Religious diversity in the workplace can bring a company many benefits in the form of different viewpoints. Managing religious diversity in the workplace, however, can be challenging from a human resources standpoint. Tolerance and acceptance of religious views is vital, as well as being able to accommodate those who may need extra time off or may have special needs that are dictated by their religious preference. By following a few guidelines, it is possible to have a workplace that is enriched by its diversity.
Offer training to all employees. In a diverse workplace, there are going to be clashes, some that may not be intentional. Religion is a hot button issue on its own and when two religions collide the results can be devastating. It is vital to offer training to all employees and to discuss what is acceptable in terms of discussing faith in the workplace. Employees may try to impose their belief systems on others without even realizing it.
Provide time off to employees for religious reasons. Some religions dictate that worship must be offered at specific times and these times may interfere with a work day. Offer time off for these employees and be prepared to face some criticism from employees who do not share the same faith and feel slighted because they do receive the same treatment. Remind them that several religious holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, are typically offered as paid holidays.
Encourage employees to accept differences. While many religions are directly opposed to one another, common ground can be reached once acceptance occurs. Monitor employees and if it is apparent that there is discontent over religious issues, encourage the two parties to discuss their faith and problems in a safe environment, away from other workers, so that they may come to a better understanding of one another. Encourage the finding of common ground between employees.
Avoid overreacting to simple issues that may arise. A newly diverse workplace is bound to have growing pains and it is important to embrace these struggles and avoid overreacting to them. Remember that you cannot please all of the people all of the time. Compromise is a vital part of true diversity.
Adopt a no-tolerance policy for severe issues. Employees need to know what kinds of behavior will not be tolerated and that action will be taken immediately if problems between employees occur. If they have been properly trained and educated on company policies, there is no excuse for severe religious issues between employees.