Dear Colleagues!  This is Pharma Veterans Blog Post #480. Pharma Veterans welcomes sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi onWordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

In response to last blog post, #479, published on Monday 3rd, I have received three questions/comments. These are important and should be replied/commented upon.

Question: There appears to be a conflict between maintaining work standard and Ramadan facilitation. Owing to its religious nature, it also carries an emotional component, making it more sensitive and delicate. How should it be handled?

Both assertions are right. It is an apparent conflict because reducing work hours will likely reduce output. The conflicting nature makes it difficult for any organization.

There may not be easy, straightforward solutions, but I wish to offer following suggestions.

  • The emotional part should be handled first. Ramadan should be acknowledged and welcomed with open heart. Every Muslim employee should be felicitated by the management on this auspicious occasion. If feasible, a suitable Ramadan gift comprising of dates and some beverage may be distributed. From here, two options may be considered.
    • In closer organizations, opinion may be invited on how the work should be designed to facilitate without compromising work.
    • In larger, more diverse organizations, the matter may be discussed among the management and then a communication should be floated.
  • The spirit is important. Usually, the senior managers in their air of seniority fail to recognize and appreciate the exertion of front line, particularly, field employees. A compassionate approach can help, but it has to be genuinely compassionate, and not exploitation guised as compassion.
  • The first time will take more effort, but it will set the scene for next years. Things shall fall into routine in the subsequent years quickly.
  • Participative management is talked about in all progressive organizations. This situation is a classic case for participative management, and it should be handled accordingly.
  • Some work loss of minor importance may be considered in the interest of more important jobs. Resetting of priorities may be considered, if required.
  • Fasting is mandatory for all Muslims but is not observed as such. Senior Managers particularly take the position that they have very important work to do, and they cannot handle it along with fasting. Without going into debate on this point, the overall respect of Ramadan needs to be observed by all, and for all.

The summary is that Ramadan should be observed as a source of blessings, which it is, rather than a source of burden and conflict. The more we think in this direction, the more ideas we shall be able to generate with regard to our specific situation.

Question: COVID is already hurting work. If we add Ramadan to it also, it may become hard to manage.

Yes, COVID is hurting in many ways and there is nothing much that we can do about it. In fact, we are apprehending stricter measures from government which will make things more difficult.

Management is about finding solutions. A lot of businesses have survived the onslaught of COVID for the second year in running. We also expect to hold the fort in the future also.

My suggestions are following.

  • We may try to think in terms of is/and, rather than and/or. It means that we should place things side by side (juxtaposed) rather than putting one against the other. Lockdown becomes acceptable because there is no escape, but Ramadan is not as acceptable because it can be escaped. If we change our view slightly, we shall be able to see things in a better light.
  • These are unusual times, and it is required that we think in unconventional ways to find non-traditional solutions. This is true for COVID also. We are still grappling with the questions of who should come and who should not come to office. We are not making arrangements for a decent work from home option. Please continue thinking in new ways.

Question: Employees are already looking for ways to do less work. Ramadan becomes a tool in their hands to shirk work.

This is the most traditional way of thinking and it prevails on both sides. The management considers employees to be good-for-nothing, lazy people who need to be pushed to do work; the employees consider the management to be ruthless tyrants who do nothing but exploit. In many organizations, it is actually so. In others, the situation may be better, but the sentiment still exists.

My suggestions are following.

  • Employee-Employer relationship is a matter of discussion and effort the world over. If an organization wishes to progress and become a truly rewarding place to work and do business, it has to get away from the historical distrust and create better understanding between both parties. This is a whole subject in itself and can be taken up separately. Having said that, consistent work is required to improve this situation.
  • Small gestures matter more than big things. Small gestures can be done more often and have recurring impact while big things can only be done once in a while. Ramadan facilitation is a small gesture and shall certainly add to goodwill.

I may close by saying that our reservations arise out of our standard, conventional way of looking at and handling things. The most important thing to do is to liberate ourselves and venture into more progressive, unconventional ways.


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