Across England and Wales, 6.5% of the population Muslim - that’s a whopping 3.87 million people.
Britain prides itself on multiculturalism, however, many remain unaware of the core fundamentals of what is the world’s largest non-Christian religion. In the context of the workplace, this has ramifications on inclusion and as a result, usually performance and retention.
While it's impossible to understand the detailed nuances of all religions, it is important to know key dates and understand the context around them to not only show your commitment to religious freedom, but also best support the day-to-day and longer term development of your team. Ramadan - which is takes place this year between the 22 March to 21 April - is one such date and it's already taking place.
What is Ramadan?
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims practice fasting, which is one of the five key pillars of Islam. This means, not eating or drinking between the hours of sunrise to sunset during this period. The fast is broken as a family or community at a meal known as Suhoor/Sehri (c. 4-5am), just prior to dawn, and another just after sunset, known as an Iftar (c. 7-8pm).
Ramadan is also a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends.
What does this mean for Ramadan in the context of the workplace?
Largely, it comes down to being considerate during this period and allowing greater flexibility to ensure staff feel secure in practicing their religion of choice. While this isn’t an all-inclusive list, we’ve pulled together some of the things we’re implementing over the coming weeks to support our team:
- Be flexible with scheduling: Take considerations to allow employees to adjust their work hours during Ramadan to accommodate their fasting schedule and prayer. This could mean allowing them to come in later or leave earlier than usual and not attending the office or events if travel will impede suhoor or iftar or the prayers taking place around those times.
- Educate employees: Educate your non-Muslim employees about Ramadan and the significance of fasting. This can help to create a more inclusive workplace and foster a greater understanding and respect for religious diversity. This shouldn't fall solely on those individuals practicing Islam.
- Mindful of food restrictions: No food or water, means no food or water at all unless it’s a health requirement. Be mindful to not book in team lunches or events where food or water are involved. It might also mean taking a pause on treats in the office.
- Be respectful and understanding: Challenge your managers and leaders to show greater empathy and understanding towards employees who may be feeling tired, low on energy, have difficulty concentrating or performing. Especially if they’re in their first job or two and have limited experience managing the sluggishness that might be caused by long fasting periods. Ask that teams show the same level of kindness.
- Celebrate the end of Ramadan: Eid al-Fitr is a celebration taking place at the end of Ramadan, we’re providing our staff with the day off to be with their family, friends, and community.
Most importantly, ensure you have open dialogue. These are some of the things that have worked for us but it’s important to ask your staff what they would find most helpful in the context or your workplace, taking into account office location, travel, working hours, and internal events. If you’d like to discuss any of the above or other policies to better drive inclusion and retention, please do get in touch – we’d love to help.