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Warning! Is the dreaded 'End of Year Fatigue Syndrome' impacting on your team members?

Posted in Management @ Nov 22nd 2011 7:29pm - By Judy Gillespie
Christmas fatigue

A recent article from dvm360 ‘Employee Fatigue Sweeping the Nation’ briefly discussed that many veterinary practices have had to get used to doing more with less and the toll that this can take on your health.

Now while this is undoubtedly true, another thought has crossed my mind that I think is worth giving you a ‘heads up’ on. 

Have you noticed any signs of fatigue, grumpyness, stress or a strange wild-eyed look in the eyes of any of your staff? If the staff in question also have children then they may already be suffering from the dreaded  ‘end of year fatigue syndrome’ - a strange annually recurring condition that often appears from late November through to December.

Why?  Well depending on where you are in Australia, the school year is almost finished or may be a few weeks away from finishing but often the final two weeks of term can turn into a challenging, energy sapping marathon of:

  • end of year class parties that require party food to be prepared and taken to school;
  • end of year concerts at school with additional rehearsal time, not to mention costumes;
  • shopping for packs of Christmas cards and the accompanying 'candy canes';
  • awards nights;
  • final school music concerts;
  • shopping for gifts for class ‘Secret Santas’ (& sometimes multiple treats up until the actual gift giving);
  • shopping for another gift to give to younger school ‘buddies’;
  • end of year ballet concerts that require weeks of additional weekend rehearsals, on stage rehearsals and extra hours devoted to hair and make-up;
  • end of year break ups for cubs, scouts, etc;
  • shopping for gifts to thank class teachers & music teachers.

This list is just the start and doesn’t include family Christmas shopping, work parties, etc.

How do I know?  This is just my list for the end of year for my two children.  If they were older I would also have to factor in the stress of them attending parties & don’t even get me started on Schoolies!  

As a manager you need to recognise that there is little you can do to stem the tide of the ‘end of year fatigue syndrome’ but there are some things you can do to make it more bearable for all involved:

Be flexible

Children always want their parents to attend their concerts, and getting them to extra rehearsals can also mean coming and going at some strange times so it would be a huge help if there was some flexibility in work times around this time of the year.

Be understanding

It’s hard enough juggling work and family life at the best of times but at the end of the year this stress can be tenfold.  Children, not to mention parents, can start getting tired, niggly and more demanding.  Small dramas at work suddenly become magnified and low energy levels also mean stress is harder to deal with. 

It would help all concerned if when times start to get tense – everyone stopped to take a deep breath.  It would help even more if someone then went to buy a box of donuts.

Remember.. it won’t last forever

Although intense,  these multiple events usually happen within a very short period of time so after about two weeks it should all be over – if we all last that long.

So, as long as everyone remembers to keep breathing and as a manager you take on the role of administering donuts as required your team should survive the ‘end of year fatigue syndrome’ for another year.

Then of course comes school holidays ......and that’s another story all together!

Stay tuned for a follow up blog on a mysterious fatigue that may affect your staff members with no children - the equally dreaded 'End of Year Party Fatigue Syndrome'!

So what are your challenges at this time of the year?  What have I forgotten?  Tell us in the comments section below.


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