Ramadan is often viewed as the laziest month of the year, where businesses believe that productivity in the workplace decreases compared to the rest of the year, but HR experts from Oxford Strategic Consulting (OSC) say otherwise.
Experts say that business owners should not worry about the negative effects that could be imposed on their companies but rather view it positively by improving efficiency and productivity as well as increasing engagement.
“Working more hours does not necessarily translate to increased productivity,” said HR experts from OSC.
“The Japanese, for example, consistently reduced working hours since the 1970s but their productivity continued to rise over this period,” they added.
A study which was carried out by researchers from different academic institutions in the United Kingdom, Finland, France, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, found that working long hours (above 55 hours/week) increases the risk of a stroke.
Long hours also influence the risk of heart disease and stroke which is higher for those of a lower socioeconomic group, according to the study, where it also decreases employee productivity.
“Productivity tends to occur between the second and sixth hours of work. Office workers we found to be especially susceptible to deterioration in performance after six usual hours of work per day, compared with eight hours for more manual jobs,” said experts.
Working shorter weeks also increases staff happiness and engagement. It depends from one person to another but it is well known that those who relax and enjoy their time with their family are happier which could translate to more efficient employees.
“The shorter work weeks during Ramadan may reward employers with more productive staff all year round,” said the experts.
“Moreover, employee engagement and team commitment can be enhanced by the less urgent and informal environment afforded by Ramadan and its associated events,” they added.
Locals and expats agree to a certain degree that working fewer hours, in general, will make them happy and give them much needed time to go about their personal lives as well as make them more efficient workers.
“I agree that shorter working days increases productivity. I would be more focused and will be able to prioritize my work. There will be no scope for procrastination,” said Vinod, a private sector employee.
Aamina Al Riyami, a private sector employee said that some jobs are flexible and you don’t feel the difference, but shorter hours would help in balancing personal and work life.
“Knowing that you have a shorter time will make you work more and help you balance your work and personal life. Having a proper balanced personal life leads to increasing productivity,” said Al Riyami.
OSC experts said that Ramadan does not have to be an unproductive period, but leaders should derive the value of the month and focus on improving efficiency within the work place by using informal activities and increase creativity within the business.