Earlier this week, our admin assistant, Sana, delivered a BABS (Briefings At Breakfast Session) on Ramadan, including what it is and why Muslims observe this month.
Sana’s presentation was hugely informative for our team, opening our eyes to her experience as she navigates the month and observes Ramadan at work. Sana shared how non-Muslim colleagues can gain a greater understanding and offer support to her and other Muslim teammates during Ramadan. Using our learning from the session, here are our five ways you can support team members during Ramadan:
- Educate yourself on Ramadan.
Before you can support your Muslim co-workers, it’s important that you understand what Ramadan is and what it means for them. This year, Ramadan takes place from 2nd April to 2nd May (give or take a day). During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset in order to focus on their spirituality, and abstain from drinking water, smoking and any form of intimacy, amongst other things. You will be able to support your Muslim coworkers better throughout the month if you make a conscious effort to find out more about what goes on during this holy period. Remember, there are no silly questions.
- Offer flexibility in work.
One of the main challenges for Muslim co-workers during Ramadan is that their sleeping schedule can be affected, which can make it difficult to adhere to a regular work schedule. For instance, ‘Suhur’, the meal consumed before fasting, occurs in the early hours of the morning, which can make the days feel longer and cause fatigue. If possible, try to offer flexible working so that they can do their work effectively alongside observing Ramadan’s fasting requirements.
- Create a private prayer space.
Muslims pray five times a day during Ramadan, so a quiet and private space for prayer in the workplace will enable this. If your office isn’t equipped with a designated prayer space, try to find an empty conference room or meeting area that they can use discreetly. It is important to let other non-Muslim colleagues know when prayer times are so that they do not disturb those who are praying.
- Consider mental and physical state during fasting.
Ramadan can be an extremely mentally and physically draining time and may affect concentration levels and attention span. Remember to be patient with your co-workers during this time and understand that they may not be able to work at their usual productivity levels. Offer assistance where possible.
- Make time for regular 1-1 check-ins.
It’s a good idea to have regular check-ins with your Muslim co-workers throughout this month. This can be to check on their health and well-being during fasting and to see if they need any support. By doing so, you will be able to ensure that they are having a positive experience during Ramadan and that they don’t feel overwhelmed in the workplace.
Making your workplace as inclusive as possible to cater to all religions is hugely important. Although we have listed our top 5 pieces of advice, there are also some notable mentions that may be considered:
- – Don’t judge Muslim co-workers who are not fasting or ask them why.
- – Take into consideration that Muslims follow the lunar calendar, which is often unpredictable for key Ramadan dates such as Eid.
- – Try not to feel guilty for eating or drinking in front of colleagues who are fasting.
Whilst Ramadan is a period of sacrifice for Muslims, it is also a time for spiritual replenishing and personal growth, and often, Muslims take pride in fasting.
Thank you to Sana. We look forward to supporting our colleagues during this time and taking as much learning as possible!