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Supporting Muslim Employees Through Ramadan

6 March 2024

12 min read

Amanda Chua
Amanda Chua

With over 2 billion Muslims worldwide, representing diverse backgrounds and cultures, it is likely that a portion of your workforce observes Ramadan. As Ramadan holds great significance for Muslims, it is crucial for employers to consider how they can support their Muslim employees and  As such, the chances that a segment of your workforce observes Ramadan is high. Since the month is of very high regard to Muslims, it’s important for you, as an employer, to think about how to support your Muslim employees and how to celebrate Ramadan at work

As Ramadan approaches, this guide provides strategies on how to celebrate Ramadan at work, ensuring that Muslim employees feel respected and included during this spiritual period. 

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, spiritual reflection, and increased devotion to worship. It’s considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam and holds great significance for Muslims.

The reason behind its observance is to commemorate the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad, and it’s an opportunity for Muslims to strengthen their faith and improve themselves spiritually.

Ramadan involves abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset every day for 29 or 30 days (depending on the lunar cycle), as well as engaging in increased acts of charity and prayer. The exact number of fasting hours varies depending on the location, but it can range from 11 to 18 hours a day.

It’s worth mentioning that not all Muslims are required to fast during Ramadan. Children, elderly individuals, pregnant or nursing women, and those with health conditions that may be worsened by fasting are exempted from the obligation. Menstruating women are also not required to fast. 

However, all of these groups can still engage in other spiritual activities and are encouraged to do so through prayer, reflection, and participating in charitable deeds.

When does Ramadan start and end in 2024?

This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on the night of 10 March 2024 and end on the evening of 9 April 2024. However, the date is subject to change as the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, which means the beginning of a new month depends on the sighting of the crescent moon.

Ways to Support Employees During Ramadan

how to celebrate Ramadan at work

When considering ways to support your employees or how to celebrate Ramadan at work, it’s important to recognize that supporting your employees during Ramadan involves more than just greeting them with “Ramadan Kareem”.

As an inclusive employer, it’s important to think of how to celebrate Ramadan at work or how to support Ramadan at work by creating a supportive environment for your Muslim employees. That way, they can observe the holy month without experiencing additional stress or feelings of exclusion.

Now that you’ve understood the importance of Ramadan, let’s dive into the ways on how to celebrate Ramadan at work and how to support Ramadan at work to promote employee engagement and foster an inclusive culture.

Looking for more employee engagement ideas?

1. Working arrangements

When it comes to how to celebrate Ramadan at work, it’s important to understand the typical daily schedule of your Muslim employees. They will fast from dawn until sunset, refraining from food, drink, and certain activities. After sunset, they will break their fast and may engage in spiritual activities until sunrise. Understanding and accommodating these routines can help create a supportive environment during Ramadan. 

Given the circumstances, two significant changes occur during Ramadan that you can help alleviate if you’re considering how to support Ramadan at work: fatigue and low energy levels due to fasting, and longer nights with less sleep due to nighttime prayers and spiritual activities. Here are some ways you can ease these issues for your employees: 

Offer flexible working hours

Flexible working hours can help your employees manage their energy levels. For instance, they could start work earlier in the day to wrap up earlier in the afternoon when they need to break their fast and might be feeling fatigued. Alternatively, if they stay up late at night, they could start work later in the morning to get more sleep and remain productive.

Provide remote or hybrid work options

Remote or hybrid work model presents another option, particularly for those with lengthy commutes. By working from home, they can save time and energy that would otherwise be spent on commuting during the fasting hours. 

Additionally, they’ll feel less pressured, knowing that they can make the most of their special evenings without the concern of a long journey to work the next morning.

Relevant reads:

Fostering work-life balance

The final ten days of Ramadan are considered the most holy and spiritual, with many Muslim employees seeking time off work to focus on prayer and reflection. 

While you don’t necessarily have to grant your employees the entire ten days off, part of understanding how to celebrate Ramadan at work involves respecting this aspect. Being flexible with approving time off requests during this period will make a huge difference to your Muslim employees, fostering a sense of inclusion and boosting employee motivation, which they will remember throughout the year. 

Following Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a three-day festival marking its end. While the exact dates aren’t set in stone, it’s worth keeping an eye out and being aware of these celebrations just like learning how to celebrate Ramadan at work.

During this time, you should expect a relatively high volume of time off requests from your Muslim employees. These requests may also be on short notice, as the exact dates of Eid al-Fitr are determined only a few days in advance. Many companies offer time off for this holiday, at least for the first day, so it’s important to be prepared for this. Likewise, some APAC countries may declare these dates as public holidays.

2. Workplace Environment

In addition to considering work arrangements, understanding how to celebrate Ramadan at work involves creating a supportive and inclusive workplace environment. 

Foster a culture of understanding and respect

It is important to educate all employees about the significance of Ramadan and its practices, fostering empathy and understanding. This can be done through workshops, presentations, or informational emails. 

Encouraging open communication and empathy among colleagues is also key to creating a supportive environment where everyone feels valued and respected, regardless of their religious beliefs or practices.

Furthermore, simple gestures like being considerate of noise levels during prayer times and providing snacks such as dates, fruits, and water during Iftar (the breaking of the fast) can greatly contribute to making your employees feel appreciated and included. 

Avoid offering food and drink during the day

Regarding food and drinks, an important aspect on how to celebrate Ramadan at work or how to support Ramadan at work is to avoid offering food and drinks throughout the day during Ramadan. Instead, consider planning team lunches or dinners closer to Iftar time. This not only respects their religious practices but also creates a sense of camaraderie and belonging among colleagues. 

Decorating the office

Another great way on how to celebrate Ramadan at work and how to support Ramadan at work is by decorating the office for Ramadan. Similar to how you would decorate the office for holidays such as Christmas, consider celebrating Ramadan at work by adorning the office with lanterns, colorful lights, and banners that extend blessings to your Muslim colleagues for a blessed Ramadan.

3. Practical support

Finally, if you are seeking practical ways on how to celebrate Ramadan at work or how to support Ramadan at work, we have a few suggestions for you. 

Providing dedicated prayer space

Muslim employees are required to pray five times a day, and two to three of these prayers may occur during work hours. 

As an employer, part of how to celebrate Ramadan at work and how to support Ramadan at work is to provide a designated prayer space in the workplace. This could be a quiet room or even a converted unused office. That way, employees do not have to leave the office premises or feel uncomfortable praying in a public space.

Also, it’s not just about creating the space but also to be understanding of their prayer breaks. Employees should feel comfortable and encouraged to take breaks for prayer without feeling guilty, judged, or rushed. This is particularly important as praying on time is considered a religious obligation.

Organizing communal Iftar gatherings

Another way on how to celebrate Ramadan at work is by organizing communal Iftar gatherings. Allowing your Muslim employees to break their fast with their colleagues can create a sense of community and deepen relationships among team members.

These gatherings provide an opportunity for colleagues to share in the observance of Ramadan and enhance understanding and respect for different cultural and religious practices. 

Establishing employee support groups 

Consider establishing employee support groups to assist those who may be struggling to balance work and fasting. These groups can provide a platform for employees to share their experiences, challenges, and tips on managing Ramadan at work.

Flexible meeting schedules and deadline extensions

Fasting during Ramadan can be physically and mentally taxing, potentially leading to tasks taking longer to complete unintentionally. Providing your employees with some flexibility during this time can significantly improve their productivity and well-being, reducing burnout.

As part of thinking about how to support Ramadan at work, you could also adjust meeting schedules to accommodate your fasting employees. This can mean avoiding scheduling meetings around prayer times, Iftar, and similar periods. 

Another approach is to consult your employees on how to celebrate Ramadan at work or how to support Ramadan at work to determine the most suitable meeting times during this month. The key is to be understanding, flexible and communicate openly with your employees. 

Demonstrating awareness of their religious obligations and a willingness to make their lives easier can greatly boost their morale and motivation.

Omni Tip on how to celebrate Ramadan at work:
During Ramadan, employees may hesitate to discuss their religious practices or concerns with supervisors in fear of being misunderstood. To avoid this, it is important to create a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their needs and concerns openly, without fear of judgment.

Frequently Asked Questions

how to celebrate Ramadan at work

1. How long is Ramadan?

Ramadan is typically a month-long Islamic holiday. However, because the Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, the exact number of days may vary from year to year. Typically, it lasts 29 to 30 days.

2. How do people fast during Ramadan?

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, refraining from eating, drinking (including water), smoking, and other activities. They also strive to avoid negative thoughts and behaviors, such as gossiping. The fast is broken at sunset with a meal called Iftar.

3. Can employees work during Ramadan?

Yes, employees observe Ramadan at work normally. However, it’s important for employers to be understanding and look into how to support Ramadan at work to accommodate their employees’ religious obligations during this time and also consider how to celebrate Ramadan at work to do their part in being inclusive. 

4. How many hours shall employees work during Ramadan?

In many countries, there are specific regulations or guidelines revolving around how to celebrate Ramadan at work and how to support Ramadan at work. These include adjusting work hours for employees observing Ramadan to make provisions for their fast. 

Generally, work hours are shortened to allow for more rest and to observe religious practices more comfortably. For instance, in the UAE, the workday is reduced by two hours.

It’s recommended that employers consult relevant legislation and guidelines to know how to celebrate Ramadan at work and how to support Ramadan at work. Employers can consider reducing work hours or implementing flexible scheduling for employees fasting during Ramadan. This not only supports their well-being but also helps in maintaining productivity levels during the fasting period.

5. What to greet colleagues during Ramadan?

When it comes to how to celebrate Ramadan at work, greeting colleagues is a great way to do it. It’s considerate and respectful to use the traditional greeting, “Ramadan Mubarak,” which means “Blessed Ramadan.” Another common phrase is “Ramadan Kareem,” translating to “Generous Ramadan.” “Happy Ramadan” is also widely accepted as a friendly and respectful greeting.

Also, part of knowing how to support Ramadan at work is to avoid making statements like “I’m sorry you have to fast” or “It must be hard not eating during the day.” These comments may come across as dismissive of an individual’s personal beliefs. 

Most Muslims look forward to Ramadan and find it a spiritually uplifting month. So, focus on well-wishes and appreciation for their dedication to observing Ramadan.

Leverage HR Technology to Boost Employee Engagement

Dive into the Ramadan month with our tips on how to support Ramadan at work and how to celebrate Ramadan at work. Supporting your employees during the fasting month is not only a gesture of respect for their religious beliefs but also a way to foster a more inclusive and understanding workplace culture

By being mindful of their needs, offering flexibility, and creating a supportive environment, you can help your Muslim employees observe Ramadan with ease, ensuring they feel valued and appreciated. 

Stay on top of every upcoming festive celebration with Omni’s customizable dashboard which allows your teams to set and manage calendars pre-loaded with country or region specific holidays and timezones. 

Our robust time off management capabilities allow HR teams to streamline the management process of leave requests during Ramadan period. Omni also seamlessly integrates with your team’s most loved work tools such as Slack, enabling managers to receive and manage time off approvals directly within the messaging platform, removing time-consuming steps from leave management with a quick push of a button. With automated calculations, employees and managers can easily view leave balances in real-time without the intervention of HR. 

Book a demo with our team to learn more about how Omni can support your international workforce during the spiritual month of Ramadan.

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