Ramadan, fasting month

Each employee may have individual needs and engage in Ramadan differently for personal reasons, so it would be best to listen to their voices and - wherever possible - provide the support suited to them, writes Arina Sofiah.

With the holy month of Ramadan starting on 2 April 2022, many Muslims all around the world will be fasting from dawn to dusk. While fasting is commonly known, many of us may not know that there are also other practices they may follow, such as nightly communal prayers and charity. 

With all of us in HR and beyond constantly striving to become better managers and leaders, we at HRO continue to push out advice and nuggets of information as and when you may need it. In light of this, here are some tips and ideas for you to help support your Muslim employees in the month of Ramadan, wherever possible and requested for: 

1. Effort and a supportive attitude 

The easiest starting point of them all - having the right mindset. This can range from educating ourselves on the cultural practices during Ramadan, to simply being sensitive and mindful of Muslim employees' needs. Doing your own research into Ramadan will serve as a good way to know what your employees need.  Each employee may have individual needs and engage in Ramadan differently for personal reasons, so it would be best to listen to their voices and provide the support suited to them. 

Send heartfelt wishes to your Muslim employees! Whether they mark the month by fasting or not, simply showing your employees that you are putting in the effort to support and accommodate them will be extremely appreciated. 

2. Flexible work timings

A single day of fasting during Ramadan goes beyond merely not eating during the day. Muslims wake up before the sun rises to prepare for and eat sahūr - their pre-dawn meal. Their next meal to break their fast, iftar, only occurs once the sun sets. Apart from the usual five prayers a day, many Muslims also partake in Terawih -  communal prayers every night for the month. 

As such, many Muslims have to plan their day to adhere to specific timings. Employers can show their support by allowing for more flexible working arrangements and timings when necessary. 

3. Provide a space

You may consider providing a simple, clean space for employees to rest and relax during the lunch break, or a room to carry out the daily prayers - this could simply be an extra meeting room or conference. Having a private space can help your employees feel more comfortable, without having to worry about stepping out of the office.

4. Sharing session

In conjunction with the first tip, you may ask your Muslim employees if they would be comfortable or like to conduct a small sharing session on Ramadan! Fostering understanding and support is a team effort after all. Shedding some light on Ramadan and its practices would help eliminate any possible unintended misunderstandings, especially on sensitive topics such as flexible timings and lunch breaks. 

5. Have a nice iftar together

Last but not least, treat your employees to a nice meal wherever possible, and within the social & community guidelines. For Muslims, iftar is a time to replenish, and nothing is more heart-warming than a nice meal after a day of discipline. Having everyone together for some good food would perfectly encapsulate the symbol of gratitude, generosity, and camaraderie of iftar, and the celebratory mood in anticipation of the upcoming Aidilfitri, which many are looking forward to. 

Lead image / 123rf.com

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