Q&A: How to help your employees make the most of their Juneteenth holiday

Nadene Evans, Senior Manager of Organic Growth at Zenefits
Jun 16, 2022

Juneteenth is the oldest known holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. With it being right around the corner, are you ensuring your employees are making the most of the holiday? Nadene Evans, Senior Manager of Organic Growth Marketing at Zenefits joins the show to share ways businesses can help celebrate and […]

Juneteenth is the oldest known holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. With it being right around the corner, are you ensuring your employees are making the most of the holiday?

Nadene Evans, Senior Manager of Organic Growth Marketing at Zenefits joins the show to share ways businesses can help celebrate and support the Juneteenth holiday, as well as help your DEI efforts.

Additional Resources:

Ask a SMB Workplace Question and get featured on POPS! The People Ops podcast.

On this episode, you’ll hear:

  • [00:42] Background on Juneteenth
  • [03:35] Ways to incorporate the holiday in your organization
  • [04:54] States that celebrate Juneteenth


Welcome to pops the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people, operations for the new world of work. How by answering one question at a time today to help answer your question. Here’s Nadene Evans, senior manager of organic growth marketing at benefits. Hi everybody. I’m here today to talk to you all about Juneteenth, the holiday that’s coming up.

I’m here to talk about some ways that your business can help celebrate the Juneteenth holiday and support Juneteenth within your organization and help your DEI efforts by doing.

A little bit of background on Juneteenth. It’s the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. So the emancipation day celebration June 19th was in 1900 was the first image that they ever had of an actual Juneteenth celebration. You can find that on Wikipedia.

If you look. Little small facts. So for most businesses, June 19th might seem like another Workday, but if you check your calendar, you’ll find that June 19th is a holiday and it’s called Juneteenth. It’s a day of celebration. It’s actually the oldest known holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States, but it’s really not widely known by Americans yet.

And actually it just became a federal holiday last. So by taking the time to understand the deep historical and emotional significance of Juneteenth and incorporating those into the workplace, you can further support your business’ diversity and inclusion initiatives. So again, the history of Juneteenth is very interesting.

So it is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the. And it dates back to 1865. So on that date, on June 19th, union soldiers led by a major general landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslave were now free. So that was two and a half years actually, after president Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation.

So it’s interesting that there was quite a gap there. So when grander issued the above order on June 19th, he had no idea that in establishing the union army. Authority over the people of Texas. He was also establishing the basis for this holiday. So by the time Grainger assumed command of the department of Texas, the Confederate capital in Richmond had fallen.

Lincoln was dead and the 13th amendment was well on its way to ratification. So today Juneteenth is the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States. And that might be. A big message that you want to talk about when you’re telling your workforce, when they ask you what is June 19th?

That’s a nice nutshell description of the holiday. So it’s a combination as you probably figured out by now, if the words, June and 19th, and it’s also known as freedom day Jubilee day and cell liberation day. So in 2018, again, the Senate bill that was introduced passed, and it designated June 19th. At that time as Juneteenth, I.

Day. So it’s, that’s in the recognition of the 1865, June 19th date on which slavery legally became no longer legal in the United States. How can your business celebrate Juneteenth? So there’s a couple of ideas that we had and one of them would be celebrating at work. And inviting a guest speaker, for example.

So you can incorporate June 19th celebrations into your business by maybe decorating your workspace with the June 19th theme to acknowledge the day and bring employees together and give them an opportunity to learn. And some of them, if they choose to, to explain the history of the holiday, just like we just did.

And then if you, uh, if you’re so inclined or you have someone in mind, maybe a guest speaker could come in and talk to your. You could also have them participate in local Juneteenth events. This is also a good opportunity to perhaps maybe, uh, sponsor a local event. Um, a lot of communities across the us do host Juneteenth celebrations.

So now I wanna look in your local paper or local websites or Facebook pages of your town. And just so I use the hashtag Juneteenth and just see what might be out there near you, that your employees and your business could participate in. But be careful though, because of COVID 19, you wanna be. Cautious and, uh, conscientious that some celebrations may have moved or your employees might not be comfortable participating in them, but they can still perhaps watch online or have some other ways to participate and, uh, help out or even, you know, just spread the word or participate from afar.

You could also give your employees a paid day off for volunteering and celebration, and it might not even be June 19th specific that you do this for it could be, but it could just be a way to give back to the local community as, uh, their way of celebrating Juneteenth. The last thing I wanna point out is that Juneteenth is an observed holiday in 47 states in Washington, DC, but it’s not a mandated federal holiday.

So Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a holiday. New Hampshire was actually the latest state to recognize the Juneteenth holiday. And that was true. As of about a year ago. It might have changed a little bit, but Congress did designate Juneteenth as a national holiday, which states don’t recognize Juneteenth.

As of right now, we found Hawaii North Dakota and South Dakota do not, but even if you have a business located in these areas, it’s still a good idea to talk about Juneteenth and why it’s important and how people might wanna celebrate. Anyway. So some other interesting facts, the official colors of Juneteenth are red, white, and blue, just a American flag symbolizing and the slaves and their descendants, uh, were all Americans.

They were too. And the star in the middle plays hoish to Texas. So if you look at the flag for June 19th, it’s actually very interesting and it might be something you might wanna consider incorporating into your messaging throughout the work. And then yeah, for the last thing, just make sure that your employees feel comfortable talking about Juneteenth, make sure they feel comfortable sharing their experiences, how they feel about it.

There could be even some negative experiences or thoughts around it. You know, that’s natural. Everyone has an opinion, but our hope is that by helping you learn a little bit about Juneteenth and think about some ways that you could celebrate all of us here at benefits might help your company be a little more informed and, um, more interested in Juneteenth as a total way to have everyone.

Enjoy a new holiday. Thank you for listening. I hope this was helpful. Have a great day. Do you have a question for our experts? Click the link in the show notes, or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to [email protected].

Previous Episodes

Q&A: Tax Tips: Getting ahead of year-end requirements

Christian Flaten, Director of Product Marketing, Zenefits
Nov 2, 2021
There are two certainties at the end of every year: the holidays and taxes. On this episode of POPS!, we’ll help you get ahead of the latter with year-end tax tips from Zenefits Director of Product Marketing Christian Flaten. You’ll hear the special circumstances to keep in mind with COVID-19, and how to make sure...

Q&A: What updates should you make to your 2022 employee handbook?

Lora Patterson, HR Advisor at Zenefits
Jan 19, 2022
Whenever we begin a new year, it’s important to review your employee handbook to see if there are any changes you need to make. After a year like 2021, it’s absolutely critical to ensure your policies are up to date. Lora Patterson, Senior People Ops Advisor at Zenefits, shares where she recommends you focus your...

Q&A: The real reason you need people analytics

Ian Cook, VP of People Analytics at Visier
Oct 13, 2022
People analytics aren’t a trend. They’re becoming a necessity as companies grow and thrive in the market. Why do you need them? Ian Cook, VP of People Analytics at Visier, shares insights around the importance of tracking people data and some basics you can start with. Additional Resources: Order your copy of our book People...

About The People Ops Podcast

Every week, we share the decisions, struggles, and successes for keeping up with an evolving workforce and a changing workplace. No matter if you’ve been in HR or are just getting started, this combination of transformational stories with actionable ideas, as well as context on hot issues, keeps you up-to-date while answering the questions you didn’t even know you had.

Oh, and you know what they say about all work and no play? We tossed in a little levity to keep it real. Lessons, answers, and humor: everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Best-in-class remote teams will use best-in-class technology.

Zenefits mobile HR platform makes it easier to communicate with staff, onboarding new hires, pay employees, and manage any HR task from any home office.