This week, Muslims across the world began their annual observance of Ramadan. The month-long fast, which started Sunday, May 5th will continue until Tuesday, June 4th, ending with “Eid al-Fitr”, a day of celebration filled with delicacies, gifts, lights and more.
During the next several weeks, observers are not allowed to eat or drink (even water) from sunrise to sunset daily, among other things. The focus, instead, is on prayer and taking part in charitable acts, to renew gratitude.
Dynamic cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Raleigh, are becoming evermore diverse and necessitate an adaptive approach to how companies do business and nurture a culturally responsive workplace. Moving from ignorance to understanding is a great start—but it is moving beyond mere tolerance to respect and empathy that will ensure your employees loyalty when they know that they belong.
With this truth in mind, here are five ways you can support your Muslim employees during Ramadan:
1. Be aware that it’s happening. It may sound simple, but this is a great start. Even just knowing what Ramadan is, why it’s taking place, and how it’s affecting your employees will help you become more understanding to out-of-the-ordinary behavior or requests.
2. Look for signs of physical decline. In all fields, but especially physically demanding jobs (like manufacturing, construction, landscaping and service), it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs your employee might be in danger. Employees may be adamant about keeping up with their regular workload and hesitant to ask for a much-needed break.
Look for physical symptoms of dizziness and low blood sugar, and encourage them to get plenty of rest. You may even need to communicate to your team to have more patience than normal for uncommon mistakes, as dehydration and changes in blood sugar can cause “brain fog.” Be willing to allow an employee to go home early and rest, as needed, so that they can come back more refreshed and ready to tackle their workload.
3. No need to lighten the workload, but don’t add to it. In being aware that Ramadan is taking place, it’s imperative to note that these 30 days are not the time to add additional projects on top of your Muslim employees’ regular workload. Table anything that can wait until the fast is complete. Your employee will be grateful for this thoughtfulness.
4. Abstain from offering your Muslim employees food or scheduling mandatory lunch meetings during this time. No need to go overboard—your employee does not expect everyone to cater to his or her needs. Just don’t expect him or her to participate in normal lunch activities, as they may be going somewhere else to avoid a rumbling stomach and focus on prayer, instead.
5. Don’t be fearful. Ramadan is simply a journey to becoming a more grateful, humble person, and is a completely normal part of the Muslim religion.
Atlanta staffing administrative coordinator, Sana Hajizadah, explains, “The month of Ramadan is a month you can pray for forgiveness and work for charity. When you’re fasting, it doesn’t’ mean you’re harming yourself. It means you feel the same thing homeless and hungry people are feeling every day. It makes you more humble and grateful. It’s not stirring up thoughts of anger, but thoughts of compassion.”
In conclusion, Ramadan is a deeply meaningful part of the Muslim religion. When you support your staff during this time, showing compassion and support, it will be rewarded with grateful, loyal, high-performing employees.
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