5 top tips for HR to support employees celebrating Ramadan

About 1.6 billion people, 20% of the world’s population, celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

In 2023, Ramadan begins on March 22 and will end on April 21, culminating in Eid Al-Fitr.

During this period, many Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset and observe religious practices. And they will not drink food or liquid during the day.

They may also observe prayer times more strictly during business hours.

If you have employees who celebrate Ramadan, here are five helpful tips to support them:

1. Policy on religious observances

2. Talk to your teams

3. Be flexible

4. Accept annual leave requests

5. Enable prayer time

Put employees at the heart of your approach and policies

1. Policy on religious observances

Having a policy regarding all religious services during business hours should have a positive impact on employees without impacting your business.

For Ramadan and other religious events, this may mean being more flexible about working hours and working from home, even if you have a flexible hybrid working policy.

For those fasting during Ramadan, it may be necessary to allow more flexibility in their start and finish times so that they can start and finish work earlier to be home in time to break their fast, or take a reduced lunch break within the statutory provisions. : and leave early.

Or equally encourage employees to start and finish later if they are late for religious gatherings.

It is also important that your policy on religious observance applies to all religions, otherwise it will be considered discriminatory.

Finally, make sure all your managers are familiar with the policy and how it may affect members of their teams.

2. Talk to your teams

Ask employees who are celebrating Ramadan at your company how you can best support them. By putting employees at the heart of your approach and policies, you create a culture of truly listening to people first in your company.

Of course, don’t assume that just because an employee is Muslim, they necessarily observe Ramadan.

However, if they are, don’t think that they don’t want to be included in office gatherings. They may not be able to eat, but you can give them something to take home with them when they break their fast, for example.

Don’t feel like you have to go toe-to-toe with the food staff who are fast.

But it goes without saying that fasting employees should not be expected or forced to go to conferences or social events that involve a sit-down meal if they really don’t need to be there.

The key here is to be open with your team and make sure they are well informed and understand.

3. Be flexible

Show compassion and understanding for workers whose productivity may lag, especially at the end of the day when they are fasting.

Consider empowering managers to help fasting employees manage their workload to complete the most important tasks in the morning, or try to schedule meetings earlier in the day if possible.

4. Accept annual leave requests

In many countries, Christian holidays are public holidays, but this is not the same for other religions.

Muslims in your organization may request some time off at the end of Ramadan for Eid Al-Fitr, which is celebrated for three days.

5. Enable prayer time

During Ramadan, those fasting may also be more attentive at prayer times, especially Friday prayers.

Consider giving them short breaks to either go to a local mosque (if there is one nearby) or a quiet area in the office to pray. If you don’t have the latter, consider creating one for the duration of Ramadan.

You might even consider creating a more permanent space or a multifaith prayer room.

Put employees at the heart of your approach and policies

Make sure your religious observance policy is flexible enough to include all religions.

83% of HR leaders say employee experiences will continue to be an increased focus for HR, our latest survey found.

Providing support for your employees to observe religious events such as Ramadan is just one way you can take steps towards this and enhance your employee experiences for everyone.

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