HealthOpinionRaceRadical Self Care

Year-end Fatigue and Diversity In Workplaces.

October 3, 2023

With the year coming to a close, many of us are feeling exhausted and using every ounce of strength we have to push through. Typically, when October arrives, year-end fatigue begins to manifest itself, leaving us overwhelmed. Year-end fatigue is a phenomenon that affects many individuals in the workplace as the calendar year draws to a close. It is often characterized by a sense of exhaustion, decreased motivation, and reduced productivity among employees. This exhaustion can stem from a variety of factors, including increased workloads, pressure to meet year-end goals and deadlines, holiday-related stress, and personal life demands. Even though year-end fatigue is a common issue in the workplace, there are instances where it affects people of color more severely than their white colleagues. Let me explain.

In addition to workload and deadlines, people of color have to deal with workplace equality and the constant effort to prove that they belong at the same table as their white colleagues. It’s almost an endless battle that we can all identify with in a workplace. Award-winning diversity and inclusion leader Mary-Frances Winters, in her book, “Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit,” says, “It’s the exhaustion born of ‘the day-to-day small acts of aggression, or small acts of disrespect’ a Black person endures; the endless need to prove your worth; and the constant exposure to news about injustice and violence being inflicted on people who look like you.” With the constant need to prove ourselves in the workplace, we tend to ignore our mental health, resulting in not taking leave, answering emails on days when we’re supposed to be off, or staying at work late. I remember when I was starting out as a publicist; I would arrive at the office two hours before our official work hours, eat lunch at my desk, and only leave when the office complex was closing. Initially, this was driven by the need to be recognized as a “dedicated” part of the team, but in truth, it was a trauma response to not wanting to lose job security.

Another barrier to taking time off from work is the lack of diversity in leadership roles in a workplace. If a company has predominantly white management, asking for time off can be a daunting experience because you may find yourself required to provide “valid” reasons for taking a day off. A lack of diversity at leadership levels can make people of color feel isolated and less likely to seek support. According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, the results revealed that employees in frontline roles report the worst experience. Just one-third of workers in the bottom 10 percent of income had jobs with paid sick leave. Additionally, 45 percent of hourly employees don’t believe their company encourages them to take advantage of work-life policies (such as leave of absence and parental leave) without jeopardizing their employment or career advancement. These factors have a dramatic influence on their job experience and their views of their company.

I’ve listed some of the steps companies can implement to ensure mental wellbeing of employees, especially during this time when year-end fatigue is kicking in.

Addressing Systemic Constraints:

  • Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Companies should actively work on creating diverse and inclusive workplaces where everyone feels valued and supported.
  • Mentorship Programs: Mentorship programs can help people of color navigate workplace challenges and provide guidance on career development.
  • Transparent Policies: Ensure that leave policies are transparent and applied consistently to all employees, regardless of their background.

Employee Wellbeing Initiatives:

  • Stress Management Workshops: Offer workshops on stress management, time management, and resilience.
  • Regular Check-Ins: Managers should have regular check-ins with employees to discuss their workload and offer support.
  • Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance and lead by example.

It’s important to emphasize that individual experiences vary widely, and not all black individuals share the same experiences or attitudes toward work. Addressing work fatigue and related issues requires a comprehensive approach that considers the intersection of race, socioeconomic factors, healthcare access, and workplace conditions. To address these disparities, it’s essential to promote workplace equity, provide access to mental health services, and work to eliminate systemic inequalities that contribute to differences in work-related fatigue among racial groups. It’s also important to avoid making sweeping generalizations and stereotypes about any racial or ethnic group, as these can perpetuate bias and discrimination.