With Eid just around the corner, now is a great opportunity to review business practices around engaging with staff from different cultures or religions to promote inclusivity, ensuring staff feel they have a safe space to mark celebrations important to them. The UK is a predominantly Christian country, and some people may have limited knowledge about Eid or the importance of celebrations to Muslims. Sending your colleagues an ‘Eid Mubarak’ message is a great first step to embracing our colleagues and their cultures, but having a better understanding of the event, what is being celebrated and what might happen gives us great insight into pre-empting the needs of our employees during the time of celebration.
We saw some fantastic examples of businesses embracing diversity during Easter earlier this year when they remained open to support their customers through the bank holiday weekend, populated by staff who wished to save the bank holidays for religious celebrations later in the year that were important to them. Accommodations like this is just one way of embracing diversity in the workforce, which benefits the business and employee alike.
To help us learn more about Eid, we are really excited to introduce edays People Advisor Alisha.
Alisha is a bubbly and enthusiastic individual who is passionate about how people feel at work. She identified this passion when she studied Diversity Management during her Erasmus programme in Vienna and then taking on an amazing opportunity to work in HRSS at Vodafone in London. Her passion for HR grew even more so she decided to study further, completing her Masters in HRM and obtaining her CIPD level 7 qualification. She is ready to apply all her knowledge into practice in her role as People Advisor at edays
What is Eid?
Eid is a religious festival celebrated by all Muslims from different cultures and ethnicities, globally. As you may be aware already, there are two types of Eid: Eid Ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and Eid Al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice – which is my favourite one by the way (only because we celebrate for longer and have more traditional food – lol)!
And of course, the reasoning behind its festive name ‘Sacrifice’ – want to know why? Let me tell you!
Eid Al-Adha actually occurs on the 10th day of Pilgrimage and the phrase ‘Festival of sacrifice’, comes from a historical event that took place during the time of the Prophet Ibrahim. During the process of God testing how devoted and faithful Prophet Ibrahim was to the religion, God asked him to sacrifice something he loved. Without hesitation, Prophet Ibrahim decided to sacrifice his beloved son. As this was a test from God, during the time of sacrifice, God replaced the Prophet’s son with an animal.
Since then, every Eid Al-Adha, Muslims around the world sacrifice an animal of their choice (done in the most humanely way possible), and distribute meat from the animal to the people in need as well as neighbours and family members.
A Typical day on Eid!
It’s not just about distributing meat! Although Muslims adhere to their daily prayers, they tend to get together outside and read as a community and take the odd selfie in their Eid garms! A lot of food is eaten during the day – to a point where most of us are in a food coma and traditionally giving money to the youngest members of family. And yes, I now have to give money to my little cousins as I am an ‘adult’
Celebrating religious events in the workplace.
As you now know a bit me about my religious celebration as a Muslim, I bet you are now wondering what the story is behind other religious events, like Diwali, Holi, Chinese New year, etc. – I would encourage you to go and find out! Whether that be asking someone who celebrates it to tell you more, or reading more about it online.
In today’s society we work alongside people with different religious backgrounds and ethnicities. I think it is important to acknowledge requirements of specific celebrations and to understand what they mean to the individual.
In my experience, I have always been blessed to be working for amazing companies that cared, understood and supported the religious events throughout the year. My time during Ramadan was as smooth as a sail. Due to the lack of sleep, water and food whilst working, my line manager ensured I was okay to work on a regular basis. I was given the option to work from home more if needed, and when in, the office colleagues were mindful when eating around me. I was even given the option to take a nap in the prayer room during my lunch break if needed! Eid celebrations were always a treat! I was supported in a traditional samosa sale at work, where all money raised went to a charity of my choice! Understanding an individual’s relationship with their religion will help you and the rest of your colleagues become more of an inclusive environment. In return, this makes an individual not only feel included, but also feel valued and acknowledged, which will not only benefit staff retention, but also promote a culture of open conversation and learning in the workplace.
5 Tips to Support Staff Celebrating Religious Holidays
- Prayer time, space, & facilities – provide a dedicated private space during celebrations where staff can conduct prayer away from their colleagues if possible or allow staff the time to take part in prayer throughout the day.
- Respect for those fasting – if staff are taking part in fasting, ideally their colleagues would be sympathetic and check in to make sure they are okay. Another great way to promote inclusion is to have a business wide lunch or treat to mark the end of a fast together.
- Potential last minute annual leave – as an example some religious holidays are determined by the sighting of the moon. Staff may not know when celebrations will take place until a few days before. Where possible offer leniency on annual leave notice periods.
- Trade bank holidays – As mentioned above, a great way to support business activity and employees is to offer flexibility to trade UK bank holidays that centre around Christian holidays, such as Easter or Christmas, for time off during other religious celebrations. This enables support for your customers through busy holiday periods and promotes inclusivity amongst your workforce.
- Increase your awareness – Educating yourself and your team on what a holiday is and why it is celebrated helps promote understanding of one another. Part of this can include understanding dress or dietary requirements.
Lewis is a highly skilled marketing professional with extensive experience in the HR and SaaS sectors. His writing focuses on discussing key topics and challenges for HR surrounding absence and leave management, digital transformation, employee experience and effective resource planning.