How Startups Can Address Stress Before It Becomes an Issue
If your people really are your greatest asset, everything else can take a back seat
I’m not a mental-health professional, but I do know that I shouldn’t need to be one to create an environment that puts a priority on mental health.
As a society, we’re finally starting to gain a better understanding of how persistent stress can lead to serious mental-health issues. Even so, the impact of stress on entrepreneurs and startup employees has only recently come to the forefront over the last three-to-five years. In some ways, it’s not unlike how we learned about the impact of CTE on NFL players. Behaviors and traits that were commonplace all along suddenly had causes attributed to them.
The good news is that kind of knowledge is half the battle. The bad news is we’re still not doing a lot about it — not proactively anyway.
The tricky problem of stress in a startup
All jobs come with stress, some more than others, some much, much more than others. No one should need to equate or compare the inherent stress that comes with the job title of entrepreneur to that of surgeon, firefighter, or air traffic controller.
What makes entrepreneurism unique is not only its lack of resources — early stage startups usually don’t carry the best health plans or work/life policies — but the undeniable fact that entrepreneurism is a lonely pursuit. Even at companies with 10 or 20 employees, most of the work is done by individuals, with individual responsibilities, demands, and stressors.
This makes it tough to even recognize when stress is pushing someone to the edge, let alone respond to that stress and alleviate it. So as leaders in our various startups, we need to be proactive about stress in our workplace before issues arise.
What proactive response means in a limited-resource environment
Stress issues can surface in different behaviors and stem from different causes. Unless you’re clinically trained to diagnose mental-health issues, being proactive about identifying and responding to their precursors can be a quagmire of…