Productivity in Ramadan: RESULTS (Work Environment)

RESULTS (Work Environment):

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Productivity in Ramadan 2011 Report

The remainder of the results in this report reflect the answers of the surveys employed respondents.

 

How do Muslims feel about their work productivity during Ramadan?

A majority (77%) of the working professional respondents said they try to maintain the same level of work productivity during Ramadan as they do outside of Ramadan, and feel that work should continue uninterrupted.

One key implication of this finding is that people do not expect adjustments to their work hours.  This is also highlighted by the earlier response that showed the greatest challenges to having a spiritual Ramadan do not include work flexibility.

However, 15% thought work should not be a priority, while a small percentage (3%) answered that nobody works during Ramadan.  Meanwhile, 18% of the respondents felt their productivity does drop during Ramadan.  This result was consistent in the responses of Muslim majority OIC countries as well as non-OIC markets (US, India, and UK being the largest such respondent countries).

Question:  How is your work productivity during Ramadan?  (multiple select)
Question: How is your work productivity during Ramadan? (multiple select)

What special adjustments do employers make during Ramadan?

49% of the Muslim working professional respondents said their employers set special adjusted Ramadan hours.   Other activities included: Iftar gatherings (22%), arrangements for special prayer time facilities (16%), and special Eid gatherings or gift-giving (14%).

There is, however, a stark difference between the responses from Muslim majority country respondents (OIC countries – Malaysia, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudia Arabia, and UAE being the largest respondent countries in this case) and non-OIC based respondents (US, India, and UK being the largest such respondent countries).

Whereas 76% of the OIC working professionals said employers set special Ramadan hours, only 25% of the respondents from non-OIC countries said the same.  Similarly for all other adjustments, the non-OIC responses claimed much less adjustment than those from OIC countries.

This is perhaps to be expected.  However, this response indicates that non-OIC based HR teams should consider further facilities to accommodate their Muslims employees, using OIC Ramadan practices as benchmark.  There was an overwhelming majority of open comments from non-OIC based respondents to this question (164 out of 217 comments).

A selection of respondent comments and all charts can be viewed by downloading the full report (PDF)

Question: During Ramadan, your employer/organization:  (multiple select)
Question: During Ramadan, your employer/organization: (multiple select)

How satisfied are respondents with their employers
support during Ramadan?

60% of the respondents said they were satisfied with their employers support during Ramadan, agreeing that their employers go out of their way to provide flexibility during Ramadan.  Meanwhile 27% said no, and the remaining respondents had other open-ended comments (summarized below).

Similar to the above question, there is a stark difference between the responses from Muslim majority countries (Malaysia, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE being the largest respondent countries in this case) and non-OIC respondents (US, India, and UK being the largest such respondent countries).

19% of OIC based respondents were unhappy with their employers’ support, whereas this number jumps to 35% for non-OIC based respondents. 74% of the OIC based respondents were happy with their employers’ support during Ramadan.  The number dropped to 48% for respondents from non-OIC countries.

The fact that 48% of the non-OIC respondents were happy is encouraging.  This is a strong indication that non-OIC countries tend to be accommodating to Muslims, although there is much room for improvement.

At the same time, OIC based HR groups have opportunities to evaluate employee satisfaction of their own Ramadan support programs.

Questions asked:  Are you happy with your employer/organizations support and flexibility during Ramadan?
Questions asked: Are you happy with your employer/organizations support and flexibility during Ramadan?

What are some of the areas employers can improve upon in their support during Ramadan?

42% of the respondents would like employers to set special Ramadan hours.  This request was much stronger among non-OIC based respondents (49% as opposed to 33% from those in OIC countries).  Another strong area of request from non-OIC based respondents was for employers to arrange special prayer times or facilities (38%).  Given that 77% of respondents earlier said that work should continue uninterrupted, this request of Ramadan work-hour flexibility (not necessarily reduction but adjustment) and prayer facilities signifies a need to help fasting employees deliver consistent work product while satisfying their Ramadan needs.

A sizeable number of OIC based respondents (34% and 36%) suggested that employers arrange Iftar gatherings, Eid gatherings and gift-giving as additional employee activities during Ramadan.  This expectation was much lower from non-OIC based respondents.

Question:  What are some of the things your employer/organization can do to improve its support of Ramadan?   (multiple select)
Question: What are some of the things your employer/organization can do to improve its support of Ramadan? (multiple select)

 

Does a company’s productivity suffer during Ramadan?

The majority of respondents (72%) agreed that their company’s productivity does not suffer during Ramadan, and that it is business as usual.  As can be expected, this response was stronger from non-OIC based respondents (81% versus 61% from OIC based respondents.)  Noteworthy is that 26% of OIC based respondents did think their company’s productivity does unnecessarily suffer during Ramadan.

Questions asked:  Do you believe your company's productivity suffers during Ramadan?
Questions asked: Do you believe your company’s productivity suffer during Ramadan?

 

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Productivity in Ramadan Study: Methodology & Profile

Methodology & Respondent Profile:

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Productivity in Ramadan 2011 Report

Data Collection: The 2011 Productivity in Ramadan survey was conducted between June 28, 2011 and July 10, 2011, ending before the start of Ramadan 2011.  The survey was conducted online in the English language only and marketed to Muslims in five key Muslim-majority countries (Malaysia, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE) and five countries with sizeable Muslim minorities (USA, UK, India, Canada, and Australia) through ProductiveMuslim Ltd and DinarStandard.com’s network of readers and followers (estimated reach of over 90,000).

Fifteen questions were asked, which fell under the following categories:

Scoring: The survey was designed to ensure that respondents could answer all questions as easily as possible.  This was done by asking a limited set of questions with most questions being ‘multiple select’ options.  In all such questions, and any binary (YES/NO) questions, participants were given the option to select OTHER as an option and provide their open-ended answers.

Respondent Countries & OIC/ Non-OIC Country breakdown
Respondent Countries & OIC/ Non-OIC Country breakdown

Respondent Profile:

The survey received a total of 1524 valid responses.  Valid responses were those with complete demographic information submitted.  This response rate represents 99% confidence level with a +/- 4% margin of error.

46% of the responses were from Muslim majority OIC member countries, while 54% of the responses were from non-OIC countries (See Chart).  The number of respondents from both OIC and non-OIC countries is fairly evenly distributed and allows us to show differences in spiritual and work experience, productivity, and expectation among these two environments.

The Chart below also shows percentage of responses from each country and shows a varied geographic distribution across non-OIC and OIC markets.

Within OIC member countries, the largest number of responses were from Malaysia (28%), Pakistan (14%), Egypt (13%), Saudi Arabia (8%), and United Arab Emirates (UAE) (7%).  Among non-OIC countries, most responses were from United States (USA) (26%), United Kingdom (UK) (23%), India (16%), Canada (10%), and Australia (5%).   Given the low number of per country responses, much of the analysis is done at the OIC and non-OIC aggregate country levels.  For the purposes of the survey, the sample size and distribution are within acceptable limits and therefore enable us to make valid inferences about the Muslim population.

Gender distribution of the survey respondents is 59% female and 41% male.  53% of the responses are from working professionals (any employed person), 38% from students, and 9% are unemployed.

63% of the respondents have completed college (40% graduate, 23% post graduate).  The income of 66% of respondents is less than $45,000/year, and 17% earn above $66,000/year.

Survey Limitations: This survey has a few limitations which may affect the accuracy of the results:

There is a response bias element to the participant profile of this survey.  First, an assumption can be made that those who participate and respond to the survey are predisposed to Islam.   Second, the survey is reflective of English-speaking Muslims across the world.  Finally, the survey presents an employee assessment of work productivity impact and does not take the employer view into account.  These factors limit the survey’s ability to truly represent the wide diversity of Muslim views even from the targeted markets.

In addition, the survey questions did not offer a scale for potential responses (e.g. 1,2,3,4,5), which would have provided the respondent with some degree of latitude to answer the question in a case where he or she might not be sure of the answer. As a result, the respondent may have, if in doubt, ticked off a selection, though the activity may not be fully carried out by the respondent or the employer.

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Productivity in Ramadan: 2011 Survey Based Report

Productivity in Ramadan Report 2011
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Purpose of study
:  Develop a fact-based assessment of the state of productivity during Ramadan across the Muslim world and offer a framework for improving productivity  for individuals, businesses and government institutions. For the estimated 700+ million Muslim workforce globally,  the sacred month of Ramadan has tremendous impact on their work-life balance as well as their spiritual life.   A variety of productivity challenges are faced by the modern Muslim worker during Ramadan in striking the right balance between maximizing the spiritual focus as well as maintaining the work-life balance. As a result, businesses and government agencies face many challenges during Ramadan to adapt to the modern Muslim workers’ demands and ensure consistent productive output during the month.

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Productivity in Ramadan Study: Exec Summary

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

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Productivity in Ramadan 2011 Report

This groundbreaking study presents a fact-based assessment of the state of productivity during Ramadan across the world and offers recommendations for improving productivity of individuals, businesses and government institutions.  The study includes 1), a survey that benchmarks actual Ramadan practices and Muslims’ expectations, and 2) an assessment of governmental policy implications on work-hour differences in various Muslim majority countries and their resulting economic impact.

The survey was conducted online between June 28, 2011 and July 10, 2011, prior to Ramadan 2011, and marketed to Muslims in five key Muslim-majority countries (Malaysia, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE) as well as five countries with sizeable Muslim minorities (USA, UK, India, Canada, and Australia).  A total of 1524 responses were received, representing a 99% confidence level with a +/- 4% margin of error.

Select insights & recommendations for Individuals

  • Key areas of spiritual activities that most Muslims struggle with were highlighted (reading Qur’an regularly 66%, focusing during worship 53%, Taraweeh attendance 47%, others), suggesting a need for Muslims to better prepare for Ramadan.
  • 77% of fasting Muslims would like to keep their work productivity the same.  However, the reality is that they undertake added spiritual activities during Ramadan (attend Taraweeh prayers 52%, others) and physical energy levels are low.  This again supports the need to prepare for Ramadan as well as to reprioritize regular activities in order to accommodate one’s Ramadan needs.

Insights & recommendations for Employers

  • 77% of survey respondents said they try to maintain the same level of work productivity during Ramadan and feel that work should continue uninterrupted.   However, increased spiritual activity is to be expected and should be accommodated, especially for work that requires a severe physical demand.
  • For OIC[1] (Muslim majority countries) based employers, the survey highlights areas in which they can improve efforts to support employees during Ramadan and productivity (e.g. arranging  Iftar gatherings, Eid gatherings, and Eid gift-giving and arranging for special Ramadan working hours, prayer times and facilities.)
  • Although commendable, non-OIC[2] based employees were less happy with their employers’ flexibility during Ramadan compared to OIC based employees (48% vs. 74%).  Area in which Non-OIC based employers can improve their efforts included setting special Ramadan working hours.

Insights & recommendations for OIC member governments

  • Although a detailed analysis of economic impact should be undertaken by each government, the economic impact assessment in this study shows that the economies suffer roughly 4% in monthly GDP per hour of work reduction per day.
  • Some key questions for governments to evaluate:
    • Is a two hour reduction necessary?
    • Is a mix of one hour reduction and one hour adjustment optimal, as generally practiced in Indonesia and Malaysia?
    • Do hour reductions generate the desired increase in spiritual connectivity, or do they have an adverse effect (e.g. laziness, apathy, etc.)?
    • Does a segmented approach need to be considered, i.e., work flexibility, for certain type of physical labor?

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[1] OIC = Organization of Islamic Conference 57 mostly Muslim majority countries

[2] Countries with minority Muslim populations

Productivity in Ramadan Study: Recommendations (for Governments)

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Productivity in Ramadan 2011 Report

Insights & recommendations for governments:

  • Governments in many OIC countries set the tone for productivity across all institutions within their countries.
  • Our work-hour analysis shows a few different approaches of some OIC countries, which opens the question as to which models are most effective in delivering the right balance of work productivity and employee satisfaction.
  • Although a much detailed analysis of economic impact would have to be undertaken to fully understand the complexities of Ramadan work reduction and adjustment, the economic impact assessment in this study shows that the economies suffer roughly 4% in monthly GDP per hour per day of work reduction.
  • Undoubtedly, no dollar value can be placed on spiritual gains and divine blessings of increased worship during Ramadan, but the fact that there are different approaches to work-hour reduction and adjustment does suggest that governments should evaluate whether their Ramadan policies maintain the right balance of work responsibility and spiritual flexibility during Ramadan.
  • Some key question for governments to evaluate:
    • Is a two hour reduction necessary?
    • Is a mix of one hour reduction and one hour adjustment optimal (as practiced generally in Indonesia and Malaysia)?
    • Do hour reductions generate the desired increase in spiritual connectivity, or do they have an adverse effect (e.g. laziness, apathy, etc.)?
    • Should a segmented or other flexible approach be considered, for example, for certain types of hard labor?

Next >> Ramadan Study: Expert Commentary

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  1. Conducted a survey to determine actual Ramadan practices and expectations of Muslim workers, and
  2. Looked at Ramadan work-hour differences in various Muslim majority countries and its resulting economic impact, and to suggest areas of Ramadan productivity improvements.

Productivity in Ramadan Study: Recommendations (for Employers)

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Productivity in Ramadan 2011 Report

Insights & recommendations for employers:

  • The study provides beneficial insight on how employers can support Muslim employees in honoring their religious requirements.  This attention is expected to result in employee goodwill as well as productivity improvements.
  • It is clear from survey responses that most Muslims fast, and those who fast do see an increased level of spiritual activity for which the respondents value employer flexibility.
  • An important insight from this survey is that most survey respondents (77%) say they try to maintain same level of work productivity during Ramadan and feel that work should continue uninterrupted.  Also, although there are no specific religious injunctions on reducing work hours, increased spiritual activity is to be expected and accommodated.  Reduced or flexible scheduling is especially important for work that requires severe physical labor.
  • For Muslim majority OIC  based employers specifically:
  • Most OIC based employees (74%) said they were happy with their employers’ flexibility during Ramadan.   At the same time, over 25% have higher expectations of their employers.
  • The survey highlights areas in which OIC based employers can improve their efforts to support Ramadan and productivity.  These include:
  • Organizing Iftar and Eid gatherings and gift-giving, and
  • Arranging for special Ramadan working hours, prayer times and facilities. (Special hours may not necessarily mean a reduction of hours but an adjustment with consideration to key prayer times and Iftar.)
  • Be aware of the activities Muslims are striving for to achieve spiritual excellence (e.g. reading the Qur’an regularly, praying at a mosque, giving extra in charity etc.).  Perhaps special programs can be created to facilitate these efforts.
  • While a majority (61%) of respondents from OIC countries said their company’s productivity does not suffer during Ramadan, a sizeable 26% said their company’s productivity unnecessarily suffers.  This should be a cause for companies to evaluate their practices and policies.
  • For Muslim minority non-OIC based employers:
  • Contrasted with OIC based employees, non-OIC based employees were less happy with their employers’ flexibility during Ramadan (48% vs. 74%).   Although commendable that a good percentage of Non-Muslim majority based companies do accommodate for Muslim needs, the gap does present HR departments within these companies’ opportunities to engage with their Muslim employees to impact not just goodwill but productivity.
  • As mentioned earlier, most Muslims during Ramadan expect to be as productive as they would be at any other time.  However, the survey results show that they engage in added spiritual activity which reduces physical energy.  Any accommodation of this reality is expected to increase goodwill and productivity.
  • The survey highlights areas in which non-OIC based employers can improve their efforts to support Ramadan and productivity.  These include:
    • A big percentage of non-OIC based respondents (49%) expressed desire for employees to set special Ramadan working hours. (Special hours may not necessarily mean reduction of hours but an adjustment—for example, providing an early start and an early end to the workday.) 25% of the respondents stated that their employers provide special working hours.
    • 38% also expressed an interest in special prayer time or facility.
    • Additional, but less prioritized requests include activities such as organizing Iftar and Eid gatherings.

Next >> Ramadan Study: Recommendations (for Governments)

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  1. Conducted a survey to determine actual Ramadan practices and expectations of Muslim workers, and
  2. Looked at Ramadan work-hour differences in various Muslim majority countries and its resulting economic impact, and to suggest areas of Ramadan productivity improvements.