Best Practices for Creating an Inclusive Workplace During the Holiday Season

December is rich with diverse traditions, holidays, heritages, and religious observances celebrated in various cultures across the U.S. and abroad. The county has a diverse workforce, and we each bring unique backgrounds, lived experiences, and cultures that influence how we celebrate and connect with others. As we prepare for the holiday season, it is crucial to create an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for all employees to foster respect and belonging in the workplace. Below are best practices to create an inclusive workplace to support all employees during the holiday season and throughout the calendar year:  


  1. Invite feedback and input from all employees. To identify ways to be inclusive when hosting events throughout the year, ask employees from various backgrounds, identities, cultures, and who hold different religious beliefs for feedback on how they wish to celebrate the holidays. Allow teams to guide the planning and encourage employees to think inclusively about essential details such as holiday decorations, food, activities, and music selections to ensure that no one feels excluded and that events are culturally appropriate for the workplace.   


  1. Make participation in holiday functions optional. The holiday season can be stressful for employees who are not religious or hold religious beliefs that fall outside of traditional holidays observed in the United States. Some employees may not celebrate anything at all. In addition, employees who have experienced loss may find it challenging to navigate the holidays or participate in activities that remind them of loved ones. To model inclusion for all employees, make participation in workplace holiday functions optional so that employees do not feel obligated to partake if they choose not to. Consider scheduling functions during times of the year that do not overlap with specific holidays or cause scheduling conflicts for team members. 


  1. Acknowledge and show appreciation for different cultures and beliefs.Encourage your team members to share how they celebrate the holiday seasons, especially those whose cultural backgrounds may differ from yours. Be open and curious to learn by inviting questions about their native cuisines, traditions, and customs to expand your knowledge and learn something new. 


  1. Explore different cultures, traditions, and religions. The world is diverse and filled with opportunities to learn about other cultures, practices, and holiday celebrations. Encourage employees to research holidays that differ from their own or participate in community events to gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultures and communities in Henrico County and the Richmond region. For Henrico County employees, you can start your inclusion journey by exploring the county’s DEI resource page or the Multicultural Community Engagement page for year-round community events and celebrations.  


This year, we are highlighting the following holidays in December:

  • Las Posadas: December 16 – 24
  • Hanukkah (Chanukah): December 18-26
  • Kwanzaa: December 26-January 1

A complete list of December 2022 Holidays, Celebrations, Heritages, and Observances can be found on the DEI Resource Page.


  1. Be open and flexible. The holiday season can be a challenging time for employees to navigate, especially as we close out year-end responsibilities and plan for time away from the office. Extend grace to your team members during the holiday season, and be open to differing thoughts, perspectives, and feedback about whatever may be coming up for them. Be open and listen to understand how you can create a positive experience where employees feel included, valued, and heard.  


If you have ideas for inclusive ways that Henrico can highlight different holidays and cultures, please contact our DEI Division at 501-4425 or [email protected].

Read More

Henrico’s New Capability Model: The Leading Self Capability

The rapid transformation of today’s workplace is bringing many exciting changes and new opportunities. To support our employees in developing the agility and skills needed to respond to changing demands and provide new services, Henrico County has introduced the Capability Model. You can learn more about the capabilities on our resource page.

To provide insight into each of the seven individual capabilities within the model, the County Connection features a series of articles, each of which focuses on one of the capabilities. This article focuses on the capability of Leading Self.

Leadership at all levels is a core component of the county’s Henrico Way philosophy. Whether you are a formal or informal leader, leading yourself first is critical to successfully interacting with and leading others.

The capability model describes Leading Self in four ways:

Decisiveness: Makes timely and effective decisions to accomplish team and organizational goals.

Functional Expertise: Has the knowledge, skills, and abilities in job function or area of expertise.

Personal Accountability: Takes responsibility and personal ownership for actions and decisions.

Critical Thinking: Objectively analyzes and evaluates information to solve problems and make informed decisions.

Here are some examples of how you can effectively build self-leadership skills:

  • Effectively planning and organizing your time and work. Learning time management skills and using resources like planners, calendars, and apps to help you stay on track and meet deadlines.
  • Taking responsibility for your own professional development. Examples include taking classes or joining one of the County leadership programs (Emerging Leaders Certification Program for non-supervisors or Leadership Henrico for supervisors).
  • Learning as much as possible about your job or industry through research, job shadowing, classes, reading trade publications, etc.
  • Volunteering to take on tasks within your workplace that might be outside of your comfort zone to become more competent.
  • Taking personal ownership when you’ve made a mistake and proactively looking for ways to learn from it. Asking yourself and/or others, “What could I have done differently?” or “How should I approach this next time?”
  • Looking at a situation from different perspectives before making a decision. This might involve gathering information and/or asking for the views of others, such as those the decision would impact. It might also include considering the impact on other priorities or the organization.
  • Making quick, firm decisions in critical situations when time is of the essence. If this type of decision-making is difficult for you, seek the guidelines around typical steps involved in decision-making. You might also set a deadline for yourself to make a final decision. Once it’s made, assess the outcome to identify what went well and what could be done differently next time.

Becoming skilled in the Leading Self capability enhances your productivity, performance, and work relationships and better equips you to achieve your professional goals.


To find more examples of the Leading Self capability, view our “Time Management: Prioritize What’s Important” video and “Upskilling: How to Take Charge of Your Professional Development” video  on our OLTD YouTube page.

For more information on the Capabilities, view our Henrico Capability Model videos on our OLTD YouTube page or visit our resource page.

Read More

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Recently, the Fitness & Wellness Division has shared information on Life’s Essential 8™ – critical factors for improving and maintaining heart health, as defined by the American Heart Association. Past monthly awareness campaigns have included an introduction to the Essential 8 cardiovascular health target areas (September 2022) and steps to manage blood sugar in conjunction with National Diabetes Awareness Month (November 2022). This month we turn our attention to sleep with a focus on common sleep problems, recommended hours of sleep, and tips for setting up healthy sleep habits. 

Exhausted? Tossing and turning? Not getting a good night’s sleep? Sleep problems are common, and there are ways to improve the quality of your sleep with benefits to both physical and mental well-being. Common sleep problems include:

  • Trouble falling asleep – lying in bed for more than 30 minutes without being able to fall asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep – waking up frequently during the night
  • Early morning waking – waking before you need to get up and not being able to fall back asleep
  • Behaviors that interfere with sleep – snoring, grinding teeth, restless legs, sleepwalking, and breathing problems
  • Sleeping too much or for too long
  • Excessive sleepiness or urge to nap during the day
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy

Sleep problems can hurt mental health by influencing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. When sleep is disturbed, you might feel irritable, grumpy, sad, anxious, worried, or stressed. Sleep problems can make it difficult to concentrate, think clearly, or make decisions. If you’re wondering how many hours of sleep your body needs, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend 7 to 12 hours, depending on age.

Age Group


Recommended Hours of Sleep


4-12 months

12-16 hours per 24 hours, including naps


1-2 years

11-14 hours per 24 hours, including naps


3-5 years

10-13 hours per 24 hours, including naps

School Age

6-12 years

9-12 hours a night


13-18 years

8-10 hours a night


18+ years

7 -9 hours per night


Individuals do indeed have different sleep needs. Some naturally need less sleep, while others need more. For adults, consistently sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night or more than 10 hours per day can have health risks or be a sign of another health problem. One of the most powerful ways to improve sleep is to make small changes in everyday behaviors that impact how fast you fall asleep and whether you stay asleep. To improve sleep hygiene, focus on increasing behaviors that will enhance sleep, naturally reducing behaviors that interfere with sleep. Follow these tips for getting a good night’s sleep.

Tip #1: Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. Some people have problems sleeping when they have consumed too much caffeine.

Tip #2: Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. It may feel like alcohol helps you fall asleep faster, but alcohol can disrupt your sleep by causing breathing problems and jerky arms and legs.

Tip #3: Unwind. Stress dramatically impacts sleep, so it is essential to relax before bed. Read a good book, do a crossword puzzle, take a bath or shower, listen to calming music or try a relaxation exercise. Screen time is stimulating, and the blue light emitted by devices can affect sleep. It’s recommended to avoid watching TV, going online, or using other electronic devices for at least 30 minutes before bed.

Tip #4: Exercise a few hours before bedtime. Research indicates that people who exercise regularly (30 to 60 minutes, 3-5 times a week) have a deeper sleep. In addition, exercising boosts energy, so it is best to exercise four to eight hours before bedtime. 

Tip #5: Follow the same routine. Try to keep the same sleep and wake schedule every day, including weekends. Maintaining a consistent schedule allows your body to establish a routine. 

Tip #6: Avoid naps if you experience sleep problems. Naps aren’t necessarily a problem, but for some, naps may interfere with sleep at night. If you are experiencing problems with sleep, consider cutting out naps to see if your sleep improves. It is best to keep naps short, around 30 minutes at most, to minimize disruptions to your standard sleep patterns. However, if you feel so tired that you can’t get through the day without a nap, you should talk with your doctor. It can signify another health problem, including a sleep disorder.

Tip #7: Avoid going to bed too full or too hungry. Eating balanced, healthy meals and snacks regularly throughout the day will help with a good night’s sleep. Try to avoid eating a large meal two hours before bedtime. 

Tip #8: Get up if you do not fall asleep within half an hour. Leave your bedroom and do something relaxing, like listening to soft music, taking a bath, drinking a warm caffeine-free beverage, or meditating. Avoid watching TV or going on your phone during this time. Then, go back to bed once you feel very drowsy. At first, this might feel like falling asleep is getting worse because you may have a few sleepless nights. However, it will become easier to fall asleep and stay asleep after several nights. Be consistent in your use of this strategy. Studies do show it is very effective in reversing sleep problems. 

Tip #9: Make your bedroom comfortable and only use it for sleeping. A mattress with good support and comfortable bedding are both helpful. Ensure your room is not too hot or too cold – slightly cool is best. Don’t use your bed to watch TV, work, study, or do other mentally stimulating activities.

Tip #10: Challenge your belief that you cannot function without a perfect night’s sleep. When you can’t sleep, you might check the clock and worry about getting through the upcoming day. This increases anxiety and makes it even harder to fall back asleep. Instead, turn the clock away from your view. Remind yourself that you can likely do your daily activities even when you feel tired (unless this would pose a danger to yourself or others).



The American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8

Life’s Essential 8 – How to Get Healthy Sleep

Sleep your Way to Whole Body Health

Read More