Supporting employees through the month of Ramadan

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Health Assured team

22 March 2023

March marks the beginning of Ramadan, a month in which Muslims further devote themselves to their faith and come closer to Allah (God). Falling in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the exact dates of Ramadan change each year as Muslims follow the cycles of the moon.

Throughout Ramadan, most Muslims fast between dawn and sunset—abstaining from any food or water, and only having one meal just before dawn (known as suhoor), and another meal directly after sunset (iftar). Fasting is intended to teach values of self-discipline, while also serving as a reminder of the suffering of those who are less fortunate. During this time, prayer and good deeds are prioritised, and Muslims are encouraged to spend time with family, friends and those who are in need.

Creating an inclusive workspace for those of diverse faiths is important, and acknowledging, supporting and celebrating momentous religious occasions should be something organisations strive to do. Ramadan can be a challenging time for Muslims who are working, so here at Health Assured we have compiled our top tips on how you can support employees who are fasting.

Don’t assume, communicate:

It can be easy to assume Muslims are taking part in Ramadan. However, there are multiple reasons as to why someone may be choosing to not fast. From illness, menstruation, pregnancy, or just the choice to opt out are some of the reasons someone who is Muslim may not be fasting. Therefore, it's important that we don’t just assume all Muslims are fasting as this is a false narrative and can create prejudiced stereotypes in the workplace.

Accommodate flexible working:

Fasting can take its toll on energy levels, and this can become more obvious as the day progresses. Offering your staff flexible working hours, or the option to work from home can be a huge help for those who are fasting, as it gives them the opportunity to spend time with friends, family, and plan their day around their body needs.

Encourage patience and empathy:

It's important to encourage an extra sense of patience and sympathy throughout the month of Ramadan. As productivity levels may be impacted due to prolonged fasting, it’s a good idea to empathise with those who are fasting and understand the religious significance of why they are choosing to take part in Ramadan.

Create a better work-life balance: 

A healthy work-life balance is important for all working professionals, however throughout the month of Ramadan, certain challenges prevail. From difficulty maintaining productivity, higher social and familial obligations and time-specific rituals- Ramadan is the perfect time to alter your approach to work-life balance. Some ways you can do this include:

  • Setting clear work schedules before the onset of Ramadan.
  • Try not to schedule too many meetings during Ramadan.
  • Avoid organising after-work events.
  • Avoid work overload.

Provide a Prayer Space:

Even outside of Ramadan, Muslims pray five times a day. It can be hard for Muslims to successfully pray five times a day, due to not being able to find a good praying space, not having enough time or feeling conscious. As part of being an inclusive company, it’s a good idea to include a prayer room that is uncluttered, clean and free of noise.

Think about establishing a faith-based resource group:

It’s a good idea to consider establishing a faith-based employee group. By doing this, you can create direct support for employees, while also encouraging a deeper understanding of global faith diversity throughout your organisation.

Encourage rest breaks:

Although exhausting, fasting is rewarding. Feelings of nausea and dizziness are common, therefore it’s a good idea to encourage rest breaks. Some individuals may feel reluctant to take multiple rest breaks, so it may be worthwhile to create a policy which allows employees who are fasting to take regular breaks throughout the day.

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