by Sahar Deshmukh | 21 May 2019
Ramadan can be a challenging time for employees, so it is important that businesses are aware of what they can do to support staff who are fasting. In this Q&A, Sahar Deshmukh offers her advice to business leaders, and tell us about the challenges of partaking in Ramadan whilst working.
Ramadan is the holy month when Muslims celebrate the revelation of the Holy Quran. It is also a time when Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset, but it is so much more than just abstaining from food and drink. It is a time to reflect on one’s actions and words and purify mind, body and soul. It is a spiritual and physical detox in a sense.
During this month, Muslims dedicate as much time as they can in worship and doing charitable deeds, as the rewards are multiplied in this month. The idea is to be on your best behaviour to attain high reward and carry on with these habits beyond Ramadan.
Ramadan lasts around 29 or 30 days, and Eid is then celebrated upon the sighting of the moon.
What key things people/businesses need to be aware of during Ramadan?
There are a number of things I believe businesses should be made aware of during Ramadan, these include:
- Offer a safe space to pray: while the five prayers are obligatory outside of Ramadan, Muslims can be more particular about praying on time during this month. Businesses should try and accommodate their staff with a prayer room or some space where they can offer prayers,
- Be considerate: people should try and be considerate when eating around those who are fasting whenever they can. It is a good idea to avoid asking if a person is fasting. They may have a health condition preventing them from doing so, which can be quite hard for someone who wants that spiritual connection within Ramadan.
- Respect people’s wishes: in general, be mindful that when someone is fasting, they may not have the energy to go out for company events or other social events. Be sensitive to their needs and religious sentiments and be supportive in any way you can.
What are the challenges of doing Ramadan whilst working?
It can be difficult to go through each day without food and drink, particularly during the long summer days in the UK. Sleeping patterns are massively disrupted during this time, so energy will be low and concentration levels will not be the same as outside of Ramadan. The biggest challenge at work is concentration. People can also experience extreme drowsiness as a result of low energy and lack of adequate sleep. It is not easy to explain this to your management who may not be able to understand how tough it is to endure fasting for 18 hours and how it is affecting your productivity. It can also be exhausting to travel while fasting, which can be difficult to avoid if your job requires frequent travel. Businesses need to bear this in mind.
How can business leaders help/support staff that are taking part in Ramadan?
Business leaders/managers can support their staff during this month in numerous ways. These include;
- By re-evaluating the work of their staff who are fasting. The key for senior staff and all colleagues is to be patient with those who are fasting and assist where they can to help make the month go by smoother.
- It may be helpful to offer flexible working hours during this time, a shorter day or frequent breaks during those moments of extreme exhaustion. Each individual is different in what they can cope with, so if a person has specific needs during this time, then they should be discussing it with their managers to see what is feasible.
- Avoid any company events that offer lunch during this time. All senses are heightened while fasting, particularly your sense of smell. It may make participation at such events harder than a regular day of fasting.
- Some people may request extra time off during the last ten days of Ramadan, as those are considered to be the most important nights. Many men confine themselves to the mosque dedicating them to worship and women can choose to do the same in their homes to achieve a greater reward. Businesses should try to accommodate these needs when they can to allow their staff to have a greater spiritual connection.
- Business should try and raise awareness about the month, so people know what it entails.
If you are currently taking part in Ramadan we would love to hear about your experiences and what your business is doing to support you! Please contact us, or you can engage with us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.