Ramadan: Working, recruiting, and searching for jobs

BY Karolina Majcher
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As Ramadan progresses, workplaces in the EMEA adjust to accommodate millions of people’s spiritual practices. But how can we ensure productivity, honor religious observances, and navigate the busy job market effectively during this period? Let’s explore strategies to strike the right balance.

How to optimize the work during Ramadan

It all begins with people. Managers should strive to understand Ramadan’s significance for Muslims, ensuring employees feel supported and valued, thus facilitating smooth workflow.

Leaders should prioritize support, open communication, and flexible schedules during this period. Flexible hours enable employees to accommodate fasting and prayer, effectively managing their energy and productivity. Open communication cultivates empathy, encouraging team members to openly discuss needs and concerns and enabling managers to provide appropriate assistance. Finally, supporting employees through access to prayer spaces, fasting resources, or simply understanding fosters a sense of value and respect, enhancing productivity and inclusivity.

According to advice from Muslim professionals, the optimal time for productive work is between Fajr and Dhuhr prayers when energy and focus are highest. As cognitive energy declines after Dhuhr, pivoting to less demanding operational tasks is advisable. This timeframe aligns well with official Ramadan working hours but may not suit all roles.

Ramadan working hours in the GCC:

  • United Arab Emirates: From 9 am to 2:30 pm Monday-Thursday and from 9 am to 12 pm on Friday for the public sector. Private sector employees are typically entitled to a two-hour reduction in their workday.
  • Saudi Arabia: From 10 am to 3 pm for the public sector and 6 hours daily for private (detailed instructions apply).
  • Oman: From 9 am to 2 pm for the public sector and 6 hours a day for the private sector (detailed instructions apply).
  • Qatar: From 9 am to 2 pm (detailed instructions apply).
  • Bahrain: From 8 am to 2 pm for the public sector and 6 hours a day for the private sector (detailed instructions apply).
  • Kuwait: Typically, 4,5 hours of work within five designated time slots, spanning from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM (detailed instructions apply).

Eid Al Fitr

With Ramadan starting on March 11, Eid Al Fitr will begin on the first of Shawwal, corresponding to either April 9 or April 10 and determining whether Ramadan is 29 or 30 days. In the case of a 29-day Ramadan, employees will receive a six-day holiday, while in a 30-day Ramadan, the holiday length will be 9 days. The start of the holiday and its length may vary depending on the country or part of it and, in most cases, will be confirmed on April 8. However, according to the International Astronomical Center (IAC), Eid Al Fitr in the UAE will begin on Wednesday, April 10.

During this time, numerous employees take paid time off. To maintain critical operations seamlessly, make staffing arrangements in advance and address any urgent matters before Eid to prevent disruptions.

This information is for guidance only, individual countries will announce official holiday start dates and timings for Eid Al Fitr 2024 following the sighting of the crescent moon.

How to efficiently fill positions during Ramadan

We already know the specifics of work during Ramadan and the religious practices altering energy levels and schedules. Therefore, navigating recruitment processes during this time presents unique challenges. However, with proactive planning and cultural sensitivity, you can efficiently fill positions while respecting religious observances.

Our Managing Partner, Sylvia Misiak, shares some best practices to ensure an efficient and respectful recruitment process:

  • Plan Ahead: Anticipate potential delays and adjust timelines accordingly. Start sourcing candidates early and communicate realistic expectations with hiring managers and clients about potential impacts on recruitment timelines.
  • Offer Flexible Scheduling: Demonstrate understanding and accommodate both candidates and interviewers with flexible scheduling options. Consider conducting interviews earlier in the day or providing virtual interview options to minimize disruptions.
  • Engage in Early Outreach: Establish connections before Ramadan begins to maintain momentum in recruitment. Building relationships in advance can mitigate reduced availability during the holy month.
  • Respect Cultural Sensitivities: Prioritize respect by avoiding scheduling interviews or sending emails during iftar time. Be mindful of candidates’ preferences regarding communication and scheduling.
  • Utilize Virtual Platforms: Streamline the hiring process with virtual interviews, assessments, and communication tools. These methods maintain continuity while accommodating Ramadan’s unique circumstances.
  • Offer Remote Work Options: Provide flexibility for recruiters and candidates with remote work options. Supporting their ability to observe religious practices enhances the recruitment experience.
  • Demonstrate Empathy: Foster positive engagement by showing empathy towards fasting candidates. Offer patience, support, and flexibility in scheduling and accommodations as needed.
  • Maintain Clear Communication: This is essential for managing expectations and keeping candidates informed about adjustments or delays due to Ramadan, which helps maintain engagement throughout the process.

How to apply for jobs during Ramadan

There’s absolutely no need to pause your job search during the Holy Month, even though things might move slightly slower. Recruitment efforts generally continue, with some companies even ramping up their efforts to attract top talent.

During Ramadan, navigating your job search requires a balance of awareness and adaptability. Be mindful of adjusted working hours and schedule interviews and meetings accordingly, respecting both your availability and that of hiring managers. Avoid contacting potential employers or scheduling interviews during prayer times or iftars. Flexibility is key; be open to adjusting schedules and demonstrate an understanding of cultural practices.

Patience and respect are essential, as the hiring process may take longer due to adjusted hours. Minimize follow-ups and allow space for employers to respond within their timelines to maintain professionalism and understanding.

Other tips for navigating the job market during Ramadan include utilizing online platforms for job searches, attending iftar gatherings and networking events, and using the time to enhance your skills.

Published: 8 April 2024

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