It’s a straightforward way to recognize the diversity that exists in our workplaces and communities. And it rewards your bottom line with significant returns.

Spinning mirror ball for BPYBN



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