Ramadan is the most sacred month in the Islamic religion. The start of Ramadan alters from year to year. It follows the Islamic calendar, which incorporates the phases of the moon. This year it fell between 4th April and 2nd May in the Gregorian calendar.
It is a month that is demanding and requires spiritual discipline for Muslims, and includes focusing on charity and reflection for things we should be grateful for, such as food and water.
Observers of Ramadan fast during this period. The morning meal – the ‘Suhur’ – is eaten before dawn, marking the beginning of the fast, and the fast ends at sunset, marked with an ‘Iftar’ meal. This year, the fasts have been nearly 14 hours without food or drink (including water). This combination with long, days is challenging for many Muslims at work. Fasting is not supposed to affect working life or compromise safety. However, fasting co-workers may feel tired or lack energy during the days of Ramadan. We have been told by employees that usually the first few days are the hardest.
We wanted to find flexible ways of working that suited the Ramadan schedule.
Why was this important to Vorboss?
We actively promote inclusivity and diversity in our workplace, by encouraging people to be themselves and to bring their whole selves to work each day. This in turn widens our perspectives as a company, drives innovation and creates a positive atmosphere for all.
We wanted our team members to know that we care: we engaged with them, listened to their requirements, and trusted that a different attitude and approach would work.
What did this look like for our teams?
- A dedicated planner conducted teams’ workstreams, so team members could work effectively whilst also participating in Ramadan. The changes included extra breaks, different shift patterns and more regular check-ins.
- Four teams of five people celebrating Ramadan were set up, including mobile field support drivers Working hours for these teams were between 06:00-14:00 daily, so as not to interfere with daily prayers and to fit in with fasting patterns.
- Teams planned work to be nearby to each other: a WhatsApp group was established, and each team was in regular communication with the others, assisting each other with kit and labour, whilst in turn allowing regular breaks for all team members.
- Pre-loaded vans were collected at 06:00 daily and restocked at the end of shifts.
- Weekly Thursday meetings were held at 13:30-14:00 to discuss what was working well and if any improvements needed to be made.
- We allow flexibility for our team members to choose not to have days off on UK national holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, in preference of their own religious holidays. Team members can choose to reallocate these days to align with Ramadan, if they wish.
- Eid al-Fitr – the festival of the breaking of the fast – marks the end of Ramadan, which is celebrated by Muslims for up to three days. Vorboss organised a meal for the to celebrate, all team members companywide were invited to participate
This was the first time Vorboss had planned any work specifically around teams participating in Ramadan. Because of the relationships we have built with our teams, and their superb attitude toward work, it was a huge success. Output was maintained, and even increased in some areas, which proves listening, trusting, and having a flexible approach has a positive outcome for companies and their employees.