JEDDAH – Economists have estimated that average employee productivity during the holy month of Ramadan and subsequent Eid Al-Fitr holidays decreases by 25 percent.
According to annual reports released by the Control and Investigation Board (CIB), high percentages of work absenteeism and tardiness are the major factors behind reduced productivity.
The reports suggest that average productivity decreases during Ramadan with a steep fall reported during the last 10 days of the month and the Eid holidays. Productivity levels do not return to normal levels for several days after Eid.
In sharp criticism of the phenomenon, economists said that society is “addicted” to vacations and employees use any means possible to get out of working during the month.
Economist Khaled Al-Azmi said that reducing work hours of government employees to five during Ramadan means that the average productivity of a Saudi government employee will not exceed two hours every day.
“The rest is just lost in coming late to work, conversations with colleagues and spending more than an hour on prayers when they can be performed in 10 minutes.”
Al-Azmi said Ramadan is a month of productivity and added that there is no concrete medical study to suggest that employees should work for less than eight hours.
“Muslims achieved their greatest, historic victory in the Battle of Badr during the holy month.”
Economist Abdulrahman Al-Ali painted an even bleaker picture of employee output and said at least 50 percent of employees evade exerting any sort of effort in Ramadan.
Al-Ali referred to a recent report released by the Ministry of Justice which said that 20,000 employees had been penalized over the past three years for repeated work-related violations during the holy month. Tardiness was the most common violation. The report also said that 130 employees who were considered “habitual offenders” were dismissed during the same period.
Al-Ali said there is need to tighten supervision of employees and annual increments and allowances should be linked with job performance. “Administrative corruption is no less serious than financial corruption, as it threatens citizens’ interests, projects and investments.”