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Make year-end celebrations inclusive

BY SHRM online staff

When HR Magazine asked readers how to thank employees with holiday festivities, human resource professionals responded with plenty of good ideas. One theme emerged, however: Make sure everyone feels included.

It can be difficult to stay religiously neutral during year-end celebrations, according to Melissa Fulwider of Augusta Iron & Steel Works Inc. in Augusta, Ga. Her advice was selected by HR Magazine staff as the winning response to the first HR Solutions Challenge, a monthly contest sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Her response contained a variety of ideas that were echoed by other contest participants:

• Thank employees for their work throughout the year.

• Give everyone a small gift.

• Share a meal with employees.

“Employers should never assume every employee celebrates holidays in the same way,” wrote Lyn Maylone, an HR manager from the Detroit area, in her contest submission. She suggested employers allow employees to plan activities, such as a potluck luncheon or food drive, without tying either activity to a specific holiday.

Host a New Year’s Eve kind of celebration, suggested April L. Braun, an HR professional from Iowa. “Focus on thanking employees for a successful year and encouraging the same enthusiasm and dedication to the company for the approaching New Year,” she wrote in her entry.

“A small gift or token of the company’s appreciation for all the employees have done throughout the year goes a long way towards making them feel valued and appreciated,” wrote Lisa Kemph, an HR director from Jacksonville, Fla., in her entry.

“Celebrate ‘esprit de corps’ over religion,” suggested Howard Spiegel, a Houston-based HR consultant, in his contest submission. Avoid symbols or activities that could exclude employees or lead to legal trouble. Among his suggestions:

• Don’t hang mistletoe.

• If there is music, consider the playlist.

• Limit religious symbols to cubicles or private offices.

• Avoid or limit alcohol.

• Watch the menu.

• Remind staff about the organization’s policy on harassment and discrimination.

Others favored multicultural events that encourage employees to share their cultural background through food, dress, music and games. “Emphasize openness to inclusion and a strong desire for all to be accepting and open to learning about the other cultures,” wrote Susan Wilson, SPHR, an HR director from Arkansas, in her contest entry.

Teresa Bergan, an HR professional from Spokane, Wash., suggested employers provide employees with an interfaith calendar highlighting events each month. “This will allow employees of all faiths to learn and emphasize with others and create a sense of family,” she wrote to HR Magazine.

©2012 SHRM. All rights reserved.

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Newell Rubbermaid expands Shanghai office

BY Ken Clark

Seeing opportunity in China for brands such as Irwin, Dymo and Lenox, Newell Rubbermaid pushes what it calls a "Growth Game Plan." 

Newell Rubbermaid announced the expansion of its office in Shanghai as the company continues to drive its Growth Game Plan. The expanded Shanghai office currently houses nearly 200 employees, with additional capacity for future growth. 

With China’s steel production approaching half of total world output, the company’s Lenox brand of industrial cutting solutions has seen strong growth by enabling the processing of steel and other metals into manufactured goods, especially in heavy industries, such as aviation, shipbuilding and autos. 

“We are adding space to accommodate a growing team with new capabilities, supported by a larger investment in the brands within our portfolio that have the ability to win bigger in this priority market,” said Bill Burke, chief operating officer of Newell Rubbermaid. “For a number of years, our Tools and Fine Writing businesses have led the way in China with solid growth, and our Commercial Products and Baby segments are also making good progress. We are now in a position to begin building our go-to-market system at scale in China, utilizing Shanghai as a key hub.” 

The rise of urbanization and the growth of mega-cities are fueling a construction boom, which is an opportunity for the company’s Irwin Tools and Dymo industrial labeling products, according to Newell. 

The expanded Shanghai office adds to existing sales and procurement offices in Beijing and Shenzhen, several Tools technical centers and a Fine Writing innovation center, as well as a number of manufacturing and distribution facilities across China. The office is located in the recently opened Gubei International Fortune Center II development in the Gubei New District of Shanghai.

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Sears’ new director is no stranger to ‘Moneyball’

BY Ken Clark

Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears Holdings Corp. has added Paul G. DePodesta to its board of directors.

DePodesta is currently VP player development and amateur scouting for the New York Mets of Major League Baseball, but he is more famous as the young, forward-thinking, statistics-obsessed Oakland A’s executive upon whom the Jonah Hill character was partially based in the recent movie "Moneyball."

DePodesta, who has not yet been named to any committees of the board, meets the company’s standards of independence, as well as those of NASDAQ, Sears said.

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