Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and signals the start of fasting between sunrise and sunset every day for a month
Muslims all around the world will not consume any food or drink but will continue to work or study during daylight hours. As sunrise/sunset times vary geographically, the length of a fasting day will be different according to the country you are in. Those in the UK will be fasting for about 14 hours every day. Ramadan started on 22 March 2023.
As the Islamic calendar is based around the lunar cycle, Ramadan rotates by approximately ten days each year. The main principles behind Ramadan are to strengthen self-discipline and self-control, and to detox literally and metaphorically by helping those who are less fortunate, donating more to charity, and thinking more spiritually about humanity as a collective rather than yourself as an individual.
In the lead up to it, I geared up mentally and had conversations in the workplace with my manager, colleagues and co-workers.
Why is the month of Ramadan relevant to HCPC?
Our organisation is built on the foundation of our values: Fair, Compassionate, Inclusive and Enterprising. Supporting colleagues during Ramadan is part of building an inclusive work environment where everyone is engaged, respected, valued and feel a sense of belonging because of all the effort from their colleagues/managers.
At HCPC we have a rich, diverse workforce and we actively take steps to celebrate our diversity, appreciate different cultures, views and perspectives, because we know this brings richness and vitality to the fabric of HCPC. Understanding this and applying this in our day-to-day practice means we are able to develop real connections with each other in a way where everyone feels they can bring their authentic self to work which in turn can see an increase in productivity and emotional wellbeing among employees.
How do I adapt to the change in routine?
Fasting should not interfere with everyday tasks at work, however it is good to be mindful that fasting co-workers may be a bit more tired than usual or lacking energy during the day because sleep can be impacted due to the change in routine. However - I have a Ramadan strategy! I've agreed a flexible working pattern for Ramadan with my line manager, which allows me to catch up on myself.
I plan to use my time productively in my working hours and get through my day by using a short lunch break to go for a walk and avoid working through my lunch. My energy levels are higher in the morning and I'll look to prioritise the high-concentration or challenging tasks then. I am a 'to-do list' kind of person and will be looking to organise and plan my work around my fasting during Ramadan.
Ramadan is a very auspicious time of the Islamic calendar. It brings blessings, peace, and harmony to all those who observe the fasting month. To me, Ramadan means allowing myself to follow the guidelines set within our faith to complete a very important pillar of Islam. It also brings families and loved ones together to open the fast and take part in all the preparations for the month and all the activities that follow.
What are we doing to support inclusive practices for our colleagues fasting this month?
Colleagues who are fasting are encouraged to speak to their line managers about supporting them in aspects of work in a way that can make it easier for them. Ramadan isn't only about not eating or drinking during daylight. The change of routine calls for rising early, eating late and taking part in charitable activities or late-night prayers.
Communicating with and demonstrating an awareness and understanding of the needs and concerns of our colleagues will go a long way in fostering healthy relationships in the workplace. We have started raising awareness on Ramadan using our internal communication channels.
At HCPC we recognise that being flexible may help people work when they are most productive. On a practical level we are supporting our Muslim colleagues in the following ways through manager, employee and HR conversations:
- Stay connected with fasting colleagues – call, text or message to see how they are
- Find out if there is anything that you can do to accommodate their needs
- Encourage teams and managers try to avoid holding compulsory team lunches
- Allow flexibility for Muslims to take a few minutes break to pray their daytime prayer – we have a prayer room as a quiet space which can be used as a space for rest too
- Allow flexibility or make temporary adjustments to the working pattern or day e.g. earlier start time and shorter lunch break in return for an earlier finish and allow for short breaks to keep the mind fresh!
- Take breaks in between meetings, avoid hosting very long and/or early morning meetings
- Requests for annual leave during the month and at the end for Eid celebrations- the last ten days of Ramadan are considered especially holy - managers should plan in advance, look at workload, arrange cover and accommodate as much as possible
- HCPC avoids holding events, such as official staff away days and get-togethers during Ramadan
Looking forward to Eid
Eid ul Fitr marks the end of the fasting month. It's like Christmas for Muslims – the biggest celebration of the year. The name 'Eid al-Fitr' translates as 'the festival of the breaking of the fast'. Like the beginning of Ramadan, Eid begins with the first sighting of the new moon.
The Eid feast is really the perfect way to end the month of fasting and it's a reminder of all the things that we have to be grateful for. For me, that is home, family, loved ones, safety and supportive workplace colleagues.
Wishing a Ramadan Mubarak to all of our Muslim colleagues and stakeholders.