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.

Next >>  Ramadan Study: Executive Summary

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Relief Agency Marketing Campaigns

 

The current crisis in Somalia and urgent appeals by aid agencies leads me to examine the nature of marketing campaigns launched by those agencies and how they resemble or differ from campaigns for products and services. Some non-profits believe that because they’re not in the business of selling products and services that they’re not required to conduct full-fledged marketing campaigns, but the reality is, to achieve their goals and raise the funds required to help others, they need to have a well thought-out marketing strategy and run full marketing campaigns. Islamic Relief is an example of a non-profit who does it right.

I took Islamic Relief as a model because they are one of the most popular as well as most active Muslim aid agencies worldwide.  Their campaign includes Live TV appeals; fundraising events worldwide; online fundraisers in the form of webinars; social media, including Facebook, Twitter, blogging, videos; print ads; direct mail and email campaigns; PR; paid search ads; flyers; calendars and other print pieces; as well as outdoor advertising.

As with most aid agencies, there is an emotional appeal, usually featuring a specific humanitarian case, rather than numbers and statics, as in this video entitled “The Reality of Famine”;  a strong call to action that is easy to implement; and a description of the value of an individual’s contribution – “$75 can feed a family for a month”.

Now that the East Africa crisis coincides with Ramadan, Islamic Relief is tying its campaign with Ramadan values of giving generously to the needy, as Muslims are more likely to give to charitable causes knowing they will receive increased rewards, and especially that in fasting, we get a taste of others pain, and also points out that contributions are zakat eligible.  All this is done through an integrated campaign using a variety of media channels.

With such noble goals, of providing much needed assistance to people in dire conditions, relief agencies need to carefully plan and implement their marketing campaigns to achieve maximum impact. What are some examples of other Relief Agencies that are do it right, and others that do not?

 

Riots, consumerism, hyper-communication and a moral compass

In my last post, when I wrote that some people were unhappy in London and were looking forward to further consumerism, little did I know how far they would go! England has been hit by a terrible spate of riots and my fear is that this is an evolutionary form of behavior, which is the new sports hooliganism. Will fluid flashmob groups form and be egged on by partisan and territorial rivalry?

London-Riots

 

The more information that emerges, the more it appears that establishing causalities remains problematic. My position on the riots is that whilst the outcomes are apparent, the root causes are non-reducible. In short, this is all very complicated. Instead, it’s perhaps easier to understand the causes as coming from a large series of factors, under ‘drop-down menus’ – which when put together then lead to the same endgame. However, these choices are dynamic, time specific and perishable. Unfortunately, I think it’s also safe to say that as it has happened now, it can happen again.

These events also reminded me of the novel, manga and one of my favourite movies, Battle Royale. The prologue to the Japanese movie, released in 2000, reads as follows:

“At the dawn of the millennium, the nation collapsed. At fifteen percent unemployment, ten million were out of work. 800,000 students boycotted school. The adults lost confidence and, fearing the youth, eventually passed the Millennium Educational Reform Act, AKA the BR Act…”

battle-royale

The most obvious conclusion from recent events, is that with this phenomenon and others like the Arab Spring, hyper-communication and social media has two effects. Firstly, the great levelling of the digital revolution gifts access to knowledge capital. This information is consumed by more and more ‘collective individuals’ and is available in a format where ranking is less about quality and more about conspicuousness. Qualifiers are often based upon notoriety and number of hits. Therefore: ‘whose view is right?’ and ‘is there something to be said for being able to consume information in a real, rather than a virtual context?’ are being processed in more self-regulated ways. Secondly, social media shows that its stakeholders react quickly and spread information amongst their networks. As I watched the news stories unfold on my television, I reached for my phone to check on Twitter, in order to see how close to my area the riots were and where they would spread next. Twitter gave me a faster response that rolling news teams.

As a side issue, I can’t help thinking that concerns over hoodies and face-covering may indirectly lead to courses of action which have a knock-on effect on Muslim women, who wear the hijab or niqab. I didn’t see any hijabis or niqabis looting in various pieces of news footage, but as with debates concerning terrorism, there always appears to be calls to tighten definitions of freedom – using a blend of soft and hard power. For rioting and terrorism, tenuous links to dress codes have already been made. Will England lose faith and go down the same route that France has, in passing laws to ban additional items of clothing in public places?

Will England lose faith and go down the same route that France has, in passing laws to ban additional items of clothing in public places?

Will marketers driving consumerism have to shoulder some accountability?

Will role of religion in society be seen as positive?

At some stage I am sure that some will point the finger at marketers driving consumerism and therefore having to shoulder some accountability. The usual suspects violent video games and rap music have already been brought into question. However, for a change religion is in the spotlight for a different reason. The media has run numerous pieces showing religious groups rallying to heal wounds. Many former gang members featured have also reported that, religion and the support of religious institutions have been instrumental in their rehabilitation.

Therefore, is this a good time to re-open the debate about the role of religion in society, in a positive way? Can religion provide the necessary moral compass, which helps individuals to:  become self disciplined, forgive, trust that justice will prevail, and believe in recompense beyond temporal human existence? A few days ago during the Birmingham riots, Tariq Jahan saw his son Haroon die in his arms, after he was mown down by a car – whilst Harroon attempted to protect businesses and the local mosque. Tariq asserted that he was a Muslim, he called for a calm amidst racial tensions, and that his faith teaches him to accept that everyone’s time to go is fixed by God. My condolences and utmost respect go out to the family.

 

Productivity in Ramadan Study: Exec Summary

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

Next: Religious Context  Goto Download PDF Copy
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?

Next >>  Ramadan Study: Religious Context

or, Download PDF Copy


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

[2] Countries with minority Muslim populations

Are We Over Commercializing Ramadan?

Ramadan-Textile-Ad1-239x300

Ramadan is here, and while many of the pious are gearing up for a month of  self-denial  and supplication, many Muslims are also frantically stocking up on supplies in preparation for Iftar gatherings and boundless hospitality. A Western, non-Muslim observer, would see a huge paradox that the month of fasting and abstinence is regarded by many Muslims as the month of feasting and overabundance.

Companies in Muslim countries are quick to capitalize on consumers increased spending as well as the promise of a captive television audience that expects to be entertained both by a profusion of new shows especially produced for Ramadan, as well as equally captivating commercials. (Ramadan commercials in Egypt actually remind me of Super Ball commercials, both in the competition among advertisers to produce the best, and the budgets spent on both producing and airing them.)

Initially it was food-related companies that would take advantage of consumer’s heightened interest in food and increased spending on food items to increase their marketing messaging during Ramadan. Now, it is not only food-related companies; hotels for example launch special Ramadan packages, and cell phone network providers emotionally appeal  to the value of keeping in touch and provide their most attractive offers. Ramadan is also the time for many companies to launch new products.

This leads me to wonder, as marketers, where do we draw the line between business practicality and opportunism?

How do we align our Muslim values and trying to preserve the true spirit of Ramadan with business common sense, especially in challenging economic times?

Do you have an example of a company that has succeeded in achieving this balance?

 

Islamic Finance Programs at Leading OIC B-Schools

Islamic Finance Programs

Given the growing demand for Islamic finance talent, a number of business schools based in the OIC* are offering Islamic finance related courses and full degree programs.  From the 50 leading B-Schools of the OIC, six are offering full Islamic finance related degree/diploma programs. Four of these programs are based in Malaysia.  Another 11 B-Schools offer Islamic finance course-work in their general program.

 

* OIC = 57 Organization of Islamic Conference member countries.

**Please note this is NOT a comprehensive list of Islamic finance programs globally, but a list of programs offered among the 50 leading B-Schools list. Distinguished exclusive Islamic finance institutions such as INCIEF (Malaysia), The Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies and others are not covered.  A separate ranked list of Islamic finance programs globally will be released in 2012.

Any correction requests and updates can be submitted hereDinarStandard is now surveying for a full ranking of leading B-Schools of the OIC to be released 2012. OIC based B-Schools interested should contact us.