The time of Ramadan is nearly here. This year it will begin on the 2nd of April, (dependant on when the new moon is first sighted) and will last for 30 days, at which point Muslims worldwide will celebrate Eid.
To observe this celebration, Muslim people must fast between sunrise and sunset; in the UK this year, that's up to 17 hours a day. After sunset, the breaking meal called iftar provides much-needed nutrients but can also be an emotional occasion celebrating spiritual reflection.
Ramadan offers more than just food restrictions or physical exhaustion; spiritually, it's a positive period within Islam. However, it can also be challenging for those who are fasting.
Below we have created a list of ways to best support your employees and coworkers observing Ramadan within the workplace.
1) Find out each year when Ramadan is approaching (it is not the same every year) and who in your team may be observing this religious period. The Islamic faith is a welcoming religion that accepts people of all races and backgrounds. Don't make assumptions about who in your team may be observing Ramadan. Equally, some Muslims may be exempt from practising for various reasons, try not to assume all Muslim colleagues will be fasting. Observing Ramadan isn't always noticeable, so make it easy for your team members to let you know that they are doing a fast by being open and approachable.
2) Make workplace adjustments where possible to provide a safe and quiet space for prayer where required. Communicate with staff to find out what their expectations are and be transparent about what is realistic in terms of viable options.
3) It should be expected that everyone in the workplace is respectful of all religions, cultural differences, and backgrounds regardless of what they are. Ensure this is equally the case in regards to Islam and Ramadan.
Some essential awareness and education for those that work with Muslim colleagues of what Ramdan involves and how it might impact someone will help with respect and understanding. Consider encouraging your Muslim coworkers or employees to provide a talk or presentation to staff about Ramadan to promote open discussions about the holy month and how the team can best support them.
4) If you are a manager, organising an opportunity to discuss potential workplace adjustments and issues that might arise for team members observing Ramadan would be advisable.
For example, flexitime provision may help employees be more productive during their working hours if they can start earlier /work through lunch to finish earlier as energy levels dip.
5) If your workforce or colleagues are working remotely across the globe, consider the time differences and how daily routines during Ramadan might impact meetings, deadlines, and performance. Organise meetings at appropriate times e.g. not during iftar.
6) As well as the changes to daily routines, consider the impact fasting may have on staff or colleagues. People may understandably be more productive in the mornings (at least at the start of Ramadan as the body gets used to the changes), so scheduling meetings earlier for mornings rather than afternoons might help.
Fasting can affect people in different ways. Be mindful of those that are maybe quieter or more tired but equally do not assume that Ramadan always has an adverse affect. Many Muslims report feeling energised, and this holy period is mostly viewed as a positive experience.
7) Try not to act anxiously around those observing Ramadan. Colleagues who are fasting will not expect you to do the same; you do not need to be secretive about eating and drinking. However, be mindful and respectful that fasting can be challenging, so constantly asking questions about food or offering food /drink is not helpful.
8) Be aware and try to accommodate as best as possible annual leave requests towards the end of Ramadan as acts of worship may intensify and Eid approaches. Having annual leave discussions sooner rather than later will ensure there are less clashes and issues.
9) Finally, celebrate this period alongside your Muslim colleagues and staff and wish them a happy and generous Ramadan this year!
Ramadan Mubarak means Happy Ramadan or Ramadan Kareem is have a generous Ramadan.
Do you have any other best practice tips to add to the above to support staff and colleagues during Ramadan? Drop us a comment below and we will add it to the article in preparation for next year.
Ramadan Mubarak from Consortia to all our Muslim candidates and clients this year!
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