Tolerance Image Credit: Agency

Dubai: During Ramadan, it’s common to see non-Muslim colleagues whisper or gesture to each other that it’s time for lunch, mindful of their Muslim colleagues. Or when tempers flare up, patience takes front seat faster than usual.

This is true in most cases in Dubai, although there could be exceptions as well on days when our temper gets the best of us.

The month-long fast is the most challenging time of the year for those who are working and fasting at the time. But it is also the best time to show tolerance in the workplace.

Tolerance could mean different things to different people and could probably be a big and scary word to some but it is essential to have in the workplace, said Asma Bajawa, Managing Director of People First, an HR consultancy firm.

Tolerance in the workplace is all about the willingness to really listen, to acknowledge and respect other people’s opinions, beliefs and behaviour even if they go against what you believe yourself.

- Asma Bajawa, Managing director of People First, an HR consultancy firm

“Tolerance in the workplace is all about the willingness to really listen, to acknowledge and respect other people’s opinions, views, beliefs, practices, and behaviours even if they go against what you believe yourself or what your likes and dislikes are,” Bajawa told Gulf News.

“Breaking down what tolerance means, particularly in the UAE which is so multi-cultural, and taking Ramadan as a good example, it means we respect that we don’t eat or drink in front of each other. This is a good, simple example actually of Ramadan how everybody really respects one another. To a Muslim, for example, the working hours are reduced.”

Making sure tolerance is part of a workplace culture is critical for the growth of employees as well as the entity they belong to. Companies can start by celebrating the diversity of their staff through their annual festivals and even being more considerate to each other.

“If it’s not part of the fabric or the culture of the organisation, how will people know that they have to be tolerant with each other?” Bajawa said.

Bajawa believes everyone in an organisation has a role in ensuring that tolerance becomes an integral of the workplace culture. Top executives and HR departments have a greater responsibility, however. They can do this by making tolerance among the expected behaviours from employees either through the employee manual or of the competencies of employees.

“An HR’s role is to really set the culture, set the tone and define what the employee’s proposition is in your organisation. HR should be guiding and advising the leadership team if they want to be this kind of organisation that wants to that attracts and retain talent then these are the things we should offer not just from a salary and compensation perspective.”

New entries to the workforce, the centennials and millennials, now believe that money isn’t everything. Their other concerns in choosing companies include, among others, its care for society, care about the environment, and work-life balance. HR plays a huge role in making sure these are present in an organisation to make it attractive to new recruits. The same is true for retaining talent.

“If people are not happy in the workplace, and there are lots of studies on this, you will see productivity go down, performance will go down, absenteeism will increase, morale will go down,” Bajawa said.

“There are a lot of studies that said that diversity in the workplace can directly impact your bottomline because you will have different working practices coming together, ideas, work patterns, behaviours and if you actually allow to listen, it can actually bring a lot of value into the organisation.”