The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to start prepping for family gatherings, good food, and white elephant gift exchanges. Tis’ a time for cheer and happiness, but recently the holiday season has brought about a topic of controversy that all businesses must address. We’ve noticed a few conversations pop up online regarding the celebration of Christmas in businesses. And, as an OD and leader of your practice, you need to decide how your practice is going to “celebrate” this December. Understanding the conflict and how it is being handled might help you become neutral in your stance and avoid conflict with the “War on Christmas."
The frontlines of this “war” have been in the public sector, specifically in public schools. And now, the reach of this controversy has spread to corporations, businesses, and even to your optical practice. In the corporate world many are taking pre-cautionary steps to avoid offense to customers. They instill the tagline “happy holidays”, not due to religious beliefs, but in order to be inclusive and welcome as many dollars, or rather people, into their stores. The “politically correct” transition must be done carefully, especially on such a grand scale, as corporations don’t want to hurt their revenue from the one billion dollar commercial impact season shopping has. So, while using happy holidays is not necessarily anti-Christmas, it does seem to be pro-business, and as OD’s the last thing you want in your optical practice is to be anti-business, right?
Managing Eye Care: How to Avoid the Christmas Controversy in Your Eyecare Practice
We aren't here to say there is a right or wrong way to handle this in your eyecare practice, we are just curious how practices out there are handling it, and want to get the conversation started! Is your eyecare practice taking a neutral stance in order to avoid conflict with patients, or even staff members? Playing Christmas music, having a big red Santa in the lobby, or going all out and installing a nativity scene, can all be considered offensive to certain people’s beliefs and should be addressed, rather than ignored.
In general, in order to celebrate the holidays without excluding people, one must recognize religious and cultural differences without discriminating. As a leader of your practice, you should be aware of the religious diversity among your colleagues and patients. You can choose to celebrate all religious holidays with equal emphasis, or forego celebrating all holidays, but still close on important dates. Whichever route your practice decides to take, remember each practice is unique and you should decide based upon your practice’s situation. Develop a clearly communicated strategy that promotes a productive culture which can recognize Christmas, and other holidays equally, or respectfully waive celebrations all together. If diversity is not acknowledged, an employer can risk promoting alienation rather than inclusion and acceptance.
For patients, a simple fix can help you stay neutral. Play music that has holiday cheer, but is not overwhelming and biased to one belief. The first impression a religiously diverse patient has might be your lobby music or office decor, and we all know first impressions are lasting. Again, you must assess your practice's own situation in order to decide how much Christmas spirit is too much and potentially offensive. We recently published a blog post with an alternative "winter playlist" for your practice to give you an alternative to Christmas music!
The workplace can be a difficult arena to accomplish pure inclusiveness and respect for all. With such diversity, many workplaces insist that employees say “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” to promote intercultural respect among workers. Yet, sometimes in our efforts to accommodate, we push too far, and we forget the essential reason for accommodation, true acceptance of all. Respect of all beliefs can lead to a more integrated and productive workplace, as well as avoid any negative impact on your patients.
While this topic is an important one, there are still ways to have fun with it. This old Mad TV skit makes light of this controversial topic perfectly. (Warning: NSFW, mild language.)
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