Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day is a Best Place to Work practice and an opportunity to engage your employees, educate the workforce, influence your business community and still keep the company productive with the doors open for business.

25 years ago, when InfoMart opened our doors, MLK Day was new to employers. Businesses weren’t sure whether to stay open, a lot like President’s Day, or too close, like the 4th of July. InfoMart decided to close for the holiday. Federal offices, which we relied on for information, were closed; however, many businesses stayed open, including our competition and clients.

Some years later, at the request of clients to be operational and after polling our employees, we, along with many other organizations, changed our policy to recognize MLK Day as a “floating holiday.”

MLK Day is still a floating holiday at InfoMart; if you wish, you don’t have to come to work. However, if you don’t want to use MLK Day as your floating holiday you can come to work and be dispatched to do a day of volunteer service.

Small businesses may lack the resources to observe MLK Day in a grand or public way; however, there are many activities that your small business can do that will raise morale and educate your workforce on diversity, all while establishing your organization as a Best Place to Work.

In-house Activities

Send companywide trivia emails with a gift card for the winner. Answers can educate the workforce on Dr. King’s legacy. InfoMart also displays trivia on the large monitors throughout our building, replacing our typical operating number alerts with timely and valuable information. Past internal celebrations have also included having a catered lunch and bringing in a special speaker.

MLK Day of Service

Since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was first observed in the late 1980’s, the way businesses chose to recognize the holiday has transformed. Many organizations now encourage a day of citizen action and volunteering in honor of Dr. King.

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Through our I’m Giving Committee, InfoMart arranges several volunteer activities, from arts and crafts with the kids at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite to stocking the pantries for local nonprofits. People who do decide to volunteer are given a company branded shirt. In addition to a day of service in the community, it is team building and raises the comradery of your employees. InfoMart also invites our customers to participate with us, affording us the opportunity to re-affirm relationships with our clients outside of the work context.

Field Trip

One of my favorite InfoMart MLK Day celebrations involved chartering buses to take the entire company to The King Center in Atlanta. We invited the local leadership of the NAACP and other community leaders who have participated in our Black History Month activities. We spent the day touring the center and ended the afternoon having lunch at renowned Atlanta landmark Paschal’s, where an employee of over 50 years shared with us stories of the restaurant’s rich history and role as a meeting place for leaders in the struggle for civil rights.

If there is not a special spot in your city for your company to celebrate, consider joining your city’s celebration. Some cities have parades and rallies any company can attend. Whatever you decide, be sure to take pictures and share on social media, so that everyone sees your commitment to making this a special day.

MLK Day is not about being elaborate. It is a time to get your entire workforce engaged in education and the celebration of diversity and civil rights.

For more ideas on how to recognize and appreciate diversity in your workplace, visit Black History Month Celebration.

How does your company recognize MLK Day? Share your ideas with me on social media.

About Tammy Cohen:

In 1989, Cohen founded InfoMart, a multi-million dollar pre-employment screening company that provides services to Fortune 500 companies nationwide. InfoMart has numerous “Best Place to Work” awards from various organizations. As a recognized expert in the employment screening industry, Cohen is often referred to as “The Queen of Screen” and was influential in the founding of the screening industry’s first trade association, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). Cohen is actively involved in a number of business and civic organizations and has received numerous personal honors, including a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record, the Entrepreneur of the Year award from YWCA of the USA, an Enterprising Woman of the Year Award from Enterprising Women, and the Phenomenal Women Award from the Siegel Institute.

About InfoMart:

InfoMart is an industry leader in background screening services, providing businesses the information they need to make well-informed hiring decisions. With more than 26 years in business, InfoMart is a pioneer in developing innovative technology and screening services, from criminal history searches to verifications of employment. Accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a designation earned by less than 10% of the industry, InfoMart has been recognized on Workforce Magazine’s Hot List of Background Screening Providers for 10 consecutive years. The company prides itself on its dedication to customers, innovation, and accurate reporting. For more information about InfoMart, please visit www.infomart-usa.com or call (770) 984-2727.

This article was originally posted at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/recognizing-martin-luther-king-jr-workplace-tammy-cohen-phr