If you are Muslim, or know someone who is, you likely know that Ramadan started on Sunday night (July 31st) and that it will run for a month. While it isn’t a religious observance that requires absence from work, it can impact the workplace. For those of you who don’t think religion has a place at work, think again.
Ramadan is the ninth month (and the holiest month) in the Islamic calendar. Since the Islamic calendar is lunar (using the cycles of the moon) this means that when referenced on a Gregorian calendar (used in North America and most Western countries) that is static, the dates change yearly. Ramadan is a month of fasting and spiritual reflection. While you may be tempted to brush this aside as “not my business” there are some implications that, if acknowledged, can make this month much smoother for everyone in the office.
During Ramadan, devout Muslims eat only before sunrise and after sunset. For some, this even includes water. The length and heat of summer days adds to the challenge. Here are three suggestions that you can implement until August 30th, to acknowledge the reality of fasting employees. I’m sure you will agree that all of these fall within reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
If you have ever skipped lunch because you were too busy, you know how this can affect your concentration and patience (among other things) later in the day as your blood sugar drops. Scheduling meetings in the morning means your fasting employees will have more energy. Board meetings that typically occur in the evenings, or expectations to meet with clients over dinner are especially problematic.
Get togethers and celebrations:
Although your fasting employees will likely say “don’t worry about me, I just won’t eat” think about it: if you hadn’t eaten since the sun came up, and had hours to go, would you want to stand around and make small talk over hors d’oeuvres? If you can postpone the festivities until Ramadan is over, do so.
If your company does flex time, this may be something to discuss with your employees who are fasting. Working earlier in the day and/or from home may be an option they may like to consider during Ramadan.
Still think religion doesn’t impact work? Think again.
copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder