The awareness days your business should celebrate and how to do it
Want to build a corporate culture that really brings people together? Show you care about your employees by celebrating awareness days that foster inclusivity.
Not sure where to start? Getting informed about some popular cultural events is a good move. Here are some awareness days for HR leaders to consider including in events or workforce morale campaigns – along with a few pointers on doing so sensitively and respectfully.
All month: Dry January
Although consuming alcohol is often considered a normal part of business culture, not everyone chooses to – or can – participate. Your Dry January celebration ought to focus on showing sensitivity around employees who have made the decision not to drink for one month or indefinitely.
Whether your staff participate in Dry January for religious, health, or other reasons, running a campaign in support of their decision can make the workplace feel infinitely more welcoming. Share information on the benefits of abstinence so that participants don't feel like they constantly have to justify themselves to their coworkers.
17 January: Brew Monday
Also known as Blue Monday, this event focuses on mental health and lets people who struggle know they're not alone. Encourage your employees to speak out about the problems they face and communicate with their peers.
Some ways to celebrate Brew Monday include hosting a company-wide coffee morning, providing no-questions-asked access to counselling services, and publicising resources meant to help lighten people's mental load. Invest in upper-level training that prompts leaders to self-reflect and consider how they might practice more empathetic management styles.
1 February: World Hijab Day
World Hijab Day was founded to combat Islamophobia, and it encourages women worldwide to try wearing the hijab for a day. It's a good chance to get into the swing of recognising and appreciating the different religions and cultures in the modern workplace.
You should advise your employees to participate sensitively as the hijab is an expression of religious faith. For instance, you can send out a memo in advance explaining more about the hijab and Islam.
4 February: World Cancer Day
Most people know someone who's had cancer or even passed away as a result. On World Cancer Day, hold a special talk session for your employees to share their personal cancer stories.
This is also a fine time to participate in charity events (like 5K runs) as a team. Or simply take an extended lunch break in memory of cancer victims from your workforce.
7 February: National Sickie Day
National Sickie Day is the day when the greatest number of UK employees are statistically likely to call in sick. Engage in sympathy-centric activities, like encouraging a duvet day or a team-building exercise day.
8 February: Safer Internet Day
Taking the time to mark Safer Internet Day will benefit your IT security as well your employees so it’s very worthwhile. The day focusses on people joining together to make the internet safer for all so why not produce a fun document or video that staff can use to help themselves and children become more aware of the dangers online? Make sure you also use the opportunity to reinforce your IT security policies – if a cybercriminal gets on to your system, they will cause havoc so there’s always more you can do to educate your staff.
17 February: Sport Relief
Sport Relief tackles multiple problems, such as inequality, poverty, violence, and youth welfare – so it's easy to get everyone on board. This is a fun occasion to raise money for a good cause by hosting a company-wide charitable sports day.
25 February: International Stand up to Bullying Day
Although it doesn't get as much publicity as what happens in the schoolyard, bullying in the workplace is a big problem. On International Stand up to Bullying Day, let people know it's OK to speak out with organisation-wide training on recognising the signs of bullying. Also, publicise your zero-tolerance policies and reporting procedures.
1 March: Zero Discrimination Day
Zero Discrimination Day revolves around the idea that everyone should be equal before the law and enjoy equitable opportunities. Focus on knowledge-building activities like equality training workshops, and consider hosting keynote speakers who can share personal stories of discrimination they've experienced in your field.
7 -14 March: National Careers Week
During National Careers Week, give your employees time to encourage young people in search of career paths. Try hosting local kids for a behind-the-scenes look at your workplace or sending staff to schools to discuss what they do.
8 March: International Women's Day
Society is just waking up to many of the challenges women face daily. On International Women's Day, take time to promote the benefits of gender equality and explore how biases manifest in your workplace.
Eliminate non-promotable tasks that fall heavily on female employees, and explore the inequities in your HR pipeline. Most importantly, include women in the planning process for your event – hear their feedback with an open mind!
All month: Stress Awareness Month
During Stress Awareness Month, take steps to mitigate workplace tension by offering mental health support or time management courses. Set up an anonymous employee suggestion box to get feedback on how your management practices could become less stress-inducing.
3 April: Walk to Work Day
Inclusiveness is key on Walk to Work Day. If you have employees who can't walk to work, be sure to offer alternative environmentally conscious options.
28 April: World Day for Safety and Health at Work
On World Day for Safety and Health at Work, show you're committed to preventing occupational accidents and diseases by providing training on relevant workplace hazards – and reinforcing your health and safety policies.
9 - 15 May: Mental Health Awareness Week
During Mental Health Awareness Week, offer wellness gifts, mental health screenings, or art therapy. Provide sensitivity training, and encourage employees to consider whether their behaviour might make it harder for their peers to feel comfortable sharing their struggles.
16 – 23 May: Learning at Work Week
For Learning at Work Week, reward your hard workers with valuable career skills. Offer online training opportunities, and have your most talented employees record skills-building webinars for their coworkers.
All month: Pride Month
For Pride Month, promote workshops that explain the societal challenges LGBTQIA+ people face, host speakers who can share some history, and give to charitable causes. Let your staff update their email signatures, badges, and Zoom backgrounds to reflect their identities.
1 June: Volunteers Week
Volunteering takes planning, so for Volunteers Week, think ahead. Encourage everyone to volunteer during June – and give them time to get their hours in!
4 August: Cycle to Work Day
As with Walk to Work Day above, Cycle to Work Day encourages people to take a healthier, less polluting mode of transport to work. Encourage your staff to take part if they can.
19 September: International Week of Happiness at Work
To celebrate International Week of Happiness at Work, focus on fostering good vibes. Organise an opt-in company event, or hand out presents from secret gift donors. At a minimum, share praise and publicly recognise people's contributions.
24 September: World’s Biggest Coffee Morning
Who needs an excuse to pause work for a bit and eat cake? Well with Macmillan Cancer Support’s annual coffee morning event, you can do so and raise money for an excellent cause in the process. For details of how to organise a great event, click here.
7 October: National Work Life Week
Participate in National Work Life Week by showcasing your flexible policies and granting people the opportunity to relax. Can't afford to give people time off? Bring in a massage therapist, take time to play group games, or solicit feedback on achieving a better balance.
10 October: World Mental Health Day
Check-in with your team on World Mental Health Day: Share tips on practising self-care, and have team leaders hold open office hours for one-on-ones. Try offering reimbursement for mental health applications, and promote your current health plan's mental wellness benefits.
18 October: World Menopause Day
Menopause will at some point affect about half of the global population – so show your support on World Menopause Day. Join the many employers who run courses teaching their male employees how to be more supportive of coworkers going through menopause.
Also, ask for feedback from those who've gone through menopause while in your employ – Are your accommodations missing the mark or making a positive impact?
22 October: Show Racism the Red Card
For Show Racism the Red Card day, try hiring equality educators to train your workforce on diversity. Remember: It may be easier to tackle workplace racism amicably with the help of an outside perspective.
All month: Movember
Celebrate Movember by doing something fun at work, such as holding a "best facial hair competition" or participating in pub quizzes. Even if your senior team members can't grow their facial hair – or don't want to wear itchy false beards!, there are plenty of other ways they can join in to promote men's health.
1 November: Remembrance Day
On Remembrance Day, the UK commemorates service members who've died in wars. Go beyond the traditional two minutes of silence by decorating the office, hosting a volunteer day at a veteran's organisation, handing out poppies, or participating in a parade.
3 November: National Stress Awareness Day
For National Stress Awareness Day, help your workers cut down on their stress. Host a healthy luncheon on the house, pay for an opt-in yoga or meditation class, or hand out self-care kits.
19 November: International Men's Day
International Men's Day focuses on the well-being issues males face, like high suicide rates and workplace deaths. Participate by using your internal communication platform to share stories of good male role models. Take part in regional events, and invite your team members to bring their sons to work.
Get into the spirit for your next awareness celebration
These are just some of the events companies can observe to show they care. Investing in your workforce by nurturing a more empathetic, supportive culture is always an appropriate move.
Want to create a workplace that encourages your people to achieve their full potential? Talk to the Lodge Court team.