4 Ways to Incorporate Cultural Traditions into the Workplace

culturaldiversityThe American workplace is growing more diverse each year, with the U.S. Census Bureau predicting that by the year 2050, there will be no minority in the country, and between 2000 and 2050, immigrants and their children will comprise 83 percent of the growth in the working-age population. This multicultural workforce means that many offices will be tasked with bringing together workers from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Here are four ways to incorporate cultural traditions into the workplace.

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.

Instead of viewing diversity as a challenge, smart business leaders see this as an exciting opportunity. When employees work together, they learn more about each other’s cultures and find that they can each bring their own unique experiences to each project. By encouraging this teambuilding, a business can benefit from higher morale and better overall performance.

Have a Cultural Potluck

Each member of your team has traditions, whether they are part of holiday celebrations or weekly Sunday dinners. Set time aside on a regular basis to have each employee bring in a meal that represents his or her culture. Even American workers may bring in food that is unique to their own region of the U.S. This can help workers see that even two people who grew up in the same town could have completely different traditions.

Celebrate All Holidays

Christmas decorations have long been a part of office celebrations, but what about holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Chinese New Year? Some of your employees may not even celebrate Christmas because of their own religious beliefs or backgrounds, so it’s important to keep that in mind as you schedule your annual Christmas party. However, Christmas celebrations are a great tool for boosting morale and building camaraderie, so a good compromise may be to make celebrations optional, while also adding in festivities that honor everyone’s beliefs.

Be a Role Model

Team leaders should strive to be role models to others in the organization, learning as much as possible about each culture represented to better interact with employees. In some cultures, an action like shaking hands can be viewed completely differently than it is in the U.S., and being educated can highlight these differences. When an employer respects an employee’s beliefs and traditions, other employees will follow.

Respect Spirituality

Religion and spirituality can be tricky subjects in a business environment, but business leaders can navigate these issues gracefully. Problems occur when one employee feels offended by another person’s spirituality, so it’s important that an employer know how to handle these issues as they arise.

As the workplace becomes more diverse, leaders will be given the responsibility of fostering an environment of respect and tolerance. A culturally diverse workplace benefits everyone, enabling individuals to grow as they learn from each other. When a business brings tradition and culture into the workplace, team members learn to celebrate each other’s differences. This increases productivity and helps with overall team-building, while also giving employees reason to take time off from working hard to celebrate multiple holidays.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

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