Steve Shepherd, employment market analyst at Randstad, says employers could actually seek to benefit from incorporating the Asian tradition into the office.
“The heartfelt wishes expressed during Chinese New Year are positive messages to share, not only within the workplace, but to extend out to customers, family and friends,” he said.
“We all know that people who are happy at work and feel valued for their individual, unique contribution, are more active in helping to build a collaborative, high performing environment.”
Shepherd insists the holiday’s customs – which include wishing others good fortune, happiness and wealth – can easily be incorporated into the workplace to embrace diversity, improve engagement and increase productivity.
Overseas, Chinese owners and managers usually give ‘hongbao’ – cash bonuses – to staff ahead of Chinese New Year, to wish them luck and prosperity for the coming year. The amount given varies but in Singapore new bills in even numbers and even amounts are considered the best form of good luck.
While hongbao isn’t a tradition among Canadian employers, the following small celebrations can easily fit into any workplace:
Chinese night out:
With Chinese New Year parades planned across Canada, a team night out is a great way to get staff out of the office and submerged in an interesting culture. With most events hosted for free, it doesn’t have to come at a cost.
Chinese pot luck lunch:
Ask employees to bring in Chinese food for lunch and then have everyone swap dishes. This is a fun way to celebrate the occasion whilst meeting new people, making new contacts and boosting staff engagement.
Decorate the office:
Whether it’s hiring a Chinese Dragon costume or decorating the office with Chinese Lanterns, adding some Chinese culture and colour to the office will quickly brighten spirits.
Share language & culture tips:
Share Chinese popular phrases and cultural tips on what to do and say during Chinese New Year – it could even help to win new business if newfound skills are developed!
Were any of your employees born in the Year of the Sheep?
If so, share the Chinese folklore about how to have a successful year, what to avoid, and how to bring good luck in the year ahead.
Chinese New Year takes place this Thursday, on February 19.
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Canada has long been lauded as one of the most diverse countries in the world – and our population includes more than 1.5 million Chinese-Canadians – so why not celebrate that multiculturalism in the workplace?