Celebrating Ramadan is a great symbol of inclusion and diversity, which every organization must aim for. However, 2021 is a unique year where your workplaces are either temporarily inactive or operating with 30% staff. A majority of your workforce are WFH (working from home) now, including your Muslim employees, but that mustn’t stop them or you from celebrating this holy month together. The transition from celebrating Ramadan at the workplace to Ramadan at WFH can be a novel way of showing your diverse remote workforce how much you value them.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have made it a little easier for employees who are working from home, but the fasting hours and work haven’t changed.
Muslims around the world have begun observing their holiest month of the year. This annual observance creates a new routine for Muslims where they fast from sunrise to sunset. An average of 15-17 hours will be spent daily for 4 weeks or 30 days without food and water – while continuing with their jobs.
This year in the US, the morning meal (suhur) will be at 4:32 a.m. and people won’t break their fast (iftar) until 7:08 p.m. In the UK, the fasting day is comparatively longer. While the first meal is at 4:30 a.m., fasts won’t be breaking until 8 p.m. That’s almost 20 hours without food and water.
Needless to say, it can get very challenging for your remote Muslims employees. Fighting the work stress and the heat of daytime (in some countries) with nothing but sheer determination isn’t easy. And the first 10 days are really the toughest.
This is where organizations can interfere. A rare opportunity like this gives organizations the best window to really connect with everyone and show themselves as an inclusive employer. As an HR, there is much you can do to support your remote Muslim employees and make them feel belonged to the organization.
Here are 5 simple steps you can take for your remote Muslim employees to celebrate Ramadan at WFH and make them feel valuable.
5 ways to support your remote Muslim employees during Ramadan at WFH
#1. Be aware that Ramadan is taking place
Send an email pan-organization to create awareness about this festive month. Establish who this festival is for and how it can affect them.
Ask your managers in a separate email to stay conscious about the workloads of their remote Muslim team members during their fasting periods; maybe even ask them to lighten their workloads if possible. If there are things that can’t wait, you may allow them the flexibility to work after they break their fast – which brings us to our second point.
#2. Add flexibility to their working hours
Offer your remote Muslim employees the freedom to take time off during regular working hours. Additionally, allow them the flexibility to change their shift times and work at varied hours. They will be mostly energetic at night during this month, hence most productive. Offer them these flexitime options and they will be grateful for your thoughtfulness.
#3. Abstain from zoom meetings that coincides with their ‘iftar’
Iftar or the nightly feast that breaks the fast is not a really good time to conduct meetings and events. They will be energy-drained. Also, they will be spending this time in prayers, meditation, virtual gatherings, and feasts.
If a meeting is important, use the morning hours where they are relatively energetic.
#4. Organize virtual games
Time to get your party planning committee into action. Ask them to come up with an engaging and highly interactive game where the primary focus could be on Ramadan and your remote Muslim workforce.
#5. Plan something big for Eid ul Fitr
Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of this month-long fast. This is the biggest celebration of the year for Muslims – like Christmas is for Christians.
We’ll leave the planning to you here. Tell us in the comments section how you will plan this major event and set another new standard HR leaders have been known for during this pandemic.
Ramadan at WFH is a new and interesting way to express yourself as a caring and inclusive employer. Try and use this important time to build a greater trust with your workforce and improve team dynamics.