Business owners who take global holidays into consideration conduct profitable business overseas. As a business owner, holidays are not just opportunities to reorient your sales approach or your advertising strategy. They will also have very real and profound affects on your business’ performance, especially when we live in an ever more globalized economy. When you could have software engineers in Estonia, sales operatives in India, and content writers in the Central African Republic, it is very important to understand the different holiday traditions of the world.
Furthermore, you need to know when they happen, what they involve, and how your employees are affected by them. Whether your IT support teams are calculating their Ramadan Zakat donations, or whether your tax accountant will be spending part of their next day off celebrating in the streets with handfuls of powder paint, you can know in advance and plan around any difficult issues accordingly. You can also boost productivity by giving appropriate corporate gifts during holidays. Continue reading to learn about the major global holidays that impact international business.
In 2019, Diwali falls on the 20th of October, but the calendar it is based on is lunar. Thus, the global holiday’s actual date changes each year. However, it is almost always in the autumn, as it is historically linked with the northern hemisphere’s harvest time. The whole affair lasts five days.
Diwali is a very important festival for all the Dharmic religions, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism. It is mostly celebrated in India but also by devout Dharmic individuals around the world in dozens of countries. Exactly what it celebrates varies depending on which religion is specifically being discussed. Generally, it represents a symbolic victory of light over darkness.
If you employ people living in India, this might well be a time where they will be requesting time off. This time off is not necessarily crucial as most of the activities do involve after hours events. However, business owners across the globe do provide employees with time off during the holidays as a nice gesture. Diwali is also usually a time of immense spending among Indians. If you have any kind of seasonal bonus scheme for your staff in India, this would be a good time to target it. Expect staff to be much less available outside office hours than usual.
Ramadan 2019 begins of the 5th of May and lasts through to the 4th of June. The Islamic calendar that it is based on is also a lunar calendar, meaning the holiday can shift throughout the year. Unlike Diwali, it is not more specifically linked to a particular time or event.
Ramadan is the Islamic holy month, where Muslims abstain from food and drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Because this lasts an entire month, there are only sparse days off throughout. However with your entire Muslim workforce going through a fast, it is entirely possible that you might experience a slight drop in some forms of productivity. Do not treat this differently to any other issue, but be aware of the cause. No one wants to be patronized because of their religion and given extra allowances that others do not get. However, be aware of the cause and be understanding if they mention it. Of course Muslims are as professional and diligent as anyone else, and given that this is a very predictable event, they know well how to deal with its challenges.
At the end of each day, there are important feasts, the iftar, which are very special family and community gatherings. Consequently expect Muslims to be less available for work inquiries outside of work hours than they might otherwise be usually. At the end of the season there is also the festival of Eid. Throughout this festival, most Muslims expect time off. While business owners can use Ramadan traditions as holiday marketing strategies, you need to take them into account for other reasons. They impact employee schedules and the holiday also presents a great opportunity to show appreciation for your workers.
Easter’s date varies between countries, but in the West it is usually celebrated between March 22nd and April 25th. Although you might be very familiar with Easter, what it is, and why it matters, you might be less well associated with how impactful it can be around the wider world. In much of Europe, the wider anglosphere, and other countries where Christianity is dominant in the culture, Easter is a public holiday. It creates a four day weekend stretching from Good Friday (the date of Jesus’ death) to Easter Monday (the day after his appearance from the tomb).
Other countries with deep Christian traditions, or strong Christian minorities, may regard the festival as more holy than we in the West tend to. They organize feasts, parties, and other celebrations. In Israel, in particular, the Christian quarter of Jerusalem is a hive of activity around Easter. Although it may not be expected that Christians will ask for this time off, you should still let them know that you are aware. Give them the option to take time off. In doing so, you show cultural sensitivity. As with other holidays, keep an open mind during Easter and do not force employees to work through the religious celebrations.
In 2019, Navaratri runs from September 29th to the October 8th. This is another Dharmeric festival. There is little that is immediately consistent about Navaratri across the different faiths that practice it, or even within the same faith in the case of Hinduism. In some Eastern and North Eastern parts of India, Navaratri is lined to the goddess Durga when she battled and emerged victorious over the buffalo demon. She did so to help restore Dharma to the Cosmos. In Northern and Western parts of India, it is linked to the victory of the God Rama over the daemon king Ravana. In all cases, two elements stay consistent. The theme of victory of good over evil and the length both remain. The festival of Navaratri always lasts nine days.
Like Diwali, this is not a time necessarily of requested absence. The majority of the events happen out of office hours. However, it is a time of special celebration and focus. Something to be aware of in dealings with Indian employees during this time. If you employ especially devout members of the community, expect out of hours availability to drop off.
Holidays around the world are many and various. Being aware can mean the difference between cultural sensitivity and happy employees, or international misunderstandings and wearisome workers. Moreover, you can better prepare for the various holidays and keep employees happy simultaneously. To improve your culture further, establish an employee referral program. With this type of program and days off around the global holidays, you can maintain a culturally friendly work environment.