The time has come once again for every Muslim to fast in the month of Ramadhan. This 2021, the fasting month will begin on the evening of April 12 and will end on the evening of May 11. For those who may not know, Ramadhan is a month where Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown for thirty days. Usually lasting for about 11-17 hours, depending on your location. Fasting means refraining oneself from consuming any food or drink for as long as the sun is up.
Someone once said, “Ramadhan is a time to starve the stomach to feed the soul.” While it may sound taxing to most but believe me, it is an auspicious occasion that all Muslims look forward to each year. Ramadhan is a month for Muslims to reassess their spirituality, reflect on their blessings and work to become a better version of themselves. However, with so many restrictions and yet, the same responsibilities and work, it is only natural that your employees face:
– Moodiness or seeming less talkative
– Headaches or worse, migraines
Put yourself in their shoes where you have to wake up before the sun rises to eat, which is called suhoor, then go to work for 8-9 hours with no pick-me-ups in between tasks or meetings like coffee or snacks. Aside from work, other priorities are still ongoing such as house chores, taking care of kids, and also, late-night prayers during Ramadhan called Taraweeh, which lasts until midnight. It is a month that emphasizes patience and virtue. Hence, if you are an employer who has no idea how to keep your fasting employees engaged, and happy, here are our tips:
1. Talk to your employees
If you are aware of a Muslim observing Ramadhan in your team, it may seem or feel uncomfortable to initiate a conversation at first. Regardless, there is no better way for you to learn and understand what you can improve to support and provide a comfortable working environment than to ask them yourselves. Remember: it is never too late to ask and be more empathetic by taking the time to understand what your fasting employees may require from you.
2. Let your workers pick their work schedules
It can be extremely tough for your employees to work 8 hours straight on an empty stomach. Hence, flexibility is your best friend. Let your employees create a custom schedule for Ramadhan based on a time where they feel most convenient, productive and that works for them and you. Take note that on some days, they may need to leave early, take the day off or work from home due to suhoor and iftar, which is the time they break their fast at sunset. You can also offer them the option to work during lunch hour and go home earlier. Keep an open mind and ensure that you are negotiating a timetable that works for both parties.
3. Be conscious of food in the workplace
Talking about the month of Ramadhan, fasting means that your colleague will not be able to participate in any food-related events during the working hour. It is good practice to still give them the option to feel included but refrain from forcing it or pressuring them into it. For the most part, Muslims might not care about people eating around them but it is still crucial that non-Muslims learn about the month and be more self-aware of their food/beverage intake in front of other Muslims.
4. Provide private praying areas in the office
On top of Ramadhan, did you know that Muslims have to pray five times a day? These prayers are scheduled at specific intervals throughout the day and usually take about 5-10 minutes. While most employees may already have their own designated praying areas, some Muslims tend to use the month of Ramadhan to become more religious. This can range from providing a place for first-timers to allowing them to go to a local mosque for prayers.
5. Be considerate in time
Employers and other non-Muslim employees need to learn about the schedule of fasting employees. Some of the things you can take note of: If there are cafeterias for workers, arrange some meals to be saved for people who are fasting as to ease them breaking their fast if they had to stay back at the office. Be mindful of the time you choose to hold meetings. Mornings are the best time to hold meetings as any later will require high concentration from them, which may be difficult on an empty stomach. Lastly, asking them to attend a lunch meeting or a ‘wind-down dinner party (even if it is online) demands a lot. Evenings are usually dedicated to breaking their fast, praying, and other religious activities.