The month of Ramadan begins next week, a holy month in which many Muslims will be observing and fasting from sunrise to sunset. Many people who fast during Ramadan will still be working long hours, travelling and practising their daily work/life balance, all whilst not eating or drinking. As someone who will be observing Ramadan myself, it’s important for me to ensure that I keep my physical and mental health and wellbeing a priority and still go about my day to day duties at work.
Here at Thrive, we pride ourselves on ensuring that employees get their workload done whilst still working to their pace to avoid burnout. This includes flexible (or as we call it SMART) working and knowing that you can approach your manager to change your hours without feeling worried or guilty for asking.
As Ramadan was approaching, I knew that by changing my hours, I’d be able to work more productively whilst fasting. For example, when you fast, your breakfast is around 3am and your evening meal around 9pm. I knew that starting work later and finishing later would work for me. Thankfully, our values here mean that I can approach Jodie about this and talk through when I would be in and what days I would need to work from home/holiday i.e. Eid. With all this in mind, I believe religious events and practices need to be acknowledged in the workplace and employers need to make sure they have conversations with employees about what observing these events means for them and their work/life balance. Having these conversations, not only makes employees feel more valued in the workplace, but you are also taking that next step in ensuring that you are promoting smart and flexible working with your employee’s wellbeing in mind.
Here are some common questions you can ask yourself when it comes to considering the impact of religion in the workplace:
What is your policy on religious events and observations in your workplace?
If you don’t have a policy that deals with religious occasions, then you may want to consider whether you need one; take independent advice if you are not sure. Also, it is important to consider where your existing policies could be indirectly discriminating.
Make sure relevant policies are communicated effectively to all employees and don’t assume someone’s religion or belief.
Do your employees know who to ask in your workplace about religious observations such as Ramadan and Eid?
Do your employees have to book a meeting or fill out a form, or is it a case of having a chat with you? Make sure this is clear in any policies or communication around these festivals. Depending on their duties, this can affect the whole team if their hours are altered, so effective communication is necessary to the whole team also.
Are your team outings best suited for all your employees?
Keeping in mind that if any of your employees are fasting, it wouldn’t be best practise to plan a team lunch or evening meal. As outings of this nature will be a team effort, ask your employees what they would prefer to do, some will be okay with being in a group that are all eating but other would prefer not to be.
Be considerate of your colleague’s religion and belief. Not only around specific festivals but generally as this can also be relevant when it comes to arranging staff nights out which only involve drinking alcohol.
Are your employee’s work hours best suited to them when fasting?
Because Ramadan consists of early breakfasts and late dinners, this can have an impact on how someone works throughout the day. It might be beneficial, like what we’ve done, to change your employees’ hours so and days to make their day more productive. This also includes breaks. They might not need a whole hour lunch but allocated breaks for the number of hours they are doing is necessary.
With this in mind, if you have evening or night shift workers, are you able to provide them a place to have their meals? This can be anything from a comfortable space to eat to a meal organised by your team.
Does your business do anything to acknowledge religious occasions online?
If your business is on social media, why not show your support for people observing all religious occasions? This will promote your brand values to a wider audience. As well as this, send emails out to your team marking occasions so that everyone’s in the loop.
These are all steps to further ensure that diversity and inclusion is a top priority in your workplace.