Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Business of Fasting

With an estimated 1.5 billion Muslims in the the world, it's likely that awareness of Ramadan is heightening in the workplace. Ramadan, which began in early of next week, is a special time of the year for adherent Muslims. It's a time of devotion, reflection and sacrifice through daily fasting and nightly prayer.

As a a Muslim is living and working abroad, I find myself difficult to keep up with my fellow non-Muslim coworker. Ramadan proves to be a tougher struggle for those living in non-Muslim countries, as Muslim employees are usually expected to be just as productive as they are during any other month.

Although energy levels might be low, the point of fasting is not to slack off from our other duties and responsibilities. We believe that we are rewarded for continuing to work and produce during our fasts. Fasting is not a reason to push meetings, clear schedules, or take a lighter load on projects.

According the results of a survey, 77% of Muslim professionals 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. At the same time, they do expect flexibility to perform optimally both in Muslim majority countries and in countries where they are minorities.

If your Muslim co-workers seem to have low energy, are quieter than usual or do not want to partake in office festivities, this is likely a reflection of lack of food and water. So don't take it personally.

Most of us understand that life goes on, and so do lunch meetings, and if we are participating in them while fasting, don’t worry about eating in front of us. This is just part of the test. We appreciate your acknowledging our fast, but don’t feel the need to discuss it every time you show up in our line of sight holding food.

Being mindful and respectful of our colleague needs in the workplace can ensure a happy workforce, increased employee satisfaction, and better productivity. Sometimes, even just showing an interest in the background of an employee can motivate that individual to try harder.

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