Flexible work, responsibility, and autonomy – what more could you wish for in a job? These are all advantages that founders can offer to their employees and which are made possible by a high level of digitalization. However, all types of work carry their own intrinsic risks for your mental health.
Increasing numbers of founders have started paying attention to mental health, by relying on the method of mindful working. This article tells you about the risks of increasing job pressure and how, as a founder, you can proactively prevent these risks.
Mental Health in Startups
Let’s have a look at the numbers first. In startups, there is generally a lack of resources, especially in early stages. Time, personnel, and finances are in short order which is why areas like personnel development or health care suffer.
In a survey by the Bundesverband Deutsche Startups (Federal Association of German Startups), 29% of all interviewees indicate that they do have the personnel to deal with health issues. 80% of all interviewed startups with a staff of less than 10 people state that they don’t have any personnel resources for the health department. The percentage of startups with more than 10 employees who have no health resources then is only 48%. We can conclude that with an increasing number of team members, the resources for the departments health and mental health also increase – with a clear upward tendency. The interviewees also stated that topics like work-life-balance and burnout will play a larger role in the future.
What’s behind the buzzwords though?
A balance between work and private life is extremely important for mental health. A good work-life-balance helps to alleviate pressure in both areas by engaging in activities you enjoy – sports, friends and other social contacts, or other hobbies.
A bad work-life-balance will sooner or later negatively affect your health. A study by the Harvard Medical School states that a weekly workload of more than 55 hours increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes – and this is not even calculating in acute stress.
That’s why founders should take care to have a good-life-balance, not only for themselves but also for their team members: According to an asac guideline on the topic, a good work-life-balance demonstrably makes employees happier and consequently adds to their motivation, efficiency, and productivity. That’s a win-win-situation for all parties involved.
The World Health Organization classifies stress as one of the major health risks of the 21st century. Burnout is a generally well-known result of too much stress. Currently, about 20% of the world population is visibly suffering from various degrees and types of burnout. The term itself is an umbrella term that covers many job-related psychological problems caused by overexertion. The main symptoms are fatigue, distancing oneself from work or even cynically rejection of work, as well as contempt for one’s own performance.
Founders have to deal with with a lot of pressure, especially in the early startup phase but also in later phases. They are faced with massive challenges that they have to overcome on their own terms. Consequently, it is extremely important for founders to actively prevent a burnout early on.
The Impact Of the Corona-Pandemic
The pandemic has brought about enormous challenges for everyone. There was an urgent need to act quickly, amongst others for the digitalization of work processes. This however, was not a disadvantage for startups, since founders were already using remote and flexible working concepts, even before the pandemic.
Nevertheless, 74.2% of interviewed startups stated that the pandemic had a negative impact on their business model. Naturally, this also impacts mental health for every-day work: the fear – which already is prevalent in the company due to a lack of resources during the early startup phase – for the company’s and one’s own livelihood multiplies. 60.9% of interviews indicated that the topics well-being and health at work have become more important during the pandemic. For that reason, it’s all the more important to expand mental health measures in every-day worklife and pay more attention to your own health and that of your team members.
What You Can Do Against Stress At Work
There are many ways how you can prevent stress in your daily work routine. We have summarized some of these for you:
- Good work-life-balance
As we already have learned, bad work-life-balance can not only have a negative impact on your job performance but also your overall health.
Important: Be kind to yourself and find a personal activity that compensates for the pressure at work and has nothing to do with your worklife; going for a walk, or sports, or meditation to actively switch from “work” mode to “life” mode. A good work-life-balance is the best thing you can do for your mental balance and your mental health. Digitalization has opened many doors for that, from remote work to the new work model. These generally offer a good foundation for a balanced life. This is what effectively prevents psychological ailments like burnouts.
- Awareness and support
In this context, awareness and support through the employer are important; a general tendency shows that this is already happening. In startups, this task falls to the founder, or the team member, who is responsible for the mental health department. Of all interviewed companies, 65% stated that they have special personnel resources for all topics surrounding health. Accordingly, the larger the company the more resources and measures for employee health are available.
Startups compensate by using the New Work model. Nevertheless, founders should also actively incorporate the topic of mental health into every-day work. Open communication and supporting social activities and team-building activities can do wonders in that respect. You could think about weekly sports activities for your team, for example. Or workshops on body ergonomics.
- Good management of expectations
Overexertion and feeling overburdened lead to stress in the long run – which we already have identified as the major health risk of our time. That’s why it is extremely important to know your personal boundaries; and also to keep them intact and clearly communicate where they are. You should also motivate your team members to think about their boundaries. Only then, the others’ expectations and your own expectations can effectively align with reality.
- A clearly defined company culture
A clearly defined company culture, exemplified by the aspects of purpose and identification, are part of mental health. These values must be embodied transparently and with a good team spirit to be fully effective. The positive impact of such a culture will become visible in the increased motivation and better mental health of your employees. A shared company culture that is lived together strengthens team cohesion.
The concept of “servant leaders” for example, can help every team member to feel relevant, purposeful, and placed in the perfect role within the company. This concept states that leaders relinquish their authority and give employees the space to make their own decisions and realize their own projects and ideas. Maybe that’s a concept you can use in your own startup?
Of course, there are numerous other tips and ideas you can integrate into your worklife. What’s important: Get started and take mental health seriously. That said – stay healthy!
Do you need more valuable advice on the topic?
Then you should really watch the interview with Lara from evermood. Evermood is the perfect solution for everyone who needs support and good ideas for better mental health.